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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

New Meriam Library Makerspace sends student projects to another dimension

Ultimaker 3 Extended 3-D printer printing a fish model Photo credit: Alex Grant

A vinyl cutter, 3-D printers, a sewing machine and five high powered computers are now available to all Chico State students thanks to a new Makerspace that opened in Meriam Library Feb 6.

Ultimaker 3 Extended 3-D printer. Prints use PLA (Polylactic Acid) which is made from corn starch. Photo credit: Alex Grant
Roland CAMM-1 GS-24 vinyl cutter is used to create stickers. Photo credit: Alex Grant
Juki DU-1181 industrial top and bottom feed sewing machine with servo motor. Photo credit: Alex Grant

Patrick Newell, the dean of the library, said he had been wanting to put in a Makerspace in the library since he first got hired two years ago.

According to Newell, the location also serves the purpose of being a high traffic area that’s visible to lots of students, making it easy for students of all academic disciplines to see the space in use and be inspired.

“If we kept engineering in the engineering building, it would probably keep a lot of the engineers looking exactly like the engineers we’ve seen forever,” Newell said. “Libraries don’t threaten anyone. It’s easy, it’s approachable, and we wanted it to be approachable so people would integrate it into their classes.”

An example of how the 3-D printers can do two colored models. This octopus took about three hours to print. Photo credit: Alex Grant
All students are allowed three hours of print time a month. Student working in groups can combine their allowed hours to print for more time. Photo credit: Alex Grant

The money to purchase the equipment for the Makerspace all came from grants. The space is currently contained to a small corner of the second floor of the library, but could expand in the future.

“We’re waiting for that to be driven by the curriculum,” he said. “If a faculty member comes up with something, then we can get money to buy something and we’ll add it.”

Makerspace is home to four Dell Precision Tower 5810 computers equipped with programs such as Adobe Creative Cloud and Avid Pro Tools Photo credit: Alex Grant

According to Brad Layne, a Makerspace student adviser, the college of business is already taking advantage of the space and integrating the use of 3-D printers into its classes.

“The main appeal (for entrepreneurial students) is rapid prototyping,” Layne said. “With 3-D printers it’s easy to make things opposed to trying to find a way to build it.”

This print is unique because it uses one strand of plastic in a non-stop motion, making the print thin but fast to finish Photo credit: Alex Grant

Student workers at the Makerspace said they have mostly encountered engineering and business students using the space so far, but can see where other academic disciplines fit in.

“Computer animation gaming students can make 3-D models of their characters that they’ve designed in a digital space,” said Matthew Mione, another Makerspace student adviser.

Computer animation and game development students can use 3-D printers to create models of their characters. Any student can use the printers after a short orientation from Makerspace workers. Photo credit: Alex Grant

According to Newell, the college of humanities and fine arts has expressed interest in using the space for stage design, costume making and sculpture.

Dodecahedron printed in the new Makerspace. Photo credit: Alex Grant

He is hopeful that any Chico State student can find a use for the Makerspace.

“I’m looking forward (to) what this brings out of the university as it recognizes this as a place for students to encounter, grow and learn from doing something that maybe is hidden away in their discipline, but doesn’t need to be,” Newell said.

Spaceship model printed using a 3-D printer in Meriam Library's Makerspace. Photo credit: Alex Grant

Lizzie Helmer can be reached at [email protected] or @lizziehelmer on Twitter.

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