SLIS on the Future of 3D Printing

July 01, 2015

3D Printer

3D Printing Peripherals: Real and Speculative, from the SLIS Unbound blog

Over the past few years, 3D printing has become a frequent subject of discussion in the library world. Library makerspaces have proliferated. Patrons have printed innovative and essential objects, including prosthetic hands. Now that 3D printers are becoming a common feature in public libraries, we’re beginning to see discussion of potential legal dangers, and the formulation of rules to keep this new technology from creating problems. Debate is ongoing about whether 3D printers represent a major source of innovation or a passing fad. We at Unbound even weighed in on the subject last year

Whether or not we’ll all have 3D printers in our homes one day, it’s undeniable that they’ve made an impact. Today we’ll be taking a look at two new technologies that synchronize with 3D printers to expand the scope of what they can produce. One of them is currently finding its way into libraries across the country, and the other is still a laboratory prototype.

3D Scanners are tools for turning physical objects into digital models. Just as the 3D printer took manufacturing from a factory scale into the home, 3D scanners make three-dimensional imaging possible without a large, expensive device like an MRI scanner. Indeed, many 3D Scanners on the market today are produced by the same companies that produce 3D Printers. The devices make sense together—one could scan an object and then use the resulting model to print a replica of it. But how accurate will that replica be?

Here at the Simmons School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), our tech lab owns a 3D scanner called the MakerBot Digitizer. To learn more about its efficacy, I consulted with Linnea Johnson (Manager of Technology) and Gabriel Sanna (SLIS student).  

Read the full article at Unbound