New 3-D printer at U. library now available to any student, faculty

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SALT LAKE CITY — Officials at the University of Utah say their new 3-D printer that is now available to any student, faculty or staff is getting more and more popular, and the reasons for its use are expanding into surprising fields.

The 3-D printer is housed in the J. Willard Marriott Library and it has been humming for hours, printing out projects for those who know how to use the software.

“We are printing 24/7 right now, but we haven’t been doing that for a long time so we are still identifying how to deal with it,” said IT supervisor TJ Ferrill.

Ferrill had the idea to get the funding for the technology in August.

“The idea was to have a service that’s available to all students, faculty and staff and they come to the Marriott Library and check it out and try it out,” Ferrill said.

The cost is $5 a cubic inch, Ferrill said. Depending on the size of the project, it could take a few hours to print.

“People come and ask questions about the printer and we say, ‘you will have to learn how to model and use the software that interfaces with the printer’ and they do it,” Ferrill said.

It’s very popular with architecture and engineering students.

Ferrill said he has helped print out scale buildings for architecture students, models for engineering students and even models for the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

The Huntsman Cancer Institute printed a mold for a prosthetic foot, Ferrill said. The plastic and plaster process can be thousands of dollars, but the printer made it happen for a few hundred.

“If you had a micro controller you could put it in here, the material here, you can’t break this," he said. "This is incredibly strong stuff.”


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