Computer Science 3D Printers
Interview with Scott Johnson, Lab Coordinator
Q: What models does the Computer Science department have?
A: Our larger 3D printer is the Anycubic 13 Mega. We have two models of the Monoprice Mini V2, which print smaller items.
Q: Who can use them?
A: These are free for any CS major, all faculty, and staff from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Q: Where are the printers located?
A: The printers and the materials used to print are in the MCS 590 Lab Suite.
Q: What can students use these for?
A: To print pieces for cable management, storage, desktop decorations, replacement parts, display pieces, tools, and small signs. We had one professor who designed a customized part for his computer. You can even do a full room model with the proper software.
Q: Does this require advanced coding skills?
A: Not at all. Sketchup and CAD are used to create pieces. Blender is free software that some people have used. Thingiverse.com is a great site to get ideas or print something quickly from their selection.
Q: What is used to create the pieces?
A: We use PLA filament for our 3D printers that have no harmful fumes when melted. They are essentially made from corn sugar, so the material is biodegradable and sustainable. It’s very strong and you can make the pieces with 10%-100% backfill. For example, a 20% backfill creates a honeycomb structure on the inside, so it’s not completely solid. The more dense the piece, the longer it takes to print and the more filament it uses.
Q: How hot does the machine get?
A: The nozzle can reach over 400 degrees Fahrenheit, so that can burn someone. The build plate is heated to allow for easy removal of the plastic. It’s not intensely hot, but I wouldn’t recommend touching it very much.
Q: How can this help students?
A: 3D printers are a great problem-solving tool. Students can use it to visualize projects and practice manufacturing items that they create themselves. Students also need experience running machines and equipment for real-world jobs. Gaining new skills is always helpful.
Q: Any advice when printing something?
A: Yes: don’t let the 3D printer computer go to sleep during the process. If it does, you may have to re-start the whole thing!
Deadline: June 1, 2019, midnight