Academic Libraries as Makerspace: 3D Printing and Knowledge Creation


Published on

As part of an ongoing plan to transform an underutilized science and engineering library into a lively incubator for student-faculty collaboration and innovation, staff at the University of Nevada, Reno decided to launch a bold initiative: build a 3D scanning and printing “makerspace” and make it available to the entire campus. The service has been wildly successful with 3D printers running 24 hours a day. Furthermore, positioning the library as a place that facilitates knowledge creation beyond text based tools and resources has been a game changer. Students are highly motivated to learn new skills in order to take advantage of new technologies ( gets heavy use); they experiment and iterate quickly to perfect their designs. Even better, students from engineering are now rubbing elbows with people from fields such as biology, computer science, geology, and even art. Like the printing press and the personal computer, 3-D printers have been hailed as a revolutionary device that will ultimately transform the way the world operates.

Published in: Education, Business
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Our 3D printers use ABS plastic as the build material.
  • Basically, 3D printing lays down thin layers of plastic and as the layers build up, a 3 dimensional object is formed. Above are a few examples of the many objects that have been created on our 3D printers during the first 3.5 months of operation.
  • It’s similar to cake decorating i.e. squeezing frosting through a hole in a plastic bag. The ABS plastic is heated (to liquefy) then forced through the extrusion nozzle as the head moves back and forth across the bed or build platform. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
  • In the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library at the University of Nevada, Reno, we have a 3D printing workspace featuring two 3D printers: the 3DTouch and the StratasysuPrint SE Plus. The 3DTouch is a hobbyist model while the Stratasys is a (lower end) production machine. [There is a significant difference in cost and performance]
  • We also have a Next Engine 3D scanner, the same scanner Jay Leno uses (in case you were curious). 3D printing is not new, it’s been around since the ‘80s, but only very recently has it become compact, efficient and affordable enough to gain broad appeal. Very similar to the rise of the PC in the 1980s.
  • Many agree that desktop manufacturing/fabrication is “cool” – but why in the library? Does it really belong there?
  • Yes. UNR’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center (KC), a combined IT/Library/Instructional IT/New Media facility, was created to “nurture creativity and stimulate intellectual inquiry” by providing a “pioneering information environment.” DeLaMare Library, the engineering and science branch library of UNR’s Knowledge Center, shares this mission.
  • The @One floor of the Knowledge Center is a mecca of leading edge technology and media production: the DataWorks lab for geospacial, mathematical and statistical needs; a poster and image production area; the Dynamic Media Lab for digital creation and production; high end editing room; professional sound booth, and green screen studio. There’s also equipment checkout: laptops (of course) but also cameras, video cameras, sound equipment, iPads and other tablets, etc. In @One, we consciously privilege the image over the text.
  • We’re now extending our privileging of innovative information technologies to include 3D printing and scanning in DeLaMare Science & Engineering Library. Mission-wise, it’s a perfect fit.
  • Influence of MIT’s FabLabs. I had been smitten while living in the UAE (2004-2010) after reading about the impact of FabLabs in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As quoted above, “Give ordinary people the right tools and they will build extraordinary things.” FabLabs provided “tools of empowerment.” An intriguing and inspiring idea.
  • Great idea but needs the right location. Just 2 years ago, the DeLaMare Library (DLM) looked like the above photos. Originally a library for the school of mining, DLM was located in a stately historical building on the historic front quad of the university. It underwent an extensive renovation in the 1990s. Beautiful architecture, woodwork and trim. An occasional student would come to study…and sleep in the silence of gently decaying dusty journals.
  • The new head of DeLaMare, Tod Colegrove, knew that change was needed. In 2011, he started by moving 65,000 l.f. of material to the KC’s automated storage and retrieval system to create space for people instead of shelving. He moved in tables, chairs (surplus from other places), computers and painted the walls with whiteboard paint. Within weeks, the head count went from 2 per floor to 50. Use has since risen 600%.
  • While some objected to mismatched furniture and “graffiti” walls, they missed the point. This formerly tomb-like place was now alive. The students were engaged in collaborative learning – see the ring structure across the wall in the photo above – enlivened by the space and the tools now available to them. By revitalizing the space, we had revitalized learning.
  • Tod reached out and got engineering, chemistry and computer science faculty to hold office hours and ad hoc classes, do student presentations, etc in the library. Above, a computer science class is presenting their semester projects – they had to create games that would play on our MS Surface.
  • Tod Colegrove, head of DeLaMare, is a physicist and entrepreneur and only recently a librarian. He believes the library must be relevant to student learning, must get students excited and engaged. Then learning happens.
  • Seeing that engineering students loved hands-on learning, Tod purchased kits of all kinds – AR Drones, Arduinos, Raspberry Pi, Legos Mindstorms - and made them available for checkout. This encourages students to take ownership of their own learning. Our experience bears this out.
  • Student projects using the kits got attention - and they gave credit to the library.
  • Faculty use 3D printing for instructional purposes…
  • …and for research purposes. The Tower of Piza shown here is fresh from the 3D printer and shows both build and support material. After being placed in a solvent bath, the support material dissolves and only the build material remains. In the finished Tower of Piza, you can see past the delicate spiral staircase and into the center of the tower. Impressive.
  • Students use 3D printing. Chris “printed” the pieces to make his ownRepRap 3D printer (some metal parts must be purchased).
  • Paintball pro Patrick is working on a top secret prototype, a project that could end the huge waste problem of unexploded paint balls. He is currently seeking a patent.
  • Heather started with artisanal skulls but ended up creating a variety of mathematical objects to help her students learn abstract concepts, like this cosine bowl.
  • Doug created an elaborate board game in his head years ago – but with a 3D printer he could make it a reality. He created several iterations of the game pieces and board. He is now talking with a manufacturer.
  • Staff use 3D printing, too. One example: Nick, a library staff member and photography buff, has created several objects including a scale model of a famous campus statue.
  • Must have the software tools in addition to the hardware. Also necessary, guides and tutorials such as Finally, must have motivated students because there is a significant learning curve.
  • Most important: energetic, capable and adventurous staff. Credit for our 3D printing service belongs to Tod Colegrove and Lisa Kurt, our talented, entrepreneurial and committed DIY librarians. Because of the many challenges involved in launching an entirely new technology, success rides on staff who will champion the project, embrace ambiguity and are willing to learn alongside the students.
  • Critical success factors, contd. 1) Motivated, determined & adaptable staff. 2) Cultivating an environment that fosters collaboration, creativity and playfulness. Before there was 3D printing, UNR libraries sponsored many low tech makerspace activities. Button making is still wildly popular.
  • (Success factor 2, contd.) Cultivating a spirit of inquiry and playful “messing around.” John Seely Brown talks about surfers and skateboarders borrowing elements and learning from each other, trying them out, adjusting on the fly and trying again. “Rapid prototyping” or agile development is learning through failure. We believe 3D printing enables, encourages and enriches this style of learning.
  • Situate students in an environment where they are free to explore, play, fail and try again and again. Create a welcoming space where experts, students and faculty peers mix freely and share ideas naturally, across disciplines. This photo is from a workshop in DeLaMare bit taught by members of Reno’s local makerspace community.
  • Another workshop in the library but taught by a local community member. The 3D enterprise is rooted in the idea that innovation comes from bumping up against other ideas. Borrowing, mixing, improving, reiterating very quickly. Reaching out to the local community of “maker” types is an important part of the plan.
  • Lisa has connected DLM library with our local software developer community. The Reno Collective is a group of self-employed, home based developers and entrepreneurs who share office space. DeLaMare and the Collective have recently cohosted hack-a-thons and workshops for the campus and local community.
  • Lisa and Tod advise “embrace the maker ethos.” Make stuff. Share. The maker community is very like the library community. It is organized. It has basic rules. It values open source and sharing and empowerment. <see free/low cost 3D projects on Flickr, GitHub, Thingiverse, etc.>
  • 3D printing allows you to make things that were unmakeable before. It can do farmore than your brain can imagine. It invites geometry; complexity is not an obstacle. [tell about hermit crab shells, nautilus, not a problem; digital sneeze; capture flight of moth around flame as sculpture]
  • Failure is part of the strategy (it’s not a bug, it’s a feature!) Try again. Learning faster by failing faster.
  • We’re not the only folks bullish on 3D printing. Chris Anderson, former editor of Wired magazine, claims it represents “a revolutionary new phase of the industrial revolution.” Desktop publishing revolutionized the publishing industry when massive print "factories" and unions were replaced by clicking PRINT from your PC. He believes that's what 3D printers represent, nothing less than the consolidation of the massed factories of the industrial revolution, into a singe icon on your computer's screen: "Make."
  • Can’t wait to print my own shoes! Questions? Please contact me,
  • Academic Libraries as Makerspace: 3D Printing and Knowledge Creation

    1. 1. Photo by Nick Crowl: Library as Makerspace: 3D Printing andKnowledge CreationKathlin L. RayUniversity of Nevada, Reno
    2. 2. • What is 3D printing?• Why is it in the library?• Who uses it and for what purpose?• What are the critical success factors?• Where do we go from here?Today’s discussion:
    3. 3. Additive manufacturing or 3D printingis a process of making three dimensionalsolid objects from a digital model.3D printing is achieved using additiveprocesses, where an object is created bylaying down successive layers ofmaterial.What is 3D printing?
    4. 4. Printing - paper or plastic?
    5. 5. 3D printers and scanner1) 3DTouch2) Stratasys uPrint SE PlusPhotos by Nick Crowl: NextEngine 3D Scanner
    6. 6. 3D printers and scanner1) 3DTouch2) Stratasys uPrint SE PlusPhotos by Nick Crowl: NextEngine 3D Scanner
    7. 7. • What is 3D printing?• Why in the library?• Who uses it and for what purpose?• What are the critical success factors?• Where do we go from here?Today’s discussion:
    8. 8. Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center“A pioneering information environmentdesigned to nurture creativity andstimulate intellectual inquiry.”
    9. 9. “The single greatest intellectual forceand competitive advantage in the21st century is the rapid assimilationof new knowledge to fuel innovation.”“New knowledge, applied to existingtasks, results in increasedproductivity; new knowledge appliedto new challenges and tasks isfundamental to innovation.”
    10. 10. “Recognizing this critical interplaybetween knowledge and innovation,the University of Nevada, Reno hasestablished one of the first centersin the nation built specifically toembrace these dynamics of the21st century.”
    11. 11. MIT Fab LabsRetrieved 10/26/2012:,, minecraftprint.comyou could make almost anything, what wouldit be?Give ordinary people the right tools, and theywill design and build the most extraordinarythings. That’s the idea behind Fab Lab. Wereworking to grow a Fab Lab here in DC! Image:Kashuo Bennetts laser-cut parametric model.
    12. 12. DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library (2010)
    13. 13. walls on every floor painted with whiteboard paintPhoto by Tod Colegrove:
    14. 14. whiteboard wall contest!
    15. 15. collaboration and conversationPhoto by Tod Colegrove:
    16. 16. Photo by Tod Colegrove:
    17. 17. Kits: Lego Mindstorms, SparkFun arduino, AR.Drones,MaKey MaKey, button maker, etc.Photo by Nick Crowl:
    18. 18. student project featured on SparkFun
    19. 19. • What is 3D printing?• Why in the library?• Who uses it and why?• What are the critical success factors?• Where do we go from here?
    20. 20. Ben King, chemistry“one of the very hard things aboutteaching chemistry is explainingthat molecules have shape. Thisbasically removes that obstacle it will change how we teachchemistry and how we look atmolecules on a daily basis. Itsalso just plain fun."Photo by Tod Colegrove: of King by Jason Hildago from Engadget:
    21. 21. Pavel Solin, applied mathematicsPLaSMRetrieved from: STEM lab:
    22. 22. Chris, computer science + theta tau“I like the networking portion and getting people from other backgroundstogether. You get your average engineering types, but it’s also nice to see thebiologists and the artists coming in here. It allows us to break out of the boxand cross-pollinate in ways we normally can’t.”
    23. 23. Photo by Tod Colegrove:, marketing + psychology (minor)
    24. 24. Heather, math education + tutorPhoto by Nick Crowl:“I think 3D printing is awesome. Now if Ican’t find a [math educational] resource, Ican just make one.”
    25. 25. Doug, engineering + art
    26. 26. Nick, library staff + photographerPhoto by Nick Crowl:
    27. 27. • What is 3D printing?• Why in the library?• Who uses it and why?• What are the criticalsuccess factors?• Where do we go from here?
    28. 28. 3D resources available on campusDLM Library: Rhino3D, SolidWorks, Autodesk InventorKnowledge Center labs: 3D Studio Max, SolidWorksOnline (free): Blender, SketchUp, TinkercadPhotos by Nick Crowl:
    29. 29. 3D printing success requiresextraordinary people and a cultural shiftLisaTod
    30. 30. maker break 1.0
    31. 31. “There are two critical things torealize. First, play is not trivial,frivolous or non-serious, in fact,quite the opposite. Play can be theplace where we do our most seriouslearning. And second, it issomething we do all the time. Whenwe explore, we play. When weexperiment, we play. When wetinker or fiddle, we play. Science isplay. Art is play. Life, to a greatextent, is play. Every great inventionof the past hundred years has hadan element of play in its creation.So we are using the word in a verydeep and serious way.”-John Seely BrownRetrieved from: by Nick Crowl:
    32. 32. assimilate them (in a good way)Photo by Nick Crowl:
    33. 33. Bridgewire collaborationPhoto by Nick Crowl:
    34. 34. Reno Collective collaborationRetrieved from:
    35. 35. • What is 3D printing?• Why in the library?• Who uses it and why?• What are the critical successfactors?• Where do we go fromhere?
    36. 36. embrace the maker ethosretrieved from:
    37. 37. 3D printing enriches learning andpromotes knowledge creationPhoto by Nick Crowl: Right 2 Photos by Will Kurt
    38. 38. it’s okay to fail. expect to.
    39. 39. Chris Anderson, ex editor of Wired:"3D Printing Will BeBigger Than The Web"
    40. 40. Questions?Kathlin L. Ray | Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center | University of Nevada,