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From Idea to Prototype in 24 Hours: 3D Printing Lab Parts at Douglass Library

January 5, 2016
3D printed sample holder

Sample holders for the Chemistry 171 magnetic susceptibility lab were 3D printed at Douglass Library.

3D printed sample holder

The sample holders allow a tube containing a sample substance to be held at a particular distance from the magnet.

Since its opening in the spring of 2014, the FabLab Makerspace in the Sharon A. Fordham Multimedia Lab and Commons at Rutgers University–New Brunswick’s Mabel Smith Douglass Library has steadily increased its impact on the university community.

In the FabLab’s first year of operation, Rutgers students, faculty, and staff 3D printed nearly 400 objects, using over 4,000 grams of PLA filament in the process.  These objects ran the gamut from decorative items and toys to equipment parts, architectural models, and engineering design projects, said Stacey Carton, manager of the Fordham Commons.

Kamil Woronowicz, lab supervisor for the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, is one of several members of the Rutgers faculty who have already learned first-hand the benefits of the FabLab’s technology.

Woronowicz turned to the Libraries in December for help 3D printing sample holders for the magnetic susceptibility lab, which was newly introduced in the fall semester as part of the Introduction to Experimentation course.  For this experiment, students test a material’s degree of magnetization in response to an applied magnetic field.  The sample holders, which allow a tube containing a sample substance to be held at a particular distance from the magnet, reduce the element of human error and help students build confidence with experimentation.

According to Woronowicz, 3D printing is easier, more cost effective, and faster than ordering traditionally machined parts.  In fact, he noted, the process took only about 24 hours to go from idea to prototype.  “It was very helpful to have such a convenient and fast facility to prototype and then make equipment for the lab,” he said.

The chemistry students and teaching assistants were excited to learn that the parts were 3D printed at Rutgers and that the technology is available for them to use, he explained, adding that he definitely plans to use the FabLab Makerspace again himself.

A series of introductory 3D design and printing workshops at the FabLab Makerspace is being planned for the spring semester.  Open to Rutgers students, faculty, and staff, these 90 minute workshops will explain the basics of Tinkercad and demonstrate how 3D technology can aid learning, teaching, and research.  Additional information on these workshops is forthcoming.