This week marked the arrival of the MakerBot Replicator, signaling WesternU’s initial foray into the 3D printing community.
The MakerBot Replicator represents the 5th generation of 3D desktop printers, which allows for an 11% increase in build volume and faster print times. A 100 micron layer resolution enables the the printing of complex, high-resolution prototypes and models with surfaces that need no sanding, finishing, or postproduction treatment.
The MakerBot Replicator will be used primarily to test print 3D models of anatomical structures. Multimedia developer Gary Wisser: “Initially we’ll be test printing bone models, organ models, and other soft tissue models. Down the road, we hope to use it to test some prosthetic devices and dental models as well.” Facilities is even looking at the Replicator as a way to to print some plastic replacement parts needed around campus.
To learn more about the Replicator, you can go to the MakerBot website at http://store.makerbot.com/replicator. There is a link to a video demonstration on the home page.
For the time being, the printer will be set up in the Classroom Multimedia Services *CMS) central office in HPC 209. Once the unit has been set up and calibrated, materials will need to be ordered and time scheduled for R&D. Gary Wisser: “Once we have a better grasp of the process pipeline, we’ll create the necessary request form for the IT Web page and options in IT’s HEAT tracking system.”
With a better understanding of WesternU’s anatomic modeling needs and the experience gained through this desktop model, the university plans to investigate even more sophisticated replicators that will print more complex structures at a higher resolution.
The printer we purchased is the (Generation 5).
We also plan to add 3D scanning to our request forms.