Beginning in December, Hatch Science Library will house a new resource for students: a fully equipped 3D printer. Printing will initially be free for a semester, after which a pricing model will be determined based on student use. 

Traditionally, students at Bowdoin have only had access to 3D printing for academic purposes through specific art classes or indirectly through professors. However, the new 3D printer in Hatch will be available to all students for recreational use. Students must learn the basics of using the machine from Science Librarian Sue O’Dell.  

“It is primarily for experimenters looking to experiment with new technology,” O’Dell said.

She stressed the importance of the machine as an avenue for inquisitive students to explore the capabilities of 3D printing. The printer does not serve a rigid academic purpose; it is intended to offer students a glimpse into a new generation of technology.

During the 3D-printing process, the printer itself is loaded with filament, which is then steadily molded by a precise nozzle on top of preceding layers to form the final product. 

“It lays down an outline and builds on top,” O’Dell said. “It’s an additive process. It prints with supports, as it builds from the ground up.”

3D printers are capable of designing and producing unique objects, many of which would be impossible to create on any other machine. Some of the first objects printed on the new machine were chess pieces with an ornate swirl.

“These chess pieces can only be built by a 3D printer, “O’Dell said. “It requires the specific additive process to form these spiraling patterns.”

The Library and Information Technology (IT) partnered to make the acquisition possible. 

Donald Detchou ’19 is excited about the prospect.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea in that I’ve never had the opportunity to use a 3D printer. As someone interested in the sciences, it’s a fun way to explore things I’m not comfortable with,” he said.

Most students would need instructions before they began printing. 

“It sounds really cool!” said Connor Walsh ’18. “[But] I wouldn’t even know what to do with it.”

The Library will officially unveil the printer during the first week of December. O’Dell said President Clayton Rose will have the honor of making the first official print out.