Expert Interview: Adam Rogers, NC State University
1)How long did it take to build and design Hunt Library? Does it have a subject specialty attached to it, such as "the undergraduate library", or "the engineering library" etc?
I know ground was broken on 10/23/2009, and the building opened on 1/2/2013. The building was a long time in the making before then, though. The library is really seen as second main library, but most of the population neighboring it is in NCSU's College of Engineering and College of Textiles. There's some more info here: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/huntlibrary/facts
2)How long have you been working at NC State? Also, how much experience do you/did you have with 3-D printing beforehand?
I have worked at NCSU Libraries for 2.5 years. I have been following the Maker Movement for a few years now, and am an electronics hobbyist in my spare time, but I am relatively new to the 3D printing world. I have taken some classes at our local TechShop (TechShop RDU), which has helped bring me up to speed.
3)What made the university decide to invest in 3-D printing in the first place, and why those particular machines? What is the largest object a student could conceivably choose to print?
Well, the university has 3D printers in some other places on campus, but the decision to purchase them for the library was really a library decision. We decided to invest in them because our library has a goal of exposing our students to new and emerging technologies, providing them the tools to succeed and giving them a competitive advantage. Also, they fit in great with the Hunt Library's vision of the "library of the future," experimental and technology-intensive.
We went with one relatively high-end machine, and one consumer-level machine so that we would have some variety in functionality and in the price. We decided on the MakerBot Replicator 2 for a number of reasons: it was brand new; it was the fourth generation of MakerBot machines (so hopefully some of the kinks have gotten worked out); I believe MakerBot has sold the most 3D printers at the hobbyist level, and it somewhat of the flagship company at that level (see September's Wired magazine cover). We decided on the Stratasys uPrint SE Plus after talking with a number of sales reps, communicating with other libraries who have 3D printers (one in Nevada had the uPrint and was very satisfied with it), and doing extensive research, particularly at this site: http://www.additive3d.com/3dpr_cht.htm. We decided to get the uPrint because it creates high-quality models in a durable, hard plastic that can actually be used as parts in machines, as functional prototypes, etc. Some of the other processes can get higher resolution, but don't create durable, usable models. Positive reports of them working reliably for years in labs and departments were a major selling point, too.
The build envelope (largest possible object) on the MakerBot is 11" x 6" x 6" and on the uPrint it's 8" x 8" x 6". There's some more info at: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/makerspace
4)In the article in The Technician, it notes that the library staff will work with the student to agree on a price for the object. Generally speaking, thus far, what would you consider an illustrative range for what's been printed?
As far as prices go, we have had some prints that were very small and under $1, and a few that were quite expensive, up to $50-75.
5)Does NCSU have any plans to further invest in 3-D printing that you are aware of?
I can't speak to the campus at large, other than to say it the school has a big focus on engineering and technology, so they must. Also, there is a Rapid Prototyping Lab in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department which has been studying 3D printing for years and will continue to do so. (See http://www.ise.ncsu.edu/labs-new/rapid-prototyping-lab.php ). As for the library, we have no plans to invest further yet, but so far the response from the campus community has been very positive, so it's possible.