3D Printing Projects

October 15, 2014 | Greg Astill

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It has been almost three quarters of a year since we opened the Digital Innovation Hub at the Reference Library. It’s been amazing to see how many customers have come down to check out the service, attend classes and participate in the numerous workshops. I know I can speak for all the staff, when I say, that it’s been great to see the wonderful range of projects that library customers have decided to pursue in the Hub. We have been lucky to get a front row seat in assisting customers doing some of the most amazing work, from digitizing old VHS tapes; to scanning; learning Illustration and desktop design; or dabbling in both audio and video Production; and of course 3D Printing.

The 3D printing that we have seen in the Hub ranges from just projects of simple curiosity to advanced rapid prototyping. Projects can be as basic as a cell phone case, or a character from a TV show or movie that they found online. What has amazed the staff are the entrepreneurs who have come in and designed a whole project that they are hoping to bring to the mainstream market one day. I would love to tell you more about those, but I’m afraid I can’t. But when we can, I will definitely share them with you.

Arm Prototype

Over the span of a few weeks, I will take the time to share some stories from within the Hub walls. Projects that were developed and completed using the many resources that are available. Success stories that will help inform and inspire other customers with their goals and ideas.

The project I chose to start writing about is one that is on the larger scale of what we generally see. A group of students from University of Toronto’s engineering department came in with the plan to print a hand and an arm. Their goal was to make it fully robotic. 

With access to the 3D printers here, available at a significantly lower cost than commerical 3D printers, the group was able to print not one but two full projects. With their final prints, the expertise and knowledge they learned in school, this amazing group successfully transformed plastic into a fully robotic hand and arm. 

Building the project

Thestudents Bo, Justin and Rob were able to write programming code and wire the arm fully with motors and sensors to complete a school project. The version in the photos is one they hope to build on over time and add new technology in time that will control the hand/arm using brain waves. 

The students with their project

They came by the Hub a couple of weeks ago to help promote the use of the 3D printers at the Digital Innovation Hub, and to show library customers what can be achieved using these great resources.

Interacting with the library customers