Every day we publish articles about remarkable people doing remarkable things with 3D printing. Long-established professions such as medicine are being revitalized every day by engineers and others with years of technical expertise. Some of my favorite stories, however, are about the students and young people who are just starting to explore the field. The novel ideas coming from universities, as well as from individuals on Kickstarter, have been some of the most interesting and creative uses of 3D printing technology that I have seen. The ingenuity and excitement these young people display bodes well for the future of the industry.
Daniel Luntzel, part of Colgate University‘s class of 2017, is one of those young people. This philosophy and computer science double major envisions the future of education and industry as a self-driven one, created by individuals with the skills to build, design and make their own livelihoods. Earlier this year, he created the Colgate Makers’ Club, a campus organization for makers in all fields, but with an initial focus on 3D printing.
“Founded at the end of last semester, the Colgate Makers Club is a new organization with grand ambitions on multiple fronts,” Luntzel said. “We approach making in the broadest sense, and hope to eventually accommodate and facilitate making of all varieties, from fashion design, to writing code, to building drones, to traditional crafts. Starting out however, we are focusing on 3D printing because it is relatively cheap and easy, and it enables and complements many other forms of making.”
Over the summer, the club purchased four 3D printers, three of which were kits that the students assembled themselves. Unfortunately, due to a lack of unallocated space on the school’s campus, a fully equipped makerspace was not feasible. They came up with an alternative, however.
“Instead of a central location that people must visit in order to make stuff, we are embracing the concept of a distributed makerspace,”Luntzel explained.”Every dorm and classroom has the potential to be a mini-makerspace.”
That distributed makerspace, however, would need to be equipped. And so the club’s first major initiative was born: the Build-Your-Own-Printer (BYOP) project. Before the end of this month, the club plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough money to purchase 100 Printrbot Simple Metal Kits, to be used in a series of printer-building workshops.
Those students who sign up for and complete the workshop series will walk away with their own, self-built 3D printers–and for free. Currently, the Makers’ Club is recruiting the first ten participants for BYOP. Those ten will be asked to take on a leadership role within the project, teaching workshops and becoming resident experts on 3D printing. They will also be responsible for driving the fundraising campaign, which will be launched directly from the club’s website with the goal of raising $50,000.
The Makers’ Club is already thinking forward to the club’s future goals beyond BYOP. Currently they are researching the possibility of building a large-format concrete printer, and, eventually, they plan to launch a competition to design a 3D printed building to function as a central makerspace. If the initiative succeeds, it would result in the world’s first inhabited 3D printed building. While an ambitious goal, this is one that the club’s members certainly seem to possess the drive to achieve.
“There are, and have been, lots of maker/3D printer groups at colleges,” Luntzel told 3DPrint.com.
“None (that we are aware of) truly embrace values of the larger maker movement in a principled way. But we are. We are building a flat organization. We are creating a decentralized and distributed web or mini-makerspaces (through giving away 100 3D printers). We are looking to take some of the university’s recycling burden through creating filament from consumer plastics that we will, ourselves, recycle…I think you’ll find that we are doing something special out here in CNY.”
If you’d like to back the BYOP project, keep an eye on the Colgate Makers’ Club homepage, as well as the site of its sister organization, disruptED. The fundraising campaign is expected to launch by the end of the month, with the first ten participants being recruited right now. If you’re interested in learning more, you can contact the club directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Discuss this Story in the Colgate Makers’ Club forum thread on 3DPB.com.