Free 3-D Printing at Digital Union a Huge Success
85 projects. 5 months. 100% positive feedback on printed projects. (Oh, and did we mention free?)
The Digital Union (DU) 3-D printing program, launched in January, provides printing services to 10 student projects a week, free of charge. After running a successful pilot program, Digital Union staff used feedback from participants to improve the quality of the 3-D printing program.
During the pilot program, many participants were confused about which DU they should visit to pick up their items. To alleviate this issue, the Stillman Hall DU became the central hub for 3-D printing needs.
The DU staff added a second color choice field to the request form, allowing students more control over the outcome of their print, even if their first choice color was unavailable.
Providing a clear and simple submission process was one of the larger changes implemented after the pilot. Initially students were unable to have their jobs printed in a timely manner because of the volume of submissions, and often did not know why their submission was rejected. Since then, a rubric and clear submission guidelines have been published on the DU website. Priority is given to submissions that demonstrate originality, academic need, and innovative potential. If print jobs are not accepted, an email is sent detailing other 3-D printing avenues such as Tech Hub.
“From the beginning of the program we have been making changes to the queue to streamline the process and make communication easier,” said Jay Young, a student employee at the DU. “These changes help staff achieve their goal of getting the print as close to what the student wants as possible.”
“The 3-D printing program gives students the opportunity to try and fail at no risk to them, which is a perfect breeding ground for new designs and creations” said Young.
Many students such as chemical engineering student Angelina Sorice, have benefited from the streamlined application. She created a stand for her clarinet with the SOLIDWORKS skills she had developed in class, and plans to execute more projects in the future.
“I was happy that instructions on how to print were displayed and easy to follow on the DU website,” Sorice said. “I valued that I was able to create my first design and have it printed free of cost, as I didn't know how it would even turn out. Now I use my clarinet stand almost every practice and will possibly bring it with me to rehearsals.”
Students such as Sorice showcase the impact that 100% positive feedback can have on new users. The ease of application, and resources provided by the DU encouraged her not only to try 3-D printing, but to continue developing new skills and ideas for future prints. The pilot and continued feedback from students has allowed the DU to improve the 3-D printing process.
“We learned a lot from the pilot, and are continuing to learn even more now,” said Queenie Chow, Manager of the Digital Union. “Quite a bit of behind-the-scenes work has gone into this, and I'm thrilled to see that it shows through in our survey results.”
Take your ideas to the DU this summer; request your own 3-D print or check out past student projects for inspiration.