A nursing professor requested a female pelvic bone and an infant skull from the University of Findlay’s Information Technology Services Department, a request that sounds outlandish until you take into account the 3-D printer that arrived there this summer.
The plastic pelvic bone and skull will enhance birthing anatomy instruction, and are simply two of many items that have incited, and will cause, unlikely utterances in UF’s ITS office spaces, of all places.
“It’s like, ‘Yeah, come over and get your pelvis,’” joked academic technologist Emily Walling.
A Shafer Library librarian asked for game pieces for an orientation-related lesson for first-year students to learn about the library’s services, and for other fun activities. Academic Technologist Steve Clymer, while learning a 3-D design program, made watering can spouts to affix to regular drinking water bottles.
Since receiving the Lulzbot TAZ 6 printer, ITS members have been learning to operate it so that they can fulfill various made-to-order requests. They’ve practiced using free templates from ThingiVerse, an open source site with ready-made designs from the company and from individuals who have created their own and wished to share them with the world. Some items made so far at UF include a butterfly with pieces requiring assembly, a Millennium Falcon model, key chains and more.
The maximum printable dimensions are 11-by-11 inches.
Free tutorial software for beginners also is available to assist those who wish to make their own creations
“We’re encouraging people to try to make their own designs,” said Walling.
Most items are made from ropes of pure plastic, but some materials also include natural fibers such as silk and hemp for more flexibility and a different aesthetic.
The printer was purchased after campus survey data showed high demand for such a tool (more so than virtual reality devices), according to Walling.
Nursing instructor Rebecca Terry, MSN, RN, is eager to use the pieces she had ITS craft for her.
“The pelvis will be used to show nursing students how the newborn goes through the pelvis – descent, engagement, flexion, internal rotation, extension, external rotation and expulsion,” Terry explained. “The newborn skull will be utilized to show the nursing students newborn suture lines and the anterior/posterior fontanelles which can assist the skull to mold (change shape) during the birthing process.”
Terry said she thinks the printer has excellent potential for creating additional practical 3-D learning tools, particularly for the benefit of College of Health Professions students.
Walling said word has gotten out about the printer, and interest continues to increase. An ITS twitter post that includes a short video of the machine creating the pelvis has been liked and shared numerous times.
“To have it (printer) come here is a big deal. It’s a lot of fun. As more people are learning about it, more people are getting excited about it,” Walling noted.