At the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, the students do not only use 3D printers, they are surrounded by them. They are part of what makes William and Mary a leader in advanced, hands-on learning and what makes them one of the best schools in the country.
The main William and Mary EVO printer farm is located in Earl Gregg Swen Library.
Professor Jonathan Frey, Director of Makerspaces at William and Mary, demonstrates how students and staff utilize additive manufacturing and gives insight on how this technology is implemented into different departments on campus. From biology to engineering, 3D printers are nearly everywhere.
Video: Jonathan Frey – Director of the Makerspaces at William and Mary
Professor Frey explains that all attendees must learn how to create models and to 3D print. In his opinion, a 3D printer is a tool that can be used in combination with other technologies to achieve the best outcomes.
The home to the Makerspaces at William and Mary – The Earl Gregg Swem Library.
The college has several different 3D printers and 3D printing technologies, with the Airwolf EVO and EVO 22 being the main workhorses – serving the majority of students on campus. The largest fleet of nine EVO’s is installed in the Earl Gregg Swem Library, which is the center hub for William and Mary’s students and home to the Makerspaces at William and Mary. The library’s staff have been able to develop a system to offer all students an opportunity to 3D print and they are able to accommodate hundreds of prints per month. Professor Frey could not stress enough the importance for a reliable hardware system when being utilized in a college environment, and that the EVO’s more than fit the bill with the high quality construction and rugged design. They are also the go-to machines for everyday printing parts, both large and small scale.
The entrance to the EVO 3D printer farm at the College of William and Mary.
“We want every student, faculty and staff to be able to use, understand and design for 3d printers.”
3D Printing In Education
When he is not running the Makespaces at William and Mary, Professor Frey teaches Introduction to Mechanical Engineering and has an impressive list of projects that he assigns the students each year. The physical examples are impressive as are the other technologies in the classrooms, illustrating the importance of hands-on learning and how this machinery is changing the lives of students. Clearly, these projects prepare students with the knowledge and skills to tackle advanced technical challenges.
Professor Frey’s classroom features a diverse mix of traditional and advanced tools and machines.
The Swarm Robotics platform developed by Professor Frey and his students is a great example of large ABS printing used in a real application. Printing ABS at this size can be troublesome, and the EVO 22 was the perfect choice for such large prints. The autonomous robotic Swarm boats were printed at almost two feet long on the EVO 22, and are controlled by Graupner Voith Schneider motors.
The Autonomous Swarm Robotic Boat platform was developed together with Professor Frey and his students.
The Whiteboard Marker Plotter draws the William and Mary emblem.
The 3D Printed White Board Marker Plotter is hooked up and ready to go, capable of drawing the school’s emblem. It is impressive to watch, and makes for an exciting robotic project for the students.
Several water pump prototypes ready to be tested for functionality.
The Water Pump Project
The several 3D printed water pumps are the final renditions of working designs that the students model, 3D print, and then actually use and prove out. The design and creativity of the projects displays William and Mary’s commitment to 3D printing and how students are benefiting from the technology.
Senior Capstone Project
The EVO has been a great workhorse for the campus in general, but it also serves as the center of advanced research and development for a group of Engineering Physics and Applied Design students for the Senior Capstone requirement. The year-long project is done by the team of students along with a faculty advisor. The goal for the group led by Professor Frey is to develop a printer capable of printing in active piezo-electric materials. In other words, plastic that moves. This is done by using the EVO as a base and developing a print head capable of sending extremely high amounts of electricity through the printed material.
The print head that was developed to print active piezo-electric material for the Senior Capstone Research Project.
Working with 3D printers as a student is one thing, but having a teacher and mentor who has a passion and love for the technology is what really makes the integration of the technology work. Without the proper faculty and staff putting in the effort and time to properly introduce and utilize 3D printing in a student environment, a 3D printer could be misunderstood, misused and abandoned. Choosing the right machines is also key for success, and the EVO proves to be a reliable machine that the College of William and Mary can depend on.