Research Communications

3D printer offers university, community capacity for design and manufacturing projects 

Prototyping center is first step in proposed regional business plan

ATHENS, Ohio (Oct. 17, 2013)—Ohio University has purchased a new 3D printer that will allow the university and regional community to design prototypes and manufacture products on demand.

The printer, an Objet350 Connex from Stratasys, has eight print heads to create objects from a wide variety of materials. It can be used to manufacture pieces for student art and engineering design projects or small products that can be sold by regional businesses. It's the largest and most sophisticated 3D printer acquired by Ohio University to date.

The machine, purchased for $250,000, is located at the Innovation Center, Ohio University's technology business incubator in Athens. The incubator will manage requests from university and community users to book time on the printer. A laboratory director will assist clients in the process of translating 3D designs into 3D objects.
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The new 3D printer is located at the Innovation Center in Athens. (Photo: Innovation Center)

"We're addressing the high cost of developing prototypes for client companies while providing the university and the business sector with a technology capable of speeding up the process of realizing ideas. This is a significant investment that should increase creative learning and collaboration across campus," said Jennifer Simon, director of the Innovation Center.

The acquisition of the 3D printer was spearheaded by Jeff Wiseman, an executive-in-residence at Ohio University's Edison Biotechnology Institute and the TechGROWTH Ohio economic development program, and Jesus Pagan, assistant professor of engineering technology and management at the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. Wiseman and Pagan have been involved in commercializing technologies and developing startup companies that stem from university and regional research in the areas of biotechnology, medical devices and energy and environmental technologies.

The creation of a prototyping center with a 3D printer at the Innovation Center is one step in a larger plan to create more infrastructure for manufacturing growth in Appalachia. The university envisions the creation of a manufacturing network with partners spanning the Appalachian Ohio region: the Muskingum County Business Incubator and the Zane State Center for Robotics in Zanesville, ACEnet in Nelsonville, the Lancaster Economic Development Commission and The Ohio State University South Centers and Shawnee State University in southern Ohio.

"By leveraging the business expertise and existing infrastructure across the region, we can more effectively grow and support manufacturing expansion and economic development efforts," Wiseman said.
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Ohio University scientist Lawrence Witmer used the 3D printer to manufacture this model of a dinosaur skull. (Photo courtesy of Witmer).

At Ohio University, the new 3D printer will be used as a tool to foster collaborations across the institution. It will support the imagining and design of innovative new products and the transformation of these designs into tangible, working inventions. 

The project attracted funding from multiple university units: the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity, the Edison Biotechnology Institute, the Innovation Center, the School of Art + Design, the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, the College of Health Sciences and Professions and the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition, the Ohio Development Services Agency Third Frontier Incubator Program provided support.

"Artists have been using 3D printers for a number of years already, but the purchase of this new 3D printer will help to make it more accessible to students, faculty and staff in the School of Art + Design and the College of Fine Arts," said David LaPalombara, director of the school. "Access to higher-end technology like this is increasingly important for our continued recruitment success at the undergraduate and graduate levels."

To schedule a project on the 3D printer and to discuss fees for usage, contact Joe Jollick, lab director of the Innovation Center, at (740) 593-1818 or jollick@ohio.edu.

Media contact:
Andrea Gibson, (740) 597-2166, gibsona@ohio.edu.
 3d vase
This vase was created to demonstrate some of the capabilities of the 3D printer. (Photo: Innovation Center.)