By: Jason Valladares

Interactive design grad Nick Haddad holds a bracelet made using the 3D printer. The bracelet was the first made on campus using a transparent resin.

If you’ve ever been inside the Print Shop located in the Student Commons Building, chances are you might not have even noticed it: the 3D printer. It’s slightly larger than a standard office printer but instead of ink, the Objet30 uses cartridges of a special resin and support material to create three-dimensional objects limited only to the user’s imagination.

Some of the models on display at the Print Shop include a miniature Yoda figurine, a chess piece and a multi-deck sailing ship with great detail. The latest object and the first ever to be printed using a transparent resin at the college, is a wearable bracelet with an almost web-like design that took approximately ten hours to print.

“We can also print objects using a high-temperature material, which would allow different applications, for example parts for a lamp, or something that requires more heat-resistance,” said Nick Haddad, graduate of the interactive design program and a current Print Shop technician.

“We are looking to expand our 3D printing offerings by purchasing a variety of 3D printers that will allow students to choose between low cost large 3d prints and high quality more expensive options.” said Haddad.

The process from concept to completion of the models requires some time, planning and patience, Haddad explained. The Print Shop accepts .STL files (Standard Tessellation Language) which is the standard file type for 3D Printing. Users can either develop their own 3D object files

or download these files from various websites. The Print Shop technicians then examine the document for any corruptions, and can be begin the printing process.

Depending on the type of resin being used and object being printed, items can be made in as little as few minutes to several hours also depending on the object’s complexity and size. The Print Shop has already printed models that range from $4 to $700.

Mark Hoddenbagh, director of the applied research and innovation program explained that the printer was obtained by the college with assistance from the Print Shop as well as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada which provided a grant to the program to help bring new technology to the college.

Some Algonquin students have already taken advantage of the technology to create three-dimensional objects for class projects and assignments.

Paul West, co-coordinator for the animation program, recalls one of his graduates, Brad Waever, printing a three-inch tall cartoon figurine called “The Tax Man” last year, which was featured in a self-produced short film made by Waever.

“It had big, old glasses and it looked really cool,” West said.  “There were some things that couldn’t be done, but it was still very cool to see how a two-dimensional drawing could be printed out and made into a 3D model.”

While West did acknowledge that 3D printing is still in its infancy stages, he said he is open to incorporating the technology into the animation curriculum especially if any of his students wished to do so.

Haddad said that the Print Shop hopes to involve the college faculty and encourages the incorporation of 3D printing as part of the curriculum.

“Interested students would have that option, said Haddad. “The Print Shop is here to support the College and students with new technology.”