3D printing was launched at Illinois State University’s Milner Library as part of our Make It Space initiative in the fall of 2018. Initial interest was strong, but our staff was flooded with requests after we moved the printer to a highly visible, publicly accessible space. Since then, we’ve had requests from students for everything from tuba mouthpieces for musicians in Illinois State’s marching band, The Big Red Marching Machine, to model wrens for use in doctoral research projects in the School of Biological Sciences (plus everything in between, such as mini Boba Fett figurines and models of the head of our mascot, Reggie Redbird).
Additionally, uses that we never could have imagined in 2018 popped up during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Milner staff organized and led a team of IT units with 3D printers on campus, which included the College of Business and Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts, to collectively make 900 face shields for the Mclean County Emergency Management Agency for use by doctors and first responders.
The demand has been so great that three additional printers have been added to the library over the past three years. Unlike many universities with 3D printers, Milner offers 3D printing services free of charge, and library staff oversees the printing in-house. Students, faculty, and staff simply need to fill out a form and their vision can be brought to life. We receive new requests almost daily, and we love seeing the creativity that our students bring to this expanded service.
Today's guest blog post is from Michelle Neuffer, Director of Marketing & Communications, Milner Library, Illinois State University