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Technology Sector – Centre for Academic Technology’s (CAT) 3D Printing Solutions

While some may view The University of Winnipeg’s Technology Sector as a one-stop shop for all tech-related needs, it also provides a myriad of services to the UWinnipeg campus which stretch far beyond software, desktop, and network solutions. Its latest endeavour? The use of 3D printing technology, which can provide fixes and craft replacement parts for equipment repair and enhance and advance teaching and learning.

Recently completed were the first printed products from the Academic Machine Shop’s 3D printer, with both projects completed in support of the Department of Chemistry’s teaching labs.

In one instance, CAT modelled and printed door slides that could be used in place of faulty parts that had rendered a high-precision balance unusable. Thanks to the new, 3D-printed slides, the access doors for the balance are functioning properly and providing an effective seal, thus restoring the previously inoperative balance back to working order.

The 3D printer was also used in the creation of tip ejector guides for pipettors. The ejector guides, as with the slides, were digitally modelled and created by way of the 3D printer. Each ejector guide was also printed with an engineering-grade and chemical-resistant material that can stand up to use around solvents which would have caused damage to common 3D printing materials.

Without the 3D-printed ejector guides, nearly a dozen replacement pipettors would have been needed at a cost of several hundred dollars per unit. With the new guides, replacement pipettors will no longer be necessary. This is a prime example of the cost-effective equipment repair solutions TSC can provide.

Math model: sinxcosyIn addition, CAT’s 3D printing tools can be utilized for the creation or replication of objects for the purposes of teaching and learning.

In pursuit of fulfilling the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), educators across all disciplines may seek to provide alternatives to traditional learning materials to enhance engagement and reach tactile and kinaesthetic learners. Through the use of 3D printed objects, students can touch, manipulate, and interact with all manners of content or subject matter. Consider not only the reproduction of scientific specimens or fragile historical artifacts, but also the ability to supply a physical representation of models from across many areas of study – math, chemistry, art history, archaeology, and more. This technology can broaden how students learn and interpret course material in ways that would be otherwise impossible.

Further, 3D printed objects can allow for greater accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Physical objects can, in some cases, remove barriers for students and create a more inclusive learning environment.

For additional information on 3D printing projects, to learn about ways CAT may be able assist with replacement parts or equipment repairs, or investigate ways to enhance teaching and learning through the use of 3D printing, contact cat@uwinnipeg.ca.

Other CAT services include video production, desktop support, classroom user and event support from Media Services, the Learning Management System (LMS) team, Technology Support Services (TSS), Studio Services, and much more. Visit the Technology Sector website for more.

Images: Spinal Bone by Artec 3D. Math model: sinxcosy (created with OpenSCAD Graph Generator by DolmondBoi)