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Jan 08, 2019

Why 3D Printing is Important and How to Make the Most of It

by Olivia Di Iorio

What is 3D printing? Three-dimensional printing is “technology that produces 3D objects using a system of layering of materials that is based upon a computer-generated model.” *1 1

As a Graduate Assistant in the JMU Libraries and an Occupational Therapy graduate student, 3D printing has impacted me in many ways. Through my research, I have learned that 3D printing is important because it provides multiple uses that can benefit many different individuals: a pencil grasp for a child who has difficulty writing, a home for a family of four, a prosthetic limb for a veteran who wants to take walks in a park, or even an Invisalign retainer for a bride who wants a pearly white smile on her wedding day!

Three-dimensional printing requires a lot of patience. Most prints can take over 6+ hours depending on how much detail there is on the print, and how durable and large the print is.

Three-dimensional printing also requires problem-solving skills. When I first printed out my design, the print looked nothing like I wanted. When this happened, I had to retrace my steps to figure out what went wrong. It’s important to ask yourself questions like: is my print actually located on the build plate in the software? Is the build plate hot enough? Do I have support for this design so it does not fall over when being printed?

Overall, 3D printing is a wonderful piece of technology that is advancing every day. It has taught me that patience and problem-solving skills are required in order to design and print effectively. I hope to use what I have learned in my future practice as an occupational therapist; I hope that you are inspired to use your creativity to print something that will change yours or someone else’s life!

Interested in learning more about 3D printing for free?

Attend a JMU MADLab Class to learn more about 3D printing and what the JMU Libraries has to offer!

Interested in printing on your own for free?

Visit a Makery Space in the basement of Carrier Library or the first floor of Rose Library. There are trained individuals to help you!


*1 1 Lim, K., Loo, Z., Goldie, S., Adams, J., McMenamin, P. (2016). Use of 3D printed models in medical education: A randomized control trial comparing 3D prints versus cadaveric materials for learning external cardiac anatomy. Anatomical Sciences Education, 9, 213-221. doi:10.1002.1573 ?

Modified: Jan 08, 2019, 9:46 a.m.