‘Outlet for Imagination:’ Exploring Albion College’s 3D Innovation Lab

One of three plastic 3D printers displayed at the entrance of the Innovation Lab. The lab has rescources for students to both practice their creativity and learn (Photo by Killian Altayeb).

Since it first opened its doors in Feb. of 2022, Albion College’s 3D Innovation Lab has grown in a variety of ways. In the words of the Director of Instructional Technology and Web Development, Sarah Noah, it’s become a “good way for anyone to learn, no matter what your major is.” 

“We want students to enter a different realm when they walk in. We have virtual reality, 3D printing, 3D design, but you also have the innovative stuff here,” Noah said. “Students should come in and constantly learn something new.” 

Hudsonville sophomore and Innovation Club Vice President Jeremy Timmer said that the “materials in the lab are used for more than expanding creativity.” 

“3D innovation is so broad, and I think that’s what makes it so awesome,” Timmer said. “It’s limited only to what you can think of. I think it’s very powerful.”

Besides the various plastic 3D printers and virtual reality, the Innovation Lab also has an SLA Resin Printer, which produces structures made of cured resin. Unlike materials made using the plastic printers, which contain gaps in between fibers, the resin printer creates dense, solid structures.

Those interested in further engagement with the printers and the world of 3D innovation are free to join the Innovation Club, which meets every other Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Innovation Lab – found in the Mudd side of the Library. 

The club itself “opens up the lab for students to come in and learn more about 3D innovation and creates a space to express their originality and uniqueness through what they can create,” said Timmer. 

Student Supervisor and Marshall senior Shannon Barba said that 3D mediums are a form of artistic expression.

“It gives an outlet for your imagination,” Barba said. “It allows you to have ideas and implement those ideas in the same way art students draw out concepts.”

Sometimes, ideas that club members come up with are used outside of the lab. Last spring, the Innovation Club competed in a bridge building competition against Jackson College. Meanwhile, those not interested in competitions have the opportunity to learn and gain new skills. 

Timmer recently taught club members how to use Tinkercad, a platform known for creating models for 3D printing and constructive solid geometry. 

Timmer also plans to teach members how to use Fusion 360, which they say is “a step up from Tinkercad.”

For hesitant students – or those who are not yet a part of the club – Barba said he wants everyone to know that the lab is a space for them to use.

 “I really believe that there’s something here for everyone, and something here that everyone can enjoy because everyone has an imagination,” Barba said. “I want to promote the space as a place where students can come, hang out and they can work.”

In the words of Noah, “Learn about the machines and you can learn about design through that process. It’s there for you to explore.”

Students interested in utilizing the lab’s equipment can schedule a visit or contact the technology department at insttech@albion.edu

Sarah Noah is the chair of the Media Board, which is the publisher of The Pleiad.

About Killian Altayeb 22 Articles
Killian Altayeb is from Novi, Michigan and is a second-year student at Albion College. They are a Biochemistry Major with a journalistic interest in all things public health. Contact Killian via email at NA12@albion.edu.

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