DIY on steroids

3-D printing enables UB students and researchers to create amazing things

By David J. Hill | Photographs by Douglas Levere

“There’s a huge difference between seeing a model physically versus on the screen.”
Michael Silver, assistant professor, School of Architecture and Planning

Imagine performing an operation tailored to a patient’s unique medical characteristics—before stepping into the operating room. Or solving an engineering challenge by building exactly the object you need. These are just a couple of the ways in which several schools and departments at UB are using 3-D printing.

Employing computer software, spools of plastic (in lieu of ink cartridges) and a device resembling a mini fridge or microwave, students and researchers can create just about anything imaginable—in intricate detail—in a matter of hours.

The technology itself isn’t all that new. As Lindsay Romano (MArch ’06, BS ’03), who manages the digital workshop in the School of Architecture and Planning, explains, “It’s not that 3-D printing is so cool; it’s been around for 20 years. It’s what you can make with it. It allows our students to create things they can’t make by hand, just using their imagination.”

Students and faculty in architecture, engineering, media study, and medicine and biomedical sciences, among other departments, are using their imaginations to make some remarkable objects. In this expanded edition of Objectology, we take a closer look at some of their creations.