Only time will tell if 3D printing is really the next industrial revolution; all indications are that it is indeed a transformative technology. UMass Amherst Libraries, with the support of the Friends of the Libraries, are providing our students and faculty with the opportunity to experiment and engage with this new technology through the creation of the MakerBot Innovation Center. The first such center in New England and the first located in a university library, the Innovation Center provides access to over 50 3D printers, 3D scanners, and an innovative 3D printing software platform that links the printers together, providing remote access, print queuing and mass production of 3D prints, and is designed to streamline productivity and staffing.
Why the Libraries? Because UMass Amherst Libraries, through services like the Learning Commons and the Digital Media Lab, provide an environment in which students and faculty feel free to explore new forms of scholarship while being secure in the history and tradition of our print collections and digital information resources. The Libraries provide a neutral territory where all disciplines are welcomed and encouraged to explore and interact with others to create new, interdisciplinary discoveries.
Without support from our Friends, the Innovation Center would not be possible. Your contributions to the Innovation Fund, the 21st Century Technology Fund, the Digital Media Lab, and our Library Facilities Fund have allowed UMass Libraries to move to a level of excellence never possible if we had to depend only on campus funding. In a similar manner, your contributions to a variety of collection and service endowments provide on-going support that builds excellence and quality at a level never before known at UMass Amherst.
It’s a broad spectrum of services that the UMass Amherst Libraries staff provide—from maintaining excellent print collections to offering cutting-edge 3D printing services—because that is what today’s students and faculty desire and deserve. With your continuing support, we will be able to live up to their expectations.