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3D printing comes to Northeastern

Janos Stone

Last spring, Northeastern and students, faculty, and visiting scholar Janos Stone collaborated on a unique 3D printing project that turns alpha numeric text or data into unique, 3D printed sculptures. The concept, which was written about in more detail in the Engineering.com article “Text Turned to Sculpture with 3D Printing,” aims to explore how various kinds of information can be stored and shared as “physical 3D printed objects.”

Per the Engineering.com article, Stone began collaborating with a group of math PhD students, and through their joint work, an algorithm that sorted alphanumeric text information into corresponding shapes was born. Renamed ANA (Alpha Numeric Avatars), Stone and his team decided to show their work to the public through “an interactive website driven by [their] algorithmic engine that transforms typed alphanumeric text into 3D printable objects.”

Beyond Stone’s foray into 3D printed data storage, Northeastern is aiming to bring 3D printing to the masses, adding 3D printing services to Snell Library in the fall of 2013 in an effort to expand its services for students. As covered by the Boston Globe in their article, “Northeastern’s 3-D printing lab is for all to use,” Northeastern’s 3D new printing lab will give all students access to this trendy manufacturing technology, which has formerly been tucked away in engineering and design labs.

“This is a technology that’s moving out there,” said Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern.

The ongoing evolution of 3-D printers — they are becoming smaller, cheaper, and easier to use — has prompted universities, high schools, and local governments to add these devices as their libraries push into the digital age.

The modern library, Director said, is “not just a place where you store books, and information doesn’t just come in 2-D physical forms. Information comes in all sorts of forms. Now, it’s in 3-D.”

To read more about 3D printing at Northeastern and Janos Stone’s unique approach to 3D printed information, read the full articles at the Boston Globe and Engineering.com.