DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Visitors to the University of North Texas' Willis Library can now create three dimensional objects from computer aided design software -- everything from figurines and textured plastic clothing material to board game pieces --when they visit The Factory on the library's first floor.
The Factory is the library's first makerspace -- a place for library patrons to have access to equipment and software that promotes innovative learning and cooperative and creative use of technology. Makerspaces began appearing in public and academic libraries after the founding of MakerBot Industries in January 2009, when MakerBot became the first 3D printer to be sold at an affordable price.
"Libraries are shared places for learning and collaboration, and makerspaces are the newest kind of facility that libraries can provide for these purposes," said Martin Halbert, dean of the UNT Libraries. "The Factory will give members of the UNT community access to the latest tools for producing 3D artifacts and electronic applications for new styles of self-directed experimentation and research."
The Factory will offer 3D printing with MakerBot Replicator and a smaller version, MakerBot Mini, for $2.50 per hour, and 3D scanning with MakerBot Digitizer at no charge.
In addition, The Factory has eight printers for standard printing needs and a large format printer; a Raspberry Pi, a computer no larger than a credit card that plugs into a television and keyboard and can be used for spreadsheets, word processing, gaming and playing high-definition video; Arduino, a tool used to create computers that take input from a variety of switches or sensors and control lights, motors and other physical outputs; cameras and photographic equipment; and Google Glass, an optical device that can be used to record videos and photographs from a first person perspective and can do other tasks, hands free. Many of the equipment will be available for checkout via valid UNT identification or cards issued by the Willis Library.
The Factory will be open Sundays through Thursdays from 1-6 p.m. and 7-11 p.m. John Luetkemeyer, the UNT Libraries' network manager, and Halbert will introduce the equipment available in the space during a free kickoff event from 2-5 p.m. Oct. 27 (Monday) in the Willis Library Forum, Room 140.
Luetkemeyer said the idea of The Factory is to support the creativity activity of students from many different academic areas and bring them together for collaboration.
"If we can get computer science students working with emergency management students to come up with new ways to handle traffic flow during disasters, engineering students and music studies working together on new instruments or any other number of collaborative efforts between colleges, then we've accomplished one of our goals," he said. "The Willis Library is a central spot academically, socially and physically on campus, so we really want The Factory to embody this role for everyone we can."
For more information, contact Luetkemeyer at 940-565-3784.