The future of 3D printing at King's


NEW YORK, New York - 3D printing technology has the capability to produce tools, toys, cars and even food. From massive industrial printers, to small-scale desktop units, 3D printing is continuing to make a space for itself in the lives of everyday consumers and professionals alike. Ever since King's became the first college in America to accept Bitcoin this past summer, the school has been bolstering its reputation for embracing leading technology. A 3D printed hat. Photo by Michael Martinez.

As the world of technology progresses, will King’s follow suit? It may, with the help of companies like BetaVersity.

BetaVersity, an education technology company, travels to universities across the nation with shipping containers called BetaBoxes, filled with 3D printers, laser cutters, 3D scanners and more. They have worked with schools like Duke University, Texas A&M, Howard University and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in an effort to “make learning-by-doing accessible to every student,” the company's website states.

BetaVersity’s Creative Director, Nicholas Sailer, told the Tribune what it is like to expose people to modern technology who have never had the opportunity to do so before. Whether they are college students, high school students or conference goers, Sailer said that usually everyone has the same reaction: “Wow, that’s awesome.”

A failed attempt to create a 3D printed architectural model. Photo by Michael Martinez.

During a four-day event at Duke University, a student stumbled upon BetaBox. The student, who had worked at a carwash over the summer, came up with an idea for an improved vacuum hose nozzle that he wanted to create. The team at BetaVersity was able to help him realize his idea through sketches, experiments and finally a 3D model his project. Sailer recalls that “within a couple of hours, he went from having just this idea to having the full prototype that he was able to test out.”

The example Sailer gave is just one of many demonstrating the possibilities that 3D printing and other advanced technology have the power to unlock.

Is there room for a 3D printer on the shelves of The King's College media lab? Media Services Specialist and King's student, Abby Caddick ('16) seems to think so. In their fifth floor space, the media lab has cameras, lighting equipment and the entire Adobe Creative Suite, but “the problem,” Caddick said, “is that not everybody knows that we have it.”

Many students do not take advantage of this equipment, simply because they do not know what is available to them. The lab offers tutorials and workshops on topics like photography and editing, but Caddick speculates that if they “had more cutting-edge technology...[it] would be a bigger draw.”

“King’s students are interested in creating new and inventive things,” Caddick explained, and a 3D printer would definitely encourage innovation. Future students could have the chance to create art in 21st century ways never before explored at the college, and the machines could offer MCA students ways to stay up to date in the world of art and culture.

Although the closest school to a liberal arts college that BetaVersity has worked with is University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Sailer expressed his interest in working with a liberal arts school like King’s in the future. As Sailer puts it, “hands-on learning isn’t limited to a certain subject.”