Digital Microscopy Facility receives new 3D printer
Mount Allison’s Digital Microscopy Facility just received a key piece of equipment — a 3D printer — which will assist students and faculty across all disciplines with their projects and research. The printer provides a number of important functions, including helping students understand the three-dimensional information contained in two-dimensional microscopic images.
“The printer produces a macroscopic version of a microscopic object that people can hold in their hands,” says Jim Ehrman, a biology research associate. “Sometimes students have a hard time interpreting the 3D information in the scanning electron microscope and optically sectioned light microscope images, and being able to see and manipulate an object in the real world makes it easier to understand the specimen.”
The printer is also helpful in building tools and other objects that are useful in the lab, especially those that are too expensive to buy commercially or simply aren’t available for customized applications. For example, Ehrman is in the process of printing a small lab jack from a free online application, which can be printed to any desired size, all at once, even though it contains many moving parts. The jack can be used for such lab tasks as positioning specimens during preparation or supporting a camera.
The 3D printer was purchased through a recent Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) grant, which also provided the lab with a new variable pressure scanning electron microscope earlier this year. The printer is located in the Digital Microscopy Facility in the basement of Centennial Hall and is available to students and faculty from all disciplines by contacting Jim Ehrman at firstname.lastname@example.org.