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Building a Bridge with 3D Printing

June 22, 2015

by Devan Himstedt

The Herron School of Art and Design will open IUPUI’s first-ever 3D printing lab this fall.IMG_1728 crop

But before the grand opening, this summer a group of about 20 students from the Herron School of Art and Design and the School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC) got a sneak peak in a 3D printing course.

The two schools are collaborating in what might seem to others a competitive opportunity – the goal to create a more well-rounded education for all IUPUI students.

With the promise of access to the 3D printing lab, the School of Informatics and Computing program in turn recruited Herron students to enroll in a 3D modeling class that took place this summer. Students learned the 3D software and then had a chance to print the objects they’ve created, according to Zeb Wood, the professor of the class and a lecturer in the Media Arts and Science program at SoIC. Though the lab is not yet officially open, the class will be able to use the lab to fine-tune their skills by the fall semester of 2015.

With the addition of the $1.3 million 3D printing facility, called the “Think It Make It Lab” (TIMI Lab), many feel that the relationship between the two schools will only grow stronger, says Julie Reagan, academic advisor for the School of Informatics and Computing. Within the last year, a Studio Art and Technology minor was developed and approved. The minor incorporates classes from both Herron and Informatics and Computing, and is available to students from either school. Reagan hopes that this, along with the TIMI lab, will encourage students to broaden their education by taking advantage of what each school has to offer, thereby strengthening their skill sets, and better preparing them for their future career.

IMG_1022The TIMI Lab will include state of the art 3D printers, precision laser cutters, and a 3D scanner, according to Herron. Instead of keeping the lab open exclusively for Herron students, there have been several partnerships created to let students of many different disciplines have access to this resource. According to Herron, their partnership with Informatics and Computing is one of many future collaborations.

Kevin Jethrow, a student in the class, says that the best thing about the lab is that you can “virtually make anything.” As a student in the Media Arts and Science program, with a special interest in environment design for video games and digitized worlds, the ability to physically create what he’s designing will be a huge step forward. Since taking the 3D class with Herron students, Jethrow is considering taking Illustration classes through Herron and maybe even pursuing the Studio Art and Technology Minor to help round out his figurine and set design skills.

In addition to Jethrow’s printed landscapes and characters, students’ project plans in the 3D class included printed fashion pieces, sculptures, and shadow art. “Of the two projects in the class, one was a commercially focused product suitable for marketing and the other project was completely open-ended,” says Professor Wood.

During the class, students helped each other and bounced ideas back and forth, which is an exciting thing to witness as a professor. Wood is looking forward to what this collaboration between schools might bring. He says that it’s neat to see the Media Arts and Science students help the Herron students with the software and technical issues while the Herron students offer conceptual design ideas to their peers. The mix of different skill sets is causing students to challenge each other to think about design in new ways.

“When two schools collaborate, awesome things can happen,” Reagan says.

For more information:
Zeb Wood:, 317-278-4140
Kevin Jethrow:,, 317-833-0027
Julie Reagan:, 317-274-1265

Media Contact

Joanne Lovrinic