New 3D printer lab fuels creativity

UNG is home to Georgia’s first MakerBot Innovation Center, a specialized 3D printer lab that encourages students to conceptualize, create and produce new projects and products.Earlier this year, UNG partnered with MakerBot, a global leader in desktop 3D printing, to open the learning and creation lab on the Dahlonega Campus, the 15th of its kind in the country. The 32 pieces of equipment and technology are open to all majors and departments across the university.

“This lab will advance UNG’s mission to foster creative ideas and apply innovative thinking, and it will employ the latest in digital technology to help the university’s students and the region’s business and entrepreneurial community develop successful ventures from anywhere in the world,” said Dr. Pamela Sachant, head of the Department of Visual Arts. “Students and faculty from across multiple disciplines and fields of study will be able to utilize the equipment in this lab, bringing to life in a tangible way business projects, visual art pieces, science experiments, and even physics assignments.”

House printed with MakerBot

UNG faculty members Drs. Jon Mehlferber, Department of Visual Arts, and Terrie Millard, Department of Physical Therapy, previously collaborated on a grant proposal that used 3D printing to create low-cost assistive devices to aid disabled children in riding a bike.

Mehlferber and Millard called on students in visual arts, biology and physics to handle the design and construction of the devices, while physical therapy students offered advice and guidance on the types of objects to be produced.


The success of this project led to further grants and the professors were joined by other faculty, staff and students to develop more devices, including a special “saddle” (now patent pending), that makes it possible for disabled children to ride horses with minimal assistance.

Student at computer using 3D software

“3D printing is an important medium for students to test their ideas and the MakerBot Innovation Center allows them to experiment more and feel more confident in taking risks. Over the past four months, students have printed more than 116 objects in the lab, quickly transforming UNG into a technologically advanced learning hub,” Mehlferber said.

MakerBot reports that many leading universities around the world continue to implement MakerBot Innovation Centers to elevate access, entrepreneurship and multi-disciplinary collaboration on campus. “Designed to elevate learning and promote cross-departmental collaboration, the MakerBot Innovation Center helps give students access to real-world design and development,” said Lauren Goglick, general manager North America at MakerBot. “By bringing in a MakerBot Innovation Center and providing students access to 3D printing at an early stage, universities like UNG create an atmosphere of creativity and collaboration that spurs innovation and invention like never before.”

Makerbot in Visual Arts class.
Dr. Joh Mehlferber (left) assists students in the new Makerbot Innovation Center at UNG.