By John Palenchar
In the back corner of the St. Petersburg College Tarpon Springs Campus Library, by the math tutoring area, is a room full of wonders. The STEAM Works Room is one of the coolest places on the Tarpon Springs Campus. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Like all the amenities supplied by the library, it is totally free for students to use. The hours are posted on the door to the room, along with a catalog of some of the items that are in the STEAM Works Room.
So, what can visitors find inside the STEAM Works Room? Inside this room, one can find an amazing amount of technology and art supplies. A few of the things that one can use are a FlashForge 3D printer, a Carvey CNC machine, and a myriad of Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, and stop-motion videography equipment.
At this amazing place, one can get lost for hours. One can play with something known as the Makey Makey. It allows the user to make inputs for a computer, such as a keyboard or a mouse, out of everyday objects.
The STEAM Works Room also has a robotics kit. The LEGO Mindstorms EV3 allows the creator to build their own custom robots, program them to do challenges, and have fun exercising mental creativity.
3D printers are amazing tools. Visitors can learn to use 3D printers in the STEAM Works Room. They can get their feet wet learning 3D printing with the STEAM Works Room’s 3D printing pen, which allows the user to make 3D sculptures in just the same way one would use a regular pen.
All in all, the STEAM Works Room is an amazing place that doesn’t get enough attention. The STEAM Works Room can also be used for club meetings and group, class or club projects. So, whoever is in the mood to do something creative or work with awesome technology should totally check it out!
A closer look at how 3D printers work
The STEAM Works room has a 3D printer. This 3D printer is made by FlashForge. All 3D printers are useful pieces of equipment to have. They can do amazing things. The 3D printer in the STEAM Works Room prints in a 4in x 4in x 12in area.
Operating a 3D printer is like operating any regular printer, except that instead of printing documents one prints out three-dimensional objects that one created or found on the internet. Using 3D modeling software like SketchUp, ZBrush, and AutoCAD 360, one can make 3D objects to print.
Once the user has created or found what he or she wants to print out, one must export it as a .obj file or as a .stl file. The file types .obj and .stl are the extensions that 3D modeling software exports to the 3D printer to print.
Depending on what 3D printer one is using, the software that one uses to review prints and export them to the printer can change. The FlashForge 3D printer that is in the STEAM Works Room uses the included FlashForge printing software.
Almost all 3D printers are not quick. Depending on the print size, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours to complete a print.