Long before anybody coined the word “makerspace,” Stanford’s Product Realization Lab was providing students with the facilities to build anything from robotic limbs to exotic musical instruments and interactive art.
But now, with the COVID-19 pandemic keeping most students off campus, the university has launched a pilot program to ship students a key piece of equipment for building and inventing at home.
Every student enrolled in one of 14 courses that require making prototypes, from classes in mechanical engineering to those in sculpture and music, will receive a 3D printer to use at home. Some 450 students will take part, and they can keep the printers after the course is over.
This would have been unthinkable a few years ago. But prices for professional-quality 3D printers have plunged so much that it’s now possible to consider. Each of the new printers, along with the…