At This UT-Austin Library, Students Check Out 3-D Printers Instead Of Books

Jan 31, 2018

On the second floor of UT-Austin’s Fine Arts Building, there is a library like no other, with sounds of creativity coming from students using 3-D printers, laser cutters, audio recorders and sewing machines.

This noisy and artistic place is called The Foundry. It’s UT-Austin’s first makerspace library that any student can use, regardless of major.

Jacob Lehmann, an astronomy senior, uses the 3-D printers and laser cutters for school work.

“I think the coolest thing I have done is the handle for a sword,” he says. Lehmann used a laser cutter to make it “look like the bones of a spine.”

The Foundry’s mission is to not only meet the students’ technological needs for computers with the Adobe suite, VR systems and audio recording studios, but also to boost creativity in and out of the classroom.

Lehmann used computer software to make designs based on his favorite ’90s cartoons and then input the design code into an embroidery machine, which sewed the pattern onto an apron.

“I put a bunch of embroidered logos of my favorite ’90s cartoons, so I’ve got 'Courage the Cowardly Dog,' 'Samurai Jack' and 'Johnny Bravo,'” he says.

Boris Brodsky is the arts and creative technology at The Foundry.
Credit Austin Price for KUT

Boris Brodsky, the arts and creative technology director of The Foundry, says libraries are evolving from places to gather information to outlets where students can be imaginative and innovative.

“As we are in the 21st century, all these types of technologies are becoming more and more necessary for people to use,” he says, “and the purpose of a library is to help people create knowledge.”

According to Brodsky, The Foundry has generated enormous excitement and has seen an increase in student demand within its first year.

“It is really inspiring, when someone comes in who has never used [the 3-D printer or other machines] and then you start seeing them, printing an object, then holding it in their hands afterward, realizing that they made it," he says.