Most of us have a printer at home or at work that prints paper, but the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library at the University of Nevada now has printers that print three dimensional objects.

"To be able to take something that's a theoretical model in their head and turn it into something tangible they can roll over in their hands and make new sense out of is transformative," said Tod Colegrove, director of the DelaMare Science and Engineering Library.

Colegrove said you can build something as simple as a box or as complex as a protein chain from a theoretical model.

In the past, these printers were available for only a select few, but now they are in the classroom for students.

The process begins by taking a three dimensional file and uploading it onto a computer. Then using specialized software, you can move and draw with the printer whatever object you want.

When your drawing is complete, you print. It takes about 22 minutes of printing from the ground up while the printer builds layer upon layer.

The finished product is an abs, three dimensional, plastic piece of whatever you drew on the computer screen.

As you might imagine, these machines are pretty expensive, but Colegrove said they are paid for with an internal grant.

The DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library will offer the service along with scanning to all students. The public can use the service as well.

Written by Chris Ciarlo