Dublin University - The Art of 3D Printer Makerspace Management

Learn how Dublin University is using 3DPrinterOS to manage and scale up their 3D printer makerspaces.

Dublin City University and 3DPrinterOS

In the heart of the bustling capital of the emerald isle, you’ll find Dublin City University – a relatively young institution, having achieved university status in 1989. DCU has already achieved a reputation globally for its commitment to excellence in research, teaching, innovation, and entrepreneurship. 

The university enrolls over 17,000 students across its five faculties – Humanities and Social Sciences, Science and Health, Engineering and Computing, DCU Business School, and the DCU Institute of Education.

DCU is renowned for its commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship and is distinguished for its focus on translating knowledge into societal and economic benefit. The university has a strong track record of nurturing students not only with knowledge but also with the capability to apply that knowledge innovatively. This shows in their impressive employment statistics: they are ranked #1 in Ireland, and #23 globally.

Well-regarded for its excellent facilities and support services, Dublin City University offers a modern campus equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including high-tech laboratories, innovation centers, computer suites, and sports and recreational facilities, which facilitate a well-rounded student experience.

DCU provides a practical, hands-on approach to learning, with high-tech workshops and labs, and a makerspace that allows for creative, collaborative work. 

This includes access to a robust 3D printing infrastructure for design and prototyping. With 18 Prusa Mini, 2 Ultimakers, and a Prusa Mk4, these 3D printers in the makerspace contribute to a considerable part of the practical learning for the students. This fleet of 3D printers has already clocked a staggering 8000 hours of 3D printing time, indicative of the vital role this technology plays in the university's educational approach. 

Further underlining the intensity of 3D printing activity, in the most recent semester alone the 3DPrinterOS system recorded 230 users completing 4800 hours of printing. Using over 50 kilograms of material, a total of 2353 prints were made.

These impressive figures illuminate the extensive use of 3D printing across multiple disciplines and projects at DCU. This activity volume not only exemplifies the prevalence of 3D printing in their academic practices but also their commitment to providing students with the resources necessary to innovate and develop practical skills.

Assignments and Projects

In the School of Mechanical Engineering at Dublin City University, students engage in hands-on learning through innovative projects that join engineering theory with the modern technology of 3D printing.

One notable assignment is the boat project, where students apply fluid mechanics principles to design, 3D print, and test a miniature boat. Similarly, in the manufacturing processes project, they design a toolmaker's clamp, modify it for 3D printing, and evaluate the success of the print, gaining valuable insights into the 3D printing process.


The Vertical Axis Wind Turbine project requires students to design, print, and test a lab-scale wind turbine, applying their theoretical knowledge in a practical setting. Meanwhile, the Firefighter Project sees third-year students designing a water-carrying device, utilizing 3D printing for intricate components and emphasizing both material conservation and speed.
One notable assignment is the boat project, where students apply fluid mechanics principles to design, 3D print, and test a miniature boat. Similarly, in the manufacturing processes project, they design a toolmaker's clamp, modify it for 3D printing, and evaluate the success of the print, gaining valuable insights into the 3D printing process.

In the Sustainable Processes Project, students create a 3D printed water pump, powered by a wind turbine with seamless transition to a backup battery – epitomizing the integration of sustainable energy and modern manufacturing technology.

These projects encapsulate the spirit of Dublin City University, fostering an environment where students apply their engineering training beyond theory and gain valuable skills in designing specifically for 3D printing. There are also undergraduate and post graduate students doing individual final year projects and research work, who have access to the makerspace and use 3D printing extensively.

Liam Domican

DCU's makerspace Lead, Dublin University

DCU's makerspace is under the competent stewardship of Liam Domican. Liam is an experienced professional who has seen the evolution of manufacturing and prototyping from traditional tool making to the modern marvels of 3D printing. Having served an apprenticeship in tool making before working for an American company in R&D, Liam brings a wealth of practical knowledge to his role at Dublin City University.

Running the makerspace: Liam Domican

At DCU, one of Liam's responsibilities includes overseeing the operation of the extensive 3D printers in the makerspace. He finds 3D printing to be an exciting addition to the engineering educational toolkit, especially for design-oriented disciplines where students can bring their concepts to life.

Liam speaks highly of 3DPrinterOS, which manages the university's 3D printing operations. He appreciates the platform's ability to manage queues effectively, eliminating confusion and providing each student with fair access to the resources. This streamlined operation allows students to focus on the creative and innovative aspects of their work rather than get caught up in logistical hurdles.

3DPrinterOS also assists Liam and his team in collecting insightful data about the usage and performance of their printers. This information is crucial for identifying bottlenecks, improving processes, and demonstrating the value and impact of their 3D printing resources.

As we look into the future, the partnership between Dublin City University and 3DPrinterOS promises to continue fostering creativity, innovation, and practical learning. It stands as a testament to the powerful synergy between education and technology, driving the engineers and innovators of tomorrow.

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