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By Zachary Chen, Nov. 9, 2021

After being closed for nearly two years, the Cal Poly Pomona Art Department has reopened its doors to the Print Lab, providing students access to a large array of printing and scanning services.

Relocated to a bigger room upstairs in Building 13, the Print Lab offers a variety of services ranging from large format printing and laser cutting, to 3D printing, scanning and copying. The lab is currently open from Monday through Friday.

Following the reopening, Roahn Perez, a visual communication design student and lead tech at the Print Lab, explained the importance the lab holds for students.

“I definitely have a love for the Print Lab,” said Perez. “It’s super important because within our majors, we have professional critiques between classes with teachers and students. I think what the Print Lab offers is a casual conversation with other students that understand where you work and what you’re trying to do.”

The Print Lab provides students access to a large range of tools such as large format Epson printers, Canon plotters, laser cutters, silhouette cutters, 3D scanners and four 3D printers. The lab also features a Risograph printer, a specialized printing tool that uses a layering technique similar to silk screening. The Risograph produces screen prints at a faster and more affordable rate compared to traditional screening, and the printer is one of only a few located in L.A. County.

With the closing of the lab during the pandemic, Chair of the Art Department Anthony Acock detailed his feelings and the struggles of accessibility faced by students during the closure of the Print Lab.

“It’s got to be one of the most depressing moments of my life because I love that Print Lab so much. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments to have that lab built up,” said Acock. “A lot of this stuff is cost prohibitive, especially with 3D printers, 3D scanners and laser cutters. Those machinery are all required for the discipline and the students lost access to that.”

One of the main obstacles faced during the reopening process of the lab was the lack of returning workers. In the Print Lab, students were hired on a staggered basis based on year and experience, ensuring that each lab worker was able to pass down information over time. With students graduating over the years, Perez was the only worker left to assist with the reopening process.

“We lost a lot of staff and institutional knowledge,” said Kevin Moore, assistant professor in the Department of Art and director of the Print Lab. “We built it so we can have freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors working in the lab. We really built it like that on purpose so the institutional knowledge would not vanish every year someone graduated.”

Moore credited students like Perez for playing a significant role in the reopening of the lab and expressed the importance of student workers to the Print Lab.

“They’re vital, not only is it an education for the students, they are also a resource that is subsidized by the university system,” said Moore. “We can have students working and making money in here to support them through their education while the department does not have to expend as much for wages. Therefore, we can offer really low prices.”

With its bigger location and additional funding from grants, the Print Lab looks to add additional computer systems in the future, providing students access to systems capable of running the software necessary for their courses.

The Print Lab is currently open to all students Monday through Friday with varying hours. For more information and updated hours on the Print Lab, visit the Art Department’s Instagram page.

Featured image courtesy of Zachary Chen. 

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