Take Advantage of 3D Printing at Your Local Library

3d printer on a tableBack in May, we covered the advent of Maker Spaces in public libraries across the country. While libraries generally have an array of technology (think desktop computers, and maybe a few iPads), the ready accessibility of 3D printers has truly changed the game for library technology.

3D printers are no longer just special tools to be used in school engineering labs or university libraries. Rather, public librarians are stepping up to fight for grants and funds to provide this advanced technology to the entire community.

In Nebraska, there is no shortage of opportunities for anyone interested in creating or manufacturing their own product. Even in small towns and rural communities, the public libraries are willing and ready to teach citizens how to use the latest technology. In Kimball, Nebraska, a city with a population of less than 3,000, the Kimball Public Library has invested in a brand-new 3D printer.

Last week, the library even offered a Maker Space camp to teach students design work and help them print their designs in 3D. “I think it went pretty well,” said Jamie Carpenter, cataloguing and technical services librarian and camp director. “Overall, they did a great job designing and using TinkerCad.” Students crafted everything from lampshades to birds and printed the projects themselves.

In Seward, Nebraska, the Seward Memorial Library was recently awarded two Cube 3D printers from 3D Systems in conjunction with the MakerLab Club, a community of U.S. libraries and museums dedicated to providing the next generation with digital literacy. And this fall, with Omaha’s first digital library planned to open at 72nd and Dodge, Nebraska’s largest metropolis will have easy access to 3D printing.

So, with all of these resources, how do you begin to use them? Let’s say you don’t know a thing about 3D printing, but you have the desire to craft something. First, yay for you! Second, look at your local library for any training events regarding their printer, or check out Maker Space camps like the one at the Kimball Public Library.

The cool thing about 3D printing is that you don’t need to be an aerospace engineer or biomechanical technician to design something. If you know what you want to make, you’re already in a good place to begin.

Cookiecaster.com: If you want to start out with the basics, this site couldn’t be easier. Make your next batch of cookies awesome by designing your own custom cookie cutter, just by drawing it! Pick the height and thickness you’d like, and then save the file. It’s completely free, and you can then upload your creation to the printer at your public library!

TinkerCad: This is another free, easy-to-use program, and it helps you design something more complex than a cookie cutter. Use existing shapes to move, rotate, and adjust to create detailed models!

Sketchup: Probably the most advanced software of the three, Sketchup requires a download. It will also create detailed 3D models that you can upload to your local library’s printer. Start with lines and shapes, then push and pull them until you’re happy with your creation!

Whichever program you use, you’ll enjoy creating something of your own. On a larger scale, it’s what manufacturers do every single day. The thrill of making something entirely your own never gets old, and we urge you to give it a try!

photo credit: via photopin (license)