Wednesday, May 4, 2016

3D Printing at MCPL

Did you see the episode of The Big Bang Theory when Howard created a 3D printed action figure of himself? Or how about the episodes in Grey's Anatomy where Dr. Yang and Dr. Grey 3D print veins, human hearts, and livers? 3D printing is all around us. It's worked its way into popular culture, medical sciences, fashion, music, the arts, and yes, libraries.

Orange 3D Robots
We come in peace.
3D printing is a process of laying down successive layers of materials to build an object. You can use lots of different materials for 3D printing, but here at MCPL, we use PLA (polylactic acid). PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic made from renewable materials. MCPL offers Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud in the Digital Media Labs at Long Branch and Silver Spring to design your 3D objects. You can also use websites like Tinkercad or download free software programs like SketchUp or Blender. If you're just starting out with 3D design, Tinkercad offers some great tutorials on 3D design.

If you're not quite as into the design aspect, there's always Thingiverse! Thingiverse is a website where users can upload their own designs for others to use as they wish.

When our team at Silver Spring was learning how to 3D print, we used several designs from Thingiverse to test out our abilities and troubleshooting skills. Here are a few of the designs our staff
have printed:

3D Pencil Holder
Double helix pencil holder.
Double Helix Pencil Holder
AA Size Battery Storage Box
Spiral Chess Set
Round Clock

If you decide you'd like to get something printed at one of our libraries, all you have to do is go to our 3D Printing page on the MCPL website. There you'll find our 3D Printing User Agreement and FAQ, as well as the submission form you'll use to send us your design file in .stl or .obj format. Once you submit your file, your library account will be charged $1.00. The 3D Printing Team at your selected branch (Silver Spring or Long Branch) will review your request, then email you the cost of the item and ask for your approval to go ahead and print. Once the item is printed, you'll get another email that tells you your item is available to pick up. All charges (both the submission fee and the cost of the print itself) must be paid upon pickup.
3D print gone wrong
Nailed it!

If you're interested in learning more, our Silver Spring branch is offering a series of classes on 3D Printing and Design taught by Steve Morris, the owner of the local makerspace Catylator.

Getting Ready for 3D Printing – May 7th @ 11am
3D Printing Workshop – May 21st @ 11am

3D printing is truly a labor of love. For each success, expect 5 failures… but don’t worry, the failures are fun, too!

Rachel R.

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