Our 3D printer (we named it Maria) made its public debut last weekend at the Public Library’s Maker Day and now we’re showing it off on our first floor display through the end of the term! Stop by to watch Maria make stuff, see some of our printed examples, and send us stuff you want to make.
Sounds great, but … what is 3D Printing?
3D printing is becoming an increasingly popular technology that allows people to manufacture objects in a variety of materials. The model of printer we have, a MakerBot Replicator, prints in two varieties of plastic: ABS, a thermoplastic (also the stuff that makes up Lego bricks), and PLA, a starch-based bioplastic. The plastic filament feeds into an extruder, heats, and deposits onto a build platform in layers in whatever shape the printer is instructed to build. So far, we’ve made things like anatomical models, gears, a zoetrope, part of a model of Chattanooga, and more. PBS Off Book provides an awesome and succinct intro to the tech and its potential.
Cool, I want to print something RIGHT NOW. How do I do that?
While Maria is on display, we will need stuff to make and we hope that you’ll help us out. All we need is a .stl file that fits the size limits of the MakerBot Replicator (see below). Send us things that you find online (we love looking at Thingiverse) or design your own objects. Some free design software options are Tinkercad (great for beginners) and Blender (steeper learning curve; let us know if you’re good at this!). Once you have a .stl file ready to go, contact librarians Jason Griffey and Bo Baker. We’ll get the file from you, add it to the print queue, and let you know when it’s ready! Slight disclaimer: Machines like this one can be finicky, and we’re new to this too, so thanks in advance for your patience and support — now let’s build some stuff!