DREAMING IN 3D

Print your imagination at the library

Laura Jean Schneider ljschneider@ptleader.com
Posted 9/15/21

 

Book. DVD. Magazine. 3D printer.

Seems like one of these doesn’t belong. Yet Jefferson County Public Library in Port Hadlock has its very own 3D printer, and you’re invited …

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DREAMING IN 3D

Print your imagination at the library

Posted

 

Book. DVD. Magazine. 3D printer.

Seems like one of these doesn’t belong. Yet Jefferson County Public Library in Port Hadlock has its very own 3D printer, and you’re invited to take it for a spin.

All you need to get started is a name, contact information, and a design, says Daniel Heaton, library systems and tech services manager.

Hop onto a website called
thingiverse.com and find 3D models of just about anything. Or, you can use TinkerCad through the library’s website to create your own plan.

It’s simple-to-use software, Heaton said.

“Pretty much anyone can walk through it.”

As long as a design can fit within the current printer’s bed (9 inches wide, 6 inches deep, and 5½ inches high), Heaton’s crew can print pretty much anything.

The library prints using a substance called PLA, poly lactic acid, as the print material. It’s biodegradable and virtually odor free.

There are numerous color choices, and someone did a two-color project of a die once, using white for the dots on the sides. 

“It’s like a hot-glue gun,” Heaton said, demystifying the printing process.

The PLA filament is dragged through a hot tip that melts the material before it hardens into layers that keep building up until the object becomes three dimensional.

Amazingly enough, all of this magic is free to the public. Since 2018, when the library purchased their first 3D printer, hundreds of projects have printed. The first machine gave out after an impressive 1,800 hours of print time, and was replaced by a 2021 model in January. 

Last year, the printer was quiet while COVID closed the doors of the library, but it’s starting to see more use now. Heaton said they’ve even completed some projects that were started in 2020, and handed them off at long last to their creators.

“It’s amazing to see what people will come up with,” Heaton said.

There’s a lot of Star Wars characters and similar figurines that go through the 3D printer, along with practical objects like appliance knobs. A standout project was a 12-part print run to create a small, operable printing press.

Would-be object printers have a few parameters.

Heaton said projects that take longer than eight hours to print aren’t a fit for the library at this time. (For reference, it takes about 20 minutes to print a guitar pick.)

While Heaton says they’re thrilled to print a prototype, or iterations of a prototype, this isn’t a production printer. It’s about having fun.

Right now, the printer doesn’t have a waitlist, and folks of all ages are encouraged to bring their imaginations to https://jclibrary.info/use-the-library/3dprints/ to fill out a form online, or email a design to information@jclibrary.info.

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