3D PRINTING AT CRANSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
The Cranston Public Library currently maintains a Makerbot Replicator 2X 3D printer and a Cube 2nd Generation 3D Printer for use by the public in the library's C-Lab. Patrons may either attend the C-Lab's open technology hours to use the printers or submit files to be printed and then picked up at a later time.
Before printing, we require that you read and sign our 3D printer policy agreement before using the printer to make an object.
What is 3D Printing?
3D printing is the process of making a three dimensional object from a digital file. The object is created by laying down successive layers of plastic material on top of each other until the print is created.
You begin by creating a virtual design on a computer or using a 3D scanner to replicate an existing object. Software is then used to slice the designed object into hundred of horizontal layers. The design is sent to the 3D printer where hot plastic is passed through a super-heated nozzle and laid down layer by layer via a robotic arm. The plastic cools off within a few seconds, so the finished object can be used right away.
How do I create or find a design?
There are 3 methods for obtaining 3D designs for printing:
- Download: many designs can be found online, copyright-free, for personal use. A good website to check out is www.thingiverse.com.
- Scan: You can take an object that already exists and scan or digitize it to obtain the right dimensions for a 3D replica. (We do not currently own a digitizer here at the library.) There are also apps that enable you to take multiple photographs of an object to make a 3D file, such as 123D Catch.
- Make your own: Many people use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create their own objects for printing. Some commercial software is very sophisticated, but free online software such as Tinkercad can get you started on the concepts of 3D design.
How long does it take to print a design?
Longer than you might think. If an object has many layers or a complicated structure, it can take hours to print. Simpler, flatter designs can be finished in as little as 5 minutes.
|Guitar picks = 5 minutes||Shark = 15 minutes||Bookmark holder = 2.5 hours|
How do I use the library's 3D printers?
If you are just starting out with 3D printing, it is best to attend one of our C-Lab's open Tech Times to learn more about 3D printing, designing, or downloading files.
Open Tech Time Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays from 2:30pm - 4:30pm
If you can't make one of our open Tech Times, you can make a one-on-one appointment with one of our staff. You can sign up for an appointment by visiting cranstonlibrary.setmore.com, send an email to email@example.com or call the library at 401-943-9080 ext. 4 to make an appointment.
What if I just need my design printed and don’t have time for training?
If you have a design ready and just need it printed, you can submit your design .stl file to be printed. Before printing, you must first read and sign our 3D Printing Policy. Children under the age of 14 must have their parent or guardian sign the policy in person at the Reference Desk. You may email your design .stl file and signed policy to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop it off on a USB flash drive. We will then email you with an estimated cost for printing which you must agree to before printing commences.
What if I need help with designing or troubleshooting my design?
Library staff are available for printing assistance only. If you require additional assistance with designing or troubleshooting, please drop-in at one of our open tech times or make a one-on-one appointment.
We charge 10 cents per gram of plastic. Before printing, the library will provide an estimated completed cost which you must agree to before printing commences.
How long will it take for me to get my design printed? What if I have a deadline?
Usually the process of 3D printing requires troubleshooting, whether that be from errors with the design or repair of the printer, which is why the library cannot guarantee that a design will be printed by a certain date. We will do our very best to have the design printed in a timely manner.
How large can my design be?
Files can be no larger than 25 MB and must be submitted as .stl files. We cannot print a file over 5 hours long. In regard to proportions, the design must be able to fit on the 3D printer’s platform, so it must be under 9 inches high and 5 inches wide for our Makerbot printer.
3D printing does not do well with “overhangs.” Each layer of a 3D model needs a base layer below it, so the machine will have a hard time printing something that hangs out into space, like the brim of a cowboy hat. We can add breakaway supports to any overhangs that can be snapped off at the end, but the edges might not be as smooth.