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The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library

3D Printing: A Primer

Posted about 1 year ago by Kathryn M

Posted in Make U and Science, Medicine, & Technology | Tagged with 3-D Printing and creativity

Did you know the Toledo Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL) offers 3D printing services? While 3D printing may be relatively new to TLCPL, it has actually been around for decades. In simplest terms, our printers use STL formatted computer files. The extruder on the printer melts the filament at a very high temperature –215 °C and lays out the object described by the STL file layer by layer. Objects are limited by our build plate size.

We recommend two different sources for acquiring an STL file to print. To find an object that someone has already designed, visit Thingiverse.com. There are thousands of different objects. Be sure to select STL formatted files for 3d printing, as Thingiverse also contains files for laser cutting.

To design an object from scratch, or to make customizations Tinkercad.com is a great place to start. Tinkercad is a web-based computer automated design (CAD) software that gives you the building blocks needed to create a 3d object. Within Tinkercad, there are several helpful tutorials to familiarize yourself with the platform.

Once you have decided on an object to print, bring your file on a flash drive to Oregon or West Toledo Branch. Printing costs 10 cents per gram, and depending on the object’s size, can take some time. You will leave your file and contact information with a librarian. Your job may be in line behind other jobs, and since we do not print overnight, depending on who is ahead of you it may be a few days before your job is complete. Payment for the item is due at pick up.

Currently, Oregon and West Toledo offer printing on a Makerbot, so printing size is limited by the build plate size roughly 8 in. x 10 in x 6 in. tall. Prints are completed in PLA filament, which comes in most standard colors, as well as clear. West Toledo is also testing a Lulzbot printer, which can print in ABS filament.

For those who appreciate a more hands-on approach to learning be sure to check out the TLCPL calendar of events. This summer, classes were offered at Sanger, Waterville and Oregon Branches where kids and teens made customized keychains and Minecraft swords. This fall, several branches, including Oregon, Sylvania, and West Toledo, will be offering 3D design and printing classes for both teens and adults.

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