3D Printing: A Primer

Posted on September 15, 2016

by Kathryn M

Did you know the Toledo Lucas County Public Library offers 3D printing services? While 3D printing may be relatively new to our library system, 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 King Road, 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.

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. Main Library and King Road are testing the Lulzbot 6 3D Printer.

We have had and continue to offer classes for kids, teens, and adults focusing on design and hands-on projects. Check out our EVENTS or MAKE U pages for up-to-date information on classes and services.