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3D Printing

Durham County Library is excited to offer 3D printing to our patrons. Please review the following frequently asked questions prior to submitting your print job.

MakerBot

The MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer

Why is the library offering 3D printing?
The library has always been a collective resource for our community by offering different types of services and technologies. From the days of typewriters to the first laser printers, public copiers and internet computers, libraries have been the place where many members of the community are introduced to new technology.

By offering a 3D printing MakerDay at the library we are inviting you to discover your most creative self by learning how to design objects and meet and work together with other members of our community. Drop in anytime between 10 a.m. – 12 noon during the MakerDay. No appointment necessary.

What is 3D printing? How does it work?
3D printing is the process of making a physical object from a digital model. It is also known as additive manufacturing because the physical model is built up one layer at a time. Durham County Library’s 3D printers use a process where plastic filament (PLA) is fed through a heated nozzle which melts the plastic.

What are some practical uses of 3D printing?
3D printing can be used for low-volume, custom or on-demand manufacturing. 3D printing allows for rapid prototyping of design concepts into functional, working models.

Is 3D printing safe?
The library uses PLA filament which is a bioplastic derived from corn. It is guaranteed not to have any heavy metals, phthalates or BPA.

What software is used to make 3D models?
We recommend the free, online program called Tinkercad. You can sign up for an account with just an email address. All of your work can then be saved in the .stl format needed to use the library’s MakerBot 3D printer. Other possible programs are Sketchup or AutoDesk123D.

How do I get a file printed?
To print a model, a .stl file will be needed. You can either bring in a file or create one during one of our MakerDays at the library. Your file will be reviewed by our staff, and we will tell you how much it will cost and how long it will take to print. Once you have paid the printing cost, your file will be added to our printing queue. For the time being, 3D printing will only be offered on MakerDays at the Library. You will receive an email when your design has been printed, and you will be able to pick it up at the Main Library at anytime during our open hours.

What colors do you offer?
We currently offer red, blue, green, yellow, black, purple, clear, white, orange and brown.

Can you help me design a 3D model?
The library’s MakerSpace staff will be happy to show you the basics of Tinkercad and to direct you to online resources, however, we will not be able to help you design your model. The true idea of a MakerSpace is to work together with like-minded community members to learn new skills. We invite known 3D makers to join us on MakerDays.

How big of an object can you print?
12 x 12 x 12 inches is the largest size we can accommodate.

How much does it cost to print something?
3D printing pricing is based on the weight of the object in grams: .25₵ per gram. Please see the examples in the MakerSpace for size and weight estimations. The library only accepts cash and checks.

How long will it take for me to get my 3D printed object?
Printing will be first-come, first-served. Your file will be placed in the queue in the order it was received. We do retain the right to reorder the queue based on printing times and staff availability. Printing time varies based on the size of the object. Small objects can take less than an hour, while large projects can take five or more hours.

How often will you offer MakerDays at the library?
Our plan is to have one MakerDay a month at the Main Library.

What if my file doesn’t come out the way I wanted it?
The library’s MakerSpace staff will work with you to determine the best resolution and infill for your model. We cannot guarantee how your model will turn out, however, you are responsible for all printing costs.

Take a look at some of the things we’ve printed