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3D Printing

The library is currently closed due to COVID-19, so we’re unable to accept 3D print jobs at this time. We appreciate your patience and look forward to working with you on 3D printing when we reopen!

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


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.

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, you will need an .stl file. 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.

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 MakerLab staff will be happy to show you the basics of Tinkercad and to direct you to online resources, but we will not be able to help you design your model. The true idea of a MakerLab is to work together with like-minded community members to learn new skills.

What size objects can I print?
We currently have two printer models available. The Lulzbot Mini 2 has a print area of 160mm wide by 160mm long by 180mm high. The Makerbot Replicator has a print area of 199mm wide by 252mm long by 150mm high.

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 MakerLab 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.

What if my file doesn’t come out the way I wanted it?
The library’s MakerLab 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