If you happened to visit the STEAM Lab or the Teen Space last week, you probably noticed that our 3D printers have DOUBLED since the last time you were there. Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of Upper Dublin Public Library, we now have four printers up and running. The new printers are MakerBot Replicator Minis, identical in print quality to the larger MakerBot Replicator, but with a smaller print plate. These new printers are ideal for printing single objects and will be instrumental to our 3D Print On-Demand program which will be up and running in the not-too-distant future.
It still astounds me on a daily basis that I’m lucky enough to work with these machines. A few times people have asked me when we’re going to stop printing toys and models and start printing more functional objects like wheelchairs for cats or prosthetic hands like they’ve read about or seen on the nightly news. I always assure these people that we’re working on it! We’re still in the very beginning stages of seeing what kind of impact this technology will have the community of Upper Dublin and although we haven’t reached prosthetic level yet, that doesn’t mean that we haven’t done some amazing things. I’ve taught 3rd graders how to create personalized action figures and 11th graders how to design model houses and watched as a 9th grader used the digital scanner to scan and create a model of her mother’s hands. These students are mastering the basics of 3D design that they need in order to create the more impressive objects. Knowing how to make an action figure will teach students how 3D printed pieces fit together. Understanding how models are made from scratch will enable them visualize how specialized pieces can be created. And students (or any users of any age!) who are able to use the scanner will be able to make highly customized designs for other people.
I hope that you’ll come into the library to visit our printers! We’re more than happy to introduce you to them!