What Is 3D Printing and Why Should I Care?
3D printing is an accessible process of transforming a data file into a tangible three-dimensional object. 3D printers meld together thin layers of solid material in a fashion and form designed by folks like you and me using free software.
What sorts of things are people making? Pretty much anything and everything they can think of! 3D printed objects run the gamut from novelty items and gifts (like sculptures of your dog and action figure self-portraits), to games, jewelery, art, fashion, and all manner of design prototypes and real world products. 3D printing has rapidly accelerated the process of transforming ideas into objects. Open Source printer kits and design software are helping make this fabrication technology readily accessible.
Who’s Doing It In ND?
I wanted to find out if there were any makerspaces or hackerspaces in North Dakota, where people might already have public access to 3D printers. I found two groups still very much in their formative stages, neither yet with a space to call its own: the Minot Makers and the Fargo Makerworks. This is a start and a promising one; it is also an opportunity for partnerships and outreach for area libraries.
Why 3D Belongs In Libraries
Libraries are not mere repositories of books and information, they are the spaces in which ideas are discovered, dissected, and discussed. They are places were inspiration and creativity blossom through sharing and curation. Libraries foster and depend upon free and democratic access not only to ideas but to the means of bringing them into the world. Why wouldn’t libraries welcome a technology enabling patrons to render their dreams?
So how do you make this happen? Research and planning, which I would like to make as easy for you as possible. Here are some great resources to get you started:
- The Makerspace Playbook, a thorough guide on setting up your space.
- Comparison charts of 3D printers from 3ders and additive3d.
- Software tutorials, download links, and lesson plans from Makerbot.
- Examples of library makerspaces at the Westport Public Library, W.M. Logan Library, and NCSU’s Hunt Library (this last included mostly for their model use fees)
- Cory Doctorow on makerspaces in libraries. Check out his excellent book Makers while you’re at it.
- Read more from Andromeda Yelton on the philosophical debate about 3D printers in libraries.
- Finally, the Thingiverse, a world of creations and their plans.
UPDATE: This amazing Kickstarter project just came to my attention. The Othermill would make an exceptional addition to any makerspace.