Who can use the 3D printer ?
Anyone can ! There is a certification class (1-2hrs) available that will allow you to bring your own models in and use the printer for up to 11 hours at a time, but even without this class you can come in and ask any front desk staff to show you the ‘menu’ we have available of pre-selected objects to print.
How do I access the printer ?
If you have completed the certification course, simply call or visit the library and request to use the printer at your prefer time, availability allowing (printer is booked on a first come-first-served basis). Once booked, just show up and let front desk staff know you are here for your session and they will log you onto the attendant computer. If you simply want to see the printer work and have not attended the certification course, staff will show you a pre-made ‘menu’ of items that can be printed for you. Please see the image below of the current menu items.
When can the printer be used ?
During our normal business hours, within reason (please don’t expect to be able to print at 10 minutes to closing!) so long as the printer is not currently in use.
What kind of Printer does the TPL have and where did it come from ?
Our printer is the Ultimaker 3 and was purchased with funds donated by Dr. Colleen Froese in memory of her parents Emil & Mary Froese.
I don’t have my own PC to make art for the printer, can I borrow one?
Dr. Froese’s generous donation allowed us to purchase a powerful PC workstation to create digital art assets and is a intrinsic part of the 3D printing workflow at TPL. When you book the printer, you inevitably also book the PC to print from, but it can be booked separately and used for any kind of content creation you like, whether it will end up being sent to the printer or not. Although we use it to send jobs to the printer, it is technically a separate resource and can be booked independently whether you are 3D Printing certified or not.
What kind of materials can I print with ?
Currently, we are printing with a material called “PLA” (Poly Lactic Acid) due to its versatility, ease of use and biocompatible nature. It is a safe, easy to use and cost effective material.
How much does it cost to print things ?
Print cost is determined by the amount of filament your model uses. It can be a tricky question to answer because it does not necessarily correlate to the size of the object being printed. It is probably easier to say that the objects density is a better gauge of the eventual print cost, but that is a tough ‘unit’ to work with in itself ! The short, easy answer is most prints end up costing from cents to a few dollars, with the largest, most expensive prints we’ve seen being between $20-$30. Because print times are limited, there is an inevitable ‘cost ceiling’ for TPL prints.
What if my print doesn’t work? Do I still have to pay?
If a print fails due to unforeseen circumstances (power outage, mechanical error, filament runs out etc.) you would not be required to pay for the failed job (and you are welcome to keep the partial print). Staff will also do their best to re-start the print for you, when possible. However if the print fails due to user error stemming from improper settings, bad geometry, etc. then you will be required to pay for the failed print.
How long do prints take ?
Prints vary in length depending on size and complexity. A small ring may take 5 minutes, but an intricate figure just 3-5 inches tall may take 12+ hours to print, easily.
I’ve certified, but I’m not a digital artist/maker with my own 3D models but still want to use the printer. How do I find some ?
Because many people do not know how to create their own 3D models we have bookmarked a variety of resources for patrons to browse on the Content Creation PC – Namely a website called ‘ Thingiverse ‘ which is a major repository for online 3D models intended for printing, driven by a strong community of artists and makers. There are also many other resources available through Thingiverse that might interest you if you are looking to delve deeper into 3D printing and asset creation. The Education tab on Thingiverse will provide you with a fantastic amount of free online resources.
I have an idea for a product/toy/thing and would like to 3D print it – will you help me create it ?
Alas, the mandate at the Terrace Public Library is to provide access and education and as such we provide the tools and knowledge but you must do the rest with what you learn! 3D printing at the TPL is not provided as a service but rather as an opportunity to experience the technology in a fun, safe, risk-free way to drive curiosity, exploration and education to our patrons of all ages.