What is a 3D Printer?
A 3D printer creates three-dimensional objects by depositing materials layer by layer. 3D objects can range greatly – essentially if you can think of it, and create a 3D model of the item (or find one already pre-made on an open-source website), then it can be 3D printed. Toys, home décor, functional items, fandom items, and more can be printed.
What do you need to print a 3D object?
Part 1: a 3D File
In addition to a 3D printer, a 3D modeling file is needed. Websites such as www.thingiverse.com and www.3dupndown.com are examples of open-source websites where you can obtain such files. People post items that they have created through 3D modeling software and are allowing others to print their designs. There are also lots of different 3D modeling software (some free and others at cost), but two of the most well-known are AutoCad and Sketchup; using these software programs you can create a 3D image that can then be printed.
Once you have a digital file of the item you want to print, the file gets loaded into the 3D printer’s software, settings get applied (such as the thickness of the walls, what type of material it will be printed with, etc.) and then the item can begin to be printed.
Part 2: Filament
Just like a regular printer/copier that needs ink to print, a 3D printer needs filament. Filaments are actually thermoplastics, which are plastics that melt rather than burn when heated and then can be shaped/molded and solidified when cooled. Filament typically comes in 1 KG reels and is similar to a skein of thread in that the plastic is a thin tube that is just wound around the reel. The filament is then loaded into the extruder nozzle which gets heated to the correct temperature and now the filament is pliable and can be extruded to create the thin layers (in whatever shapes the 3D modeling file has created) which make up the 3D object.
There are lots of different types of filament, including wood (essentially plastic with sawdust mixed in), metallic, magnetic, glow-in-the-dark, flexible, liquid soluble (dissolves in contact with water) and etc. The most commonly used filaments are typically ABS, PLA and PETG. These are more standard plastic filaments that can be easily used.
Print Specifics for the Oak Creek Public Library:
How much does it cost to get something printed?
Residents of the city of Oak Creek with a valid library card may request one print job, under 100 grams total weight (including supports/multiple pieces), per month at no cost. Non-residents, and residents who request additional 3D prints/request a print job over 100 grams, must pay for the 3D print at the price of $0.05 per gram.
What color can I have it printed in?
At this time, print jobs can only be one color. However, if you have a print that is multiple pieces, then each piece could be a different color.
The colors currently available are:
Black, Blue (dark), Brown (light), Clear (translucent), Green (dark, translucent), Green (glow-in-the-dark), Orange (bright), Pink (bright, translucent), Purple (dark), Red (bright, translucent), Silver, White, Yellow (bright).
How long will it take to print?
Depending on the size of the 3D object (typically measured in millimeters), printing time can vary greatly. For a smaller object, such as a ring, that can take approximately 20 minutes. For larger objects, such as a vase, that can take upwards of 10 hours.
Due to the volume of requests, staff is unable to give a firm date/time as to when the print job will be completed, but will make every effort to complete the print job within 2 weeks.
Oak Creek’s 3D Printing Library
Using open-source websites, the Oak Creek Library has selected several items to show the true variety of items available for printing. Patrons can request any of these items to be printed in any color, but if the item is over 100 grams, if a resident of Oak Creek has already used their free print job, or if they are a non-resident of Oak Creek, the cost of printing will be $0.05 per gram.
All of the images below are photographed to show the dimensions in inches for width and height.
Jewelry & Keychains