It all starts with a CAD file called an .stl (STereoLithography). This is a picture with instructions on how to print a design in three dimensions. This file is loaded onto the library's printer software, which is connected to the library's Lulzbot 3D printer. When the Lulzbot is turned on, the printer bed (the surface onto which the filament is melted) and the nozzle heat to upward of 180 degrees Celsius. The PLA filament (a biodegradable formula consisting mostly of cornstarch) is fed through the nozzle, heated, and melted onto the printer bed to build a small 3D object layer by layer. Once the 3D print is complete and has cooled, staff removes your print and alerts you that it's ready for pickup.
1) Explore existing designs and download free .stl files at Thingiverse, an online community that creates and shares designs.
Create your own design with the web-based platform Tinkercad; sign up with your email address.
2) Download the print file to your computer.
3) Fill out the 3D Printing Request form at right.
4) Select "Choose File."
5) Search your downloads folder and select the file (either .stl or .zip).
You'll be contacted when your print is ready for pickup!
If you would like to print a design that exceeds the library's 3D printing capabilities (your object is larger than 11 in x 11 in x 9.8 in or will take longer than 2 hours to print), check with a commercial 3D printing service. Some services offer the option to print in materials other than PLA—other plastics, metals, or ceramics. Do a quick online search for 3D printing services or check out one of these: