Poor Marvin. He’s got every reason to be paranoid, everyone IS out to get him. Well, perhaps “ignore him” is a more accurate phrase.
As we turned the page on 2015, I struggled to recall that last time someone asked to use the 3D Printer. I oft see folks stop on their way to the holds shelf and check it out. They read the handout and pick up the objects on display. “Cool” and “awesome” are common reactions. But it’s been quite some time since someone actually asked to use the printer. So I was thrilled to get a submission a couple of weeks into 2016.
We ask for the .stl file so that I can run it through the Cubify software and see how long it will take to print. We only allow objects a 2 hour window. We’re flexible if it’s over by a little. But when I ran this lass’ file through it was set to 25 hours to print. While not usually that long, being over the 2 hour window is commonplace. So I resized the file to get it under 2 hours. Then I took a closer look and realized resizing may not be an option.
The file was for a Network Cable Organizer. Anyone that’s worked on a server, will attest to the horror show that keeping cables organized can quickly devolve into. Since, cables are a specific thickness, shrinking the organizer pretty much makes the thing useless. I had to go back to the patron with the bad news. I hate not being able to help someone, so I racked my brain and realized the time limit may have more to do with our printer and not 3D technology in general. Would a higher end model be able to print the organizer is a more reasonable amount of time? I’m pretty sure it would. So while I can’t offer the patron another printer option, I realized I could point her elsewhere.
Amanda Goodman is a library extraordinaire. She is a woman of many talents. One of the many contributions to libraries she’s made is a map of 3D Printers in libraries. One of the quick wins librarians are so good at is simply collecting information. That’s what she’s done here: http://www.amandagoodman.com/3d/. It’s a self-contributing model. I did it myself. I emailed her a link to our 3D Printer page on the website and she added us. This is incredibly useful because each library makes their own decisions regarding their printer; what model to by, when it’s available for public user, how much it will cost the patrons, etc. Each pin on the map links to the page holding the pertinent information.
So I gave my patron Amanda’s handy link and told her to check out the other libraries in the area. Perhaps one of their models will be a feasible solution. If you’re a patron and are looking to enter the world of 3D printer, it’s an invaluable tool for you. If you’re a librarian and are looking to purchase a 3D printer, it’s an invaluable tool for you as well. This is an exciting time for libraries and this map is proof of that.