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Special Edition: 3D Printing

3D printers are becoming increasingly popular around the world. They are being used for all sorts of things and a lot of people and organizations are investing in them. Since many libraries are starting to have them availble for public use, we thought it would be a good idea to go over what they are, how they can be used, and give you some helpful resources.

3D Printing: What it is and what it means for you!

Children 3D Printing

What is 3D Printing?

You may have heard about 3D printing, scanning, and design somewhere on the Internet, the television, or from a family member or friend. You may be asking yourself, what is it and why is it all of a sudden taking the world by storm?

At its base, 3D printing allows you to design and build a shape or object on your computer and then print that shape or object into a physical object that you can hold in your hand. So, if you have a something that broke in your house like a coaster or a pencil holder, you could either duplicate it or create an entirely new design that could twist and morph to become a multipurpose tool!

There are many different types of 3D printers and the machines come in many shapes and sizes. Some use a liquid that gets a laser pointed at it to make your shape and some heat up to melt plastic and then draw your shape layer by layer. One of the more popular 3D printers use extrusion-based printing, which uses the melted plastic. This type of 3D printer has been showing up in a lot of libraries as of late, some examples are Kitchener Public Library, Essa Public Library, Toronto Public Library, and Kingston Frontenac Public Library.

Where is 3D Printing Used?


Right now, 3D printing, as well as 3D scanning, is being used in the world of medicine to allow doctors and surgeons to scan trouble areas in the human body and then replicate it into something more accessible and interactive using 3D printing methods. It allows them to get a much better representation of their patient's organs and bone structure, allowing them to actually feel and visually see what they're working with without using a camera inside the body. The medical world is also currently researching organ printing. They are using 3D printers to produce artificial organs that will be used in transplants. 3D Printer in Library


Manufacturers and engineers around the world are slowly starting to use 3D printing to create their prototype machines and parts because it cuts down on costs and stops them from having to outsource work to other companies. With the use of 3D printing to break out into rapid prototyping, it allows companies to design and create molds or prototyper in hours, instead of possibly waiting up to a few weeks for another company to get their projects back to them.

Arts and Education

A huge part of 3D printing and 3D scanning is that it can bring someone's imagination to life and allows their creativity to thrive as a physical object rather than being a 2D or 3D sketch on a computer screen. Many libraries are adapting this sort of technology, not only to embrace the new digital frontier, but to allow for people of all ages to use this new medium to harness and unleash a whole new level of creativity that they may not have experienced before. It allows for learning with a different level of hands-on design experience which can help them visualize different concepts, create functional projects, and even learn about design. The level of expansion we've seen is incredible and can only grow further in adaption from this point on.

There are hundreds of blogs, tutorial sites, support forums, and even makerspaces out there that can get you started. There are free programs to help with designing such as: Blender, AutoDesk Maya, 123D Catch, and Sculptris just to name a few of the more popular free programs that are in use out there today.

Check out our CyberCamp Wiki for more information about 3D printing and software resources.

Instructed 3D Printing Lesson

Success Story - Justin Turcotte @ Essa Public Library

The Essa Public Library has a newly acquired 3D printer which is available for public use. It was one of the first things that I learned how to use as a Youth Intern! It is an amazing piece of new technology with incredible possibilities. Recent technological advancements in the field of 3D printing have included 3D printing prosthetics and even organs. Now, we aren‘t printing any organs but it is so delightful to see people watch it print a wide assortment of objects with awe. I have helped many people, young and old, print 3D objects and so many people are intrigued by this new technology that they want to learn more about it.

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The Government of Canada provides funding for this initiative.
Le gouvernement du Canada offre de l'aide financičre pour cette initiative.