CIL2017 – 30 for 3D

I attended a session by Nick Tanzi on 30 things you can do with 3D printing in your library. This topic was quite extensive and he had a very good list of topics and ideas. While his list was quite extensive, I will cover parts below.


Small Scale Manufacturing
When a library first gets a 3D printer I think it is natural for them to think how can we use this for programming. But a great idea that Nick had was, how can you use this to print things for your library. This can be as simple as printing items for quick giveaways for a patron event. Or even creating customized library tropies that patrons can earn as part of summer reading. Name tags, name plates, for library clubs or advisory boards are another great, in-library use for a 3D printer.


Public 3D Print Service
Offering 3D printing as a patron service allows patrons to print their own things on your printer. They of course were charging the patrons enough to just cover the cost of the materials for the printer. This can be used by patrons who are hobbyists, who may want to print some small scale items for their train models. Another great use, and one close to my heart, was that patrons can use this to print miniatures that you find games like Dungeons & Dragons. Normally miniatures for these games cost a decent amount, but the service provided by Nick and his library allow their printing at a fraction of the cost.  I myself have a 3D printed miniature of the Demogorgon from Stranger Things on my desk at work. Nick also mentioned 3D printing replacement parts, such as wheels, washers, or screws for appliances and other items in the library. A lot of manufacturers have plans online, or measurements you can use to print the item. And if you happen to have the item still, you can always use 3D scanning to get an image of it to print.


Programs and Software
Nick also listed off a lot of software and options for both creating / manipulating images, as well as 3D scanning. A list of them below, as well as links to more information are below.

  • TinkerCAD – TinkerCAD is great as it is a very powerful tool for making 3D images, and is web based, meaning you can create and save projects in the cloud. As well as access on multiple devices.
  • Blokify – Blokify is easy to learn and great for short classes or pixel art. It is available on Apple iOS.
  • Cubify Draw – Creates 3D models very quickly, and is extremely easy to use. Available on Apple iOS.
  • Structure Sensor – Is a great 3D scanning tool. Available on Apple iOS.
  • Scann3D – A great 3D scanning tool, avaible for Android devices on Google Play.
  • Makerbot PrintShop – Creates 3D models using black & white drawings. Age accessible and can be done with a single iOS device.


Being a Good Citizen of Earth
Nick also talked about some of the things you can do to make your printer more eco-friendly as well as using it for good. One of things to make it more eco-friendly is look at using PLA filament instead of standard ABS filament.  ABS filament can take thousands of years to biodegrade.  PLA filament can be sent to a composting facility, but don’t try it at home as the conditions to make it biodegrade are very specific.

Another great use for 3D printing is to make prosthetics, which designs can be found online and pieces printed. This can be done as part of a library program that kids / teens can work on. Nick mentioned there are a few organizations that your library can get involved with such as Enabling The Future, Prosthetic Kids Hand Challenge, as well as other local organizations. But 3D printing prostheics isn’t just a need for humans, as there are several animals that can benefti from prostheics as well. Nick suggested partnering with local animal shelters to create a 3D printing program for animal prosthetics.


One of the things that I think is a concern for mores libraries is product liability. They have the same issue when patrons make regular copies of materials, etc. Below is something Nick shared from the American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy on 3D printing. Of course libraries already have similar policies already in effect at their library about copies, referring to those could also be useful when forming 3D printing policies.

While there is no way of predicting the magnitude of the intellectual property and/or product liability disputes over 3D-printed items that will occur in the future, this uncertainty should not deter us from continuing to use 3D printers in innovative and exciting ways.

I thought Nick did a really great job outlining all the things that their library did, as well as give consideration to a lot of uses for 3D printing in the library. I know there are a few libraries in our region that have 3D printers, and hopefully some of Nick’s ideas here can be useful for them as well.

A copy of Nick Tanzi’s presentation can be found at the following url.