Roanoke Revealed

3D printers at South County Library

3D printers at South County Library

The South County Library put two 3D printers into action for patrons in December of 2017. Recently, staff held a free class that outlined how they work, where to find designs and offered library personnel to help anyone with guidance on designs and production of product.

3-D printer in Roanoke

The Lulzbot Taz 6 3-D printer at South County Library

The Friends of the Library provided the funds for both 3D printers at this branch, a Lulzbot Mini and a Lulzbot Taz 6. These are available to any patron (presumably with a library card). Printing production charges are the cost for materials only, at 20 cents a gram. This can go a long way with non-solid items when you consider the plastic construct. This is charged to purchase the filament spools that need to be replaced after you create your masterpiece.

I’ve been fascinated by the concept of 3D printers since they came on the mainstream consumer market scene less than a decade ago. The first I saw was a high end machine employed by manufacturers in the ‘90s, These seemed cost-prohibitive at the time for personal use. Kind of like all new technology, I suppose. Who would have figured?

Today, they’re at your local library where you can produce designs others are offering for free or at a low cost with production costs as low as 40 cents for some selections. Incredible, right?

Finding all you need online and locally

If you’re curious about where you can go to create 3D models, there are a good number of sites to grab what you want. The library only needs the website link (to either the product as is and/or one that you customize) to create what you want. They have the slicing software that instructs the printers on how layers are to be made. South County Library offers the following resources for your 3D design creations:

And for 3D model files (most free, some for a minimal fee):

Here’s a search site designed specifically for 3D model websites all over the world:

Designs for printing include everything from vases and phone holders to mechanical items and kitchen tools.  Whether your desires are practical, decorative, custom or functional, you can find all sorts of designs others have created. If you want to take a turnkey design and customize it with, say, some one’s name, you can easily do this at free sites available with easy tools to render additions to designs you like.

Mike Hibben, Branch Manager of the South County Library, is available for questions about 3D printing or help in getting your creation scheduled for 3D printing time. You can reach Mike at (540) 777-8778 or through e-mail at mhibben through the county address @roanokecountyva.gov.

Classes are generally held monthly at South County Library, are free and a hoot. I enjoyed spending a couple of hours learning and participating. You’ll appreciate the interactive sessions, particularly if it’s your first introduction to 3D printers or printing. Plus, at least for now, they’re gifting workshop attendees their first 3D project print.

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