The Jericho Public Library recently acquired a 3D printer and is offering its patrons the opportunity to create their own objects using this cutting-edge technology. The printer was purchased under a grant received through the initiative of library director Barbara Kessler.
One of the first libraries on the Island to have this device, the Jericho Library demonstrated the printer to its patrons on a recent afternoon, astounding attendees with the capabilities of the 3D device. .
The library’s head of technology development Carlos Munozospina and reference librarian Sarah Okano described the technology and showed how objects are printed from a polylactic acid filament (PLA), an organic material that feeds into the machine and prints out successive “layers” to create a finished product. The PLA material is a plastic derived from renewable resources such as corn starch, tapioca roots and sugar cane.
Items on display at the demonstration, which were made earlier with the printer, included a pencil holder, a miniature Eiffel Tower and chain-link bracelets.
While the limits of 3D printing are continuously being pushed, the library requires guests get permission to print certain objects. Okano said that Jericho library patrons may download files from a website or print their own design, but they must submit them for approval on the library’s website. A librarian would oversee production of the object.
“Staff members won’t show the patron how to create their own designs, but the user can do a self-teaching tutorial using the library’s access to Lynda.com,” said Okano.
The cost for printing is $2 an hour with a three hour maximum time restriction per Jericho library cardholder.
One challenge to using the printer, Okano said, is that more complicated objects require more time to print and sometimes, if objects must be printed in sections, the sections may not fit precisely when completed, although printed objects may be filed down to enable each section to fit properly.
One item Okano displayed was a small Millennium Falcon aircraft from the film Star Wars, which comprised three sections that inter-lock. In total, the toy took about three hours to reproduce.
Munozospina and Okano acknowledged that use of the 3D printer raises copyright infringement issues, which are emerging and being dealt with increasingly as the popularity of 3D printing technology evolves.
In addition, they said although commercial 3D printers can print objects in steel or other metals, issues about the “printing” of weapons such as knives or guns are at the forefront of legal concerns.
Okano said that Jericho library patrons interested in using the printer must make an appointment with the library. They then must describe the project they intend to print.
“The library will restrict any usage of the 3D printer if the patron wants to print inappropriate or illegal objects,” she said.
To use the 3D printer, a patron needs to visit the reference desk and fill out an agreement prior to making an appointment.
“Once the agreement is complete,” said Okano, “the patron may schedule an appointment at least one day in advance.”
The 3D printer is the fifth generation of MakerBot Replicator. Cost of a retail 3D printer ranges from $1,000 from Home Depot or other retail outlet to $8,000.
Further information about how to print objects with the 3D printer is available from a librarian at the reference desk of the Jericho Library. Call 516-935-6790 for more information.