Let’s Talk: 3D Printing

Let’s have a good discussion about this.  We can talk here in the comments or we can talk over at Branch here.  You pick.  I’ll compile the discussion at a later point and post it to this blog.

I’ve reached a point where 3D printing feels more like a 3D printing service…you come to the library, you make something, we print it at a later date, and you pick it up.  I want to change this but I am hitting a roadblock.  Any suggestions on better practices?

Thank you all for your input.


  1. Justin, I’m in the conversation. What did the patron learn from making the something? Is there collaboration involved? How does the drop in do it and leave model fill your libraries mission? Is the drop in do leave model an adjunct to other uses that do engage other patrons in learning?

  2. This is definitely something I want to talk to other librarians about! We always have the possibility of getting a 3D printer in the back of our minds, but until we know how it is actually going to be used by patrons here we can’t make a decision. Quite the debate!

    • Right now we are using a “come in and give it a shot” type of model. It works well for those who are curious about 3D printing but at times it can turn into a 3D printing factory. We would like to encourage making and creativity using a 3D printer, not mindlessly printing things found on Thingiverse. There’s a balance we need to find.

  3. Is the purpose to teach youth how to construct/design an object? Is it to scale down a larger, moveable object and learn how the pieces fit together? Are you relating it to other library resources, like making a diorama or object from a novel or film?

    This is why I’ve had trouble understanding why 3D printers are the latest thing for libraries to have. So often it seems more like a time/money/energy suck than a real service.

    • THIS!
      “Is the purpose to teach youth how to construct/design an object? Is it to scale down a larger, moveable object and learn how the pieces fit together?”

      We want to expose them to the technology, show them how to use it for good, and give them a new skill.

  4. The model at the library I recently added a makerspace to was “pop-up” and on-demand. People had to print their own objects, and we would train them in use of the printer if we had time, but also offered dedicated programs for them to learn. We also cultivated teachers, and found that an 11-year-old boy was one of the best. We called him sometimes when a patron wanted to learn how to use the printer and we were busy.

    As for what the purpose is…I’m just finishing up a study of librarian feelings on that issue and a few others related to makerspace-type stuff. If anyone wants to participate, let me know. You can find info on my wordpress blog.

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