3D Printing Service at Newtown Public Library

The Board of Trustees adopted the 3D Printer Acceptable Use Policy on May 19, 2016.

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing is the process of creating a physical object from a digital model. It is also known as additive manufacturing because the physical model is built one layer at a time from the bottom up. 3D printing provides an opportunity for everyone to take an idea from their imagination, design it, and create a physical model. Newtown Public Library is actively building a community environment that nurtures creativity while stimulating and supporting learning and innovation.

What type of 3D printer is available?

Currently, Newtown Public Library uses a LulzBot Mini to 3D print.

  • Filament options: PLA (Polyactic Acid – derived from renewable plant-based starches) or HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) depending on colors available.
  • Number of colors per print: 1
  • Maximum print size (inches): 6(w) x 6.2(h) x 6(d)

What software is available to create 3D models?

We recommend the free, browser-based program called Tinkercad for beginners. Other free programs are Blender, Sketchup or 123D Design. Designs can also be downloaded from Thingiverse, a design community for sharing 3D printable objects.

More about printing your design:

To print an object, provide us with your .stl file on a flash drive. Files can be no larger than 250 MB. We will download your file to our computer and return the flash drive to you.

All submitted prints must adhere to Newtown Public Library’s 3D Printer Acceptable Use Policy.

3D printing pricing is based on the weight of the object in grams at a cost of $.25 per gram, rounded up to the nearest gram, plus tax. Library staff will provide an estimated cost upon file submission and will weigh the final print to determine final cost.

Our printer prints in layers, from the bottom up, and each layer must be supported by something beneath it. If part of a model has nothing beneath it, like the wings of an airplane, the printer has to print supports beneath that part. Brims are used to stabilize small parts or isolated sections of the model that need help staying connected to the print bed. A raft is a horizontal latticework located underneath your print to help stabilize models with small footprints if you need a stronger foundation than can be provided by a brim. (Prior to printing, stall will review the print job with the customer to show them how the printer is interpreting their file – this includes pointing out potential problems and where supports or brims may be necessary.)

Library staff are not responsible for removing any supports, brims or rafts. Staff can direct you to resources on how to remove supports and finish your printed model.

Printing will be first-come, first-served. Your file will be placed in the queue in the order it was received. Printing time varies based on the size of the object. Small objects can take less than an hour, while large projects can take five or more hours. We do retain the right to reorder the queue based on printing times and staff availability. Library staff will print your file and notify you and notify you when it is ready to be picked up and paid for. If the item is not picked up within two weeks, the object will become the property of the library.

Newtown Public Library staff can direct customers to online resources, however, we will not be assisting in the design of customer models. Staff will not modify or change models once submitted. If you decide that you want to increase/decrease the size of your model once seeing it in the printer software, you will need to re-work the object in the software used to create the object. 

Print Time

Print times can vary depending on the size or the complexity of your print. We ask that you try to keep your print times to less than 8 hours. This way we can complete the print job during our regular week day hours Monday-Thursday with some time to spare.

Misprints

We are defining a misprint as a bad print that is the fault of the machine, a power outage, etc. We will re-print these at no charge. Otherwise, if the printer did complete the print as designed, you will be charged for the print.

You will notice on the form that we are asking about the origination of the object file: was it downloaded or did you create it on your own. If you have downloaded the file from Thingiverse (or other site), please review the page for how many successful prints are recorded and the comments. If there are many comments listed that point to many unsuccessful prints, you may want to look for another version of the object that has positive comments or successful prints. If there are no successful prints or the comments are overwhelmingly negative, you may still print this item at your risk.

If you have created your own object file, you will be responsible for the cost of the print regardless of the success of the print. This includes files that have been downloaded and modified and prototype objects that require multiple prints until the design is perfected.

Weighing Objects

The software that is used to create the print file for the printer will provide an estimate of the final weight of the object in grams. This weight includes any support necessary to print the object. We will provide you with the estimate prior to printing. Once printed, we will weigh the object on a scale to calculate the final weight and cost.

What type of filament should I use?

For general applications, you should use the PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) filament. For items that may require greater strength or may be subjected to higher temperatures (the inside of a car or dishwasher), use the HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) filament.

We recommend that if any of your printed items will come into direct contact with food, use plastic wrap or aluminum foil as a barrier between food and the plastic. While PLA filament is listed as safe for direct contact with food, it is still fairly porous and fully cleaning/disinfecting the item can be difficult.

Filament colors

You do have the option to select the color used for your print. We do have a limited number of colors and, due to cost, cannot purchase filament colors for specific print jobs.

Print Job Queue

We will print your object as soon as we can. There are a number of factors that can affect how long it take use to print your object. There could be other people ahead of you, and their object print time could vary from 1-8 hours. We also conduct programs with the 3D printer, so it may be in use to support a program. We do reserve the right to adjust the queue to most efficiently print items. We may have times where we move a shorter print job ahead of a longer job because it will complete before the end of the day or before a program.

How do I finish my 3D print?

Support material can be carefully removed using X-ACTO knives and needle nose pliers. If you are interested in more advanced finishing techniques, we suggest the following resources: