THREE DIMENSIONS

The Tahlequah Public Library has seen a recent uptick at the library’s new 3D printing station, now that word has gotten out about what all it can do.

It is capable of producing everything from three-headed dragons, a skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, knights, wizards, or just your basic keychain.

Michelle Newton, an employee at the library, said the printer can create almost anything a person can imagine.

“Just the other day, I had a little kid bring a drawing they made and we scanned it, and put the 3D printer to work,” she said. “It does take a little while, but the technology is really amazing in what it can do.”

The contraptions created in the MakerBot Replicator are built from layers of plastic that melt together once the machine has reached a temperature of 180 degrees Celcius. Essentially, it turns a whole object into tiny slices, then builds it from the bottom up.

The Tahlequah Public Library has seen a recent uptick at the library’s new 3D printing station, now that word has gotten out about what all it can do.

It is capable of producing everything from three-headed dragons, a skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, knights, wizards, or just your basic keychain.

Michelle Newton, youth services

coordinator for the library, said the printer can create almost anything a person can imagine.

“Just the other day, I had a little kid bring a drawing they made and we scanned it, and put the 3D printer to work,” she said. “It does take a little while, but the technology is really amazing in

what it can do.”

The contraptions created in the MakerBot Replicator are built from layers of plastic that melt together once the machine has reached a temperature of 180 degrees Celcius. Essentially, it turns a whole object into tiny slices, then builds it from the bottom up.

“Anyone who wants to come to the library can do it,” Newton said. “I’ve had someone come in with a design of a mini Nintendo. If you know what you’re doing, it’s pretty cool.”

Those who don’t have the MakerBot’s software for finding and creating designs can go to www.thingiverse.com to download previously designed items onto an external hard drive, and bring it in to be printed at the library.

Newton said those who would like to learn more about the design process and how to blueprint their own knick-knacks can visit www.tinkercad.com.

“It’s a great place for people to go and learn how to do designing themselves,” she said. “It’s a pretty simple interface. You just have to have email to create an account. You can even take lessons on how to work it.”

The cost is 10 cents per gram of the plastic coil used to make the items.

“The coil is plastic, though, so whatever you create isn’t that heavy,” Newton said. “You can come in and make a keychain for about 70 cents. So it’s really not that bad.”

It is a slow process, making virtually anything out of plastic. Depending on what is printing, it can take anywhere from one to 15 hours — possibly longer.

To avoid a long wait, the library lets patrons bring in designs with their names and phone numbers, so they can leave and come back to their freshly made Monopoly game piece once it’s complete.

While the library makes some accomodations, residents cannot meander down to the library with a list of items, with no designs, and expect the library to make whatever object is asked for. Staff will help people with creating designs on the spot, though.

“I can’t spend hours designing people’s toys, and then waiting for them to actually be printed,” Newton said. “I’ll show you how to design it, and help you tweak whatever you bring in.”

Anyone can purchase one of these 3-D printers for himself, but the cost can be upward of $2,000. The library offers the same capabilities, but for much less.

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