Three-dimensional printing seems like magic: a machine prints an object layer by layer to make something out of almost nothing. You turn on the machine, wait a few minutes and voilà, the object appears!
This is the “Wow!” factor that the Press Democrat described in an article printed on August 27. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated: you need a design created on a computer and saved in a file, plus the 3D printing filament material in order to print an object.
Whether you’re apprehensive, inspired, or mildly interested by three-dimensional printing, we encourage you to explore the topic. You might be surprised how immersed you become in the design work, not to mention how mesmerizing you find the 3D printing process itself—it’s hard to look away!
While hosting the MakerBot Replicator Two 3D printer at the Petaluma Library we were impressed with the sophistication of the designs people brought to print and the varied online programs people used (TinkerCad, SketchUp, TinkerPlay, and more). A few original designs were practical objects or new inventions, others were simply fun toys or knick knacks. To a person, though, everyone has had fun printing. And, we at the library learned quite a bit about 3D printer maintenance and troubleshooting.
The computer-aided design process is where the true creativity lies, and it’s easy to explore with books or online 3D drawing programs.
Take a look at some of the books below, or go to TinkerCad.com or SketchUp Make and design yourself an object. TinkerPlay is a new app and program for creating toy creatures with ball and socket connectors. This robot was designed by a five-year old with help from mom:
The Sonoma County Library’s 3D printer is now at the Petaluma Regional Library, after a two-month stint at the Guerneville Library, and an initial period at the Central Santa Rosa Library. After September the printer will travel to the Healdsburg Library for a two-month stay.
Once you attend an introductory workshop you can book a free 2-hour print session to print your own creation.
What will you design?