3D Printing Classes

*New classes are being scheduled and information will be posted here when finalized.*

Are you interested in learning about 3D printing? Join us for a basic class that will explain what 3D printing is, the process by which the models are created and prepared for the printer and how you can find models to print yourself.

You will also get to see our Flashforge Creator Pro 3D Printer in action up close as we use it to create during the class. If you would like a preview of the type of things you can create please have a look at Thingiverse.com.

This program is suitable for all ages. No registration is required.

Which 3D printer does the library use?

The library uses the Flashforge Creator Pro 3D Printer.

Where do you find 3D models?

Most of the models we use can be found on Thingiverse.com which is a website dedicated to the sharing of user-created digital design files. You can look through the models other people have uploaded and find something you find interesting.

Where can I learn more?

The IRC Library will be hosting classes where we will explain more about 3D printing and how it works and see the 3D printer in action as it creates a model. We will also allow people to submit jobs to us which we will then 3D print for you and allow you to pickup later. In the future we plan on allowing patrons to gain access to the 3D printer to create their own items themselves as well.

The IRC Library's offical 3D printer policy can be found here.

Keep reading below for more information on 3D printing and how it works.

What is 3D printing?

3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file.

The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.

How does 3D printing work?

It all starts with making a virtual design of the object you want to create. This virtual design is for instance a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file. This CAD file is created using a 3D modeling application or with a 3D scanner (to copy an existing object). A 3D scanner can make a 3D digital copy of an object.

However, you don't have to design your own 3D models. Many sites on the Internet such as Thingiverse.com will allow you to download a design that other people have shared on the Internet for free and use it to print.

From 3D Model to 3D Printer

You will have to prepare a 3D model before it is ready to be 3D printed. This is what they call slicing. Slicing is dividing a 3D model into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers and needs to be done with software.

The library staff use a program called Simplify3D for slicing and we will generally take care of the slicing and creating the model for you after you have chosen a 3D model to print. When a file is uploaded in a 3D printer, the object is ready to be 3D printed layer by layer. The 3D printer reads every slice (2D image) and creates a three dimensional object.

3D printing is a fairly slow process. Below you can see a timelapse video of a model of the Eiffel Tower being printed. This actually took 20 hours to finish printing but it is a very large model. Most of the smaller models we print can be done in 1-5 hours. As you watch the video you will see the head of the printer moving around extruding plastic layer by layer to create the object.