3-D printing in the Center For Digital Scholarship

"my" library

“my” library

This is the tiniest of blog postings outlining my experiences with 3-D printing.

The Libraries purchased a 3-D printer — a MakerBot Replicator 2X — and it arrived here in the Center For Digital Scholarship late last week. It can print things to sizes just smaller than a bread box — not very big. To make it go one feeds it a special file which moves — drives — a horizontal platform as well as a movable nozzle dispensing melted plastic. The “special file” is something only MakerBot understands, I think. But the process is more generalized than that. Ideally one would:

  1. use a CAD program to model a 3-D object
  2. convert the resulting CAD file to a MakerBot file
  3. print

Alternatively, a person can:

  1. visit Thingiverse
  2. download one of their thousands of files
  3. convert the file to a MakerBot file
  4. print

Another choice is to:

  1. visit TinkerCAD
  2. use their online software to design a model
  3. download the resulting file
  4. convert the file to a MakerBot file
  5. print

Yet another choice is to:

  1. obtain 123D Catch for your iPhone
  2. use it to take many photographs of an object
  3. edit and clean-up the resulting 3-D image with 123D Catch online
  4. download the resulting file
  5. convert the file to a MakerBot file
  6. print

The other day I downloaded a modeling program — 3-D Sculpt — for my iPad. Import a generic model. Use the tools to modify it. Save. Convert. Print.

To date I’ve only printed a bust of Michelangelo’s David and a model of a “library”. I’ve tried to print other sculptures but with little success.

How can this be used in a library, or more specifically, in our Center For Digital Scholarship? Frankly, I don’t know, yet, but I will think of something. For example, maybe I could print 3-D statistics. Or I could create a 3-D model representing the use of words in a book. Hmmm… Do you have any ideas?

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