3-D printing may be the way of the future, but for the average Joe, actually getting ahold of a 3-D printer to use on the cheap remains somewhat challenging.
Starting this week, though, 3-D printing will be as easy as swiping a library card for Chicago residents. The city's main downtown library, the Harold Washington Library Center, has opened up a free maker lab that anyone can access, with three MakerBot 3-D printers, laser cutters and a milling machine. It's the first maker space to open in a major urban library.
For now, the grant money provided to run the lab is only available till the end of the year, so the space is temporary. The library staff will then evaluate whether to continue the project.
Librarians will have to approve whatever designs end up being printed, the Chicago Tribune writes, and they've already vetoed 3-D printed weapons. So far, the staff has been messing around with the new machines themselves, making wooden iPhone docks, custom keychains and 3-D printed chess sets to get a feel for how they work, according to Ars Technica.
Teachers and business owners have been "e-mailing nonstop," Ars reports, asking the library how they can get in on the action. No surprise there: We hear you can 3-D print some cool things these days.
Wow, public production was not something I would have expected but...awesome!
I fail to see how this has any relationship to the reasons for a maintaining a library. Exactly how is this public money being spend for the enrichment of the mind through media? Not to mention public use of money going to creation of object for personal use. Libraries need to concentrate their money back to what they are meant for.
Great job, CPL!
Access to information for all people comes in so many formats. By making tools and technology accessible to everyone the playing field is leveled. Children/Teens/Adults will have access to ideas and a future that they may never be exposed to otherwise. Libraries are a perfect place to make this happen!
I work for a rural, public library in Saxonburg, PA where we implemented a 3D printer for use by our patrons in early June. The interest is overwhelming (in a good way!), and it's been wonderful to see so many people of all ages have their eyes open to the future. I love all the energy behind this movement in the library community, and look forward to seeing how it changes the future for our current and future patrons.
@jefro What a horribly small-minded comment. Access to just being able to -see- something like this in a public library can light up a child's mind and create a future love of science and potentially, a child who goes on to become a scientist or inventor themselves.
The article already states that printed items have to go through approval so I'm going to have to give a gold star for this project. I hope they find ongoing funds in future years to keep it alive.
jetro, how long has it been since your last visit to a public library?
Having giving this a it more thought, I appears that you mistakenly that the Chicago Public Library has only one funding source - the taxpayer.
Never forget that public libraries have private funding sources. People and companies donate some of the most expensive books and equipment.
I know the difference between summer camp and a library. Do you guys? Libraries have existed just fine for thousand of years because they had one single function. It's function was to provide a source for media. Making 3D junk is summer camp stuff. Silly me to expect tax money being spend in a proper manner.
Since you are so critical of the manner in which access to this new technology is being offered to the public can you suggest a more efficient way to do it?
Or, do you think that 3-D printing is a production technique that has no chance of making manufacturing more productive and therefore is a waste of time?
Andrew Carnagie, James Jerome Hill (The Empire Builder) and Peter Cooper who funded libraries, would probably think that 3-D printers were neat devices that could help the striving poor inventor, designer or small buisness man create the tools he needed to go forward. (Think of a 1920' photographer making his camera, daylight developing tank and enlarger on a 3-D printer.)