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.