20151228_143706At left is a photo of the 3D printer that the Regina Public Library recently installed at Central Branch. You can find details on how to access the printer on the RPL website. But here are the basics:

First, you need a valid library card. Anyone 15 and under also needs parental permission. Then you register on the website and sign up for a training session. These sessions are held at various branch locations, and provide information on how to submit design proposals using drafting software and what’s called an .stl file (.stl is short for stereolithography).

Once you’ve completed a training session and have an account, you can submit designs to RPL staff who will review the design and provide a cost estimate. Proposed designs have to meet certain terms and conditions. You can’t submit designs for objects that are prohibited by law, for instance, or that violate copyright, patent and trademark protections.

Ready-made designs for some objects can be accessed at websites such as Thingverse. Size is limited to the dimensions of the build area on the printer, and the job can’t exceed 18 hours.

Once the design and cost estimate have been approved by the RPL and you, the job joins the queue and will be “printed” using extruded corn-based plastic. Several colours are available, and the print cost is 10 cents per gram rounded to the nearest gram. Once the object is printed, you’ll receive an e-mail, and can pick up the object at Central Library.