Amherst slowly embracing 3D printing

Christopher
Christopher Gooding
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Students, fossil finders find use for new technology

AMHERST – Think three-dimensional the next time you need to print something.

Game pieces and novelties are obvious uses for 3D printing, but Four Father Memorial Library’s Steve Weatherbee says trades people are also taking advantage of the service offered at the library in Amherst.

Purchased in 2013, the Cumberland family of libraries showcased the utility of the 3D printer during the summer before setting it up for public use at the Four Fathers Memorial Library. Now members of the public can bring their 3D files to the library, and for the nominal fee of $1 per hour of printing, can have their requests printed in three dimensions.

“We’ve printed a few things. One Parrsboro gentleman searching for fossils has had his [measuring] scales made,” Four Fathers Memorial Library systems manager Steve Weatherbee said. “We’ve had international students in… a carpenter wanted a specific molding made for a light fixture he was working on.”

The printer has also come in handy for its own sake. Weatherbee was able to download and print a file for replacing a part on the printer that required some adjustments.

Weatherbee admits there has been a disconnect between the public and printing orders because the printer isn’t on public display at the library, but says the reason is for safety and there will be more promotion of the printer this winter.

“It gets hot like a hot glue gun, so safety is a concern, but we’re going to take a week in March to have it on display.”

A day of demonstration will also take place this month, on Friday, Jan. 17th, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Using a 3D printer can either be difficult or simple for the public. The library is not in a position to scan and print custom parts, but with a wealth of online sites offering free “.stl” files, one can surf these resources – like www.thingiverse.com – download a file they are interested in and bring it to the library. For Dr. Who fans, there’s the Tardis saltshaker and coin bank files; flour scoops for the home baker; iPhone amplifiers; shower gel holders and much more to discover.

“We’ve had a 90 per cent success rate with online objects,” Weatherbee said.

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