In April, the Rapides Parish Main Library unveiled their MakerSpace and 3D printing to the community. The Rapides Parish Library is the first in Rapides Parish to offer 3D printing to the public. The Library’s mission is to provide resources to increase education, information and recreation. The Library provides open access to information, technology, and knowledge. While 3D printing, and other MakerSpace technologies have the potential to transform the world, it can be tough for most people to gain access and use these technologies. The Library helps bridge the gap and encourages our community to come together and build things that can’t be found anywhere else.
On May 5th, the Rapides Parish Library began accepting customers’ files for 3D printing. To get started, all you need is an idea and a library card. So how does it work?
A customer has a 3D design they’ve created or modified in one of the many web-based Computer-Assisted Design or CAD applications, (TinkerCAD, SketchUp). There are also video tutorials that accompany most CAD programs that can help you master the basics of 3D design. Any 3D drafting software may be used to create a design as long as the file can be saved in a .stl or .obj file format.
If you do not have access to a home computer with Internet access, the Library has computers that may be used to access the above listed web-based CAD programs. There are also many 3D digital designs available from various file-sharing databases such as Thingiverse: www.thingiverse.com. Most file-sharing databases allow you to modify existing files or share your own design creations with fellow members.
Next, you will go to the Rapides Parish Library website at www.rpl.org and fill out the short request form, then upload your .stl or .obj file. Within a few days, depending on the volume of files waiting to be printed, you’ll come to the Main Library and pick up your printed item. Each printed file costs $1.00 and can be paid with cash or credit card.
The Library’s MakerSpace, follows the STEAM philosophy, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics, and gives customers of all ages access to tools, techniques and hands-on learning experiences that will spark their imaginations and enrich their lives. STEAM skills are vitally important for success in the 21st century and critical to our future.
With the purchase of the two MakerBot fifth generation replicators in phase one of the MakerSpace—made possible through an educational grant from the RoyOMartin Foundation—the Rapides Parish Library hopes to attract new customers to explore the resources and services available to them. The 3D printers have a greater application than creating board game pieces and children’s toys. Applications include design visualization, prototyping/CAD, architecture, education, healthcare and artistic designs. The possibilities are going to be limitless!
For more information on the MakerSpace, and the 3D printing services now offered, contact Faith Johnson at the Rapides Parish Main Library by calling (318) 445-2411 direct extension 1036 or option #2 in the Reference Department. You may also email Ms. Johnson at email@example.com.