3D printers on campus can produce anything from phone stands to whistles

One of the library's three 3D printers printing an owl bookmark during a demonstration. Photo credit: Fiona Campbell

Ever wanted to print your own key chain, whistle, phone stand or Monopoly piece?

You’re in luck, the library’s 3D printers are ready for use and available to all Durham College and Ontario Tech students.

The campus library has three 3D printers on its main floor, which can be accessed through the library’s website or front desk. It is the only 3D printing service on campus which is available to all students regardless of program.

Students can submit their own designs or pre-made designs on Durham College’s or Ontario Tech’s library websites.

They first need to fill out a 3D print request form asking questions like what the item is for and approximately how big it will be.

Printing through the library costs $1.50 an hour.

“We are charging for the price of the materials only,” says librarian Kate Gibbings, one of the people who oversees the printers.

All help with designs and adjustments are free to students, she stresses.

Students can book a consultation request for help choosing or changing a design.

“I’ve actually never rejected a design,” says Gibbings.

She works with students to keep their design realistic and printable. She carries a bin of example pieces to help students visualize possibilities. Among the examples are a skeleton, a pumpkin and a dragon.

“We choose fun ones for examples,” she says.

As long as students are learning, Gibbings is pleased to help.

The printers use a Polylactic Acid (PLA) filament plastic made from corn starch to print each layer of the object one by one. The more layers an object has, the longer it takes to print, she says.

Thingiverse is a popular website with thousands of 3D printing designs, which Gibbings recommends students use to find pre-made designs.

Ian Chen, an adult student in Contemporary Web Design at Durham College, is using Thingaverse to see if he can find a Nerf Gun attachment for his son.

“I thought I could print it instead of buying it,” he says.

Gibbings helps him through the process and they land on a sword instead.

Printing is the final step. When his design is ready for pickup, Chen will be notified by email to get it at the library front desk.

Students can only pay for designs in cash at the front desk. No more than 10 of the same design per person is allowed, says Gibbings.

Students can use the printers for projects or just for fun, she says.

The printers are available all year round.