3D Printing makes daydreams a plastic reality

At a cost of two hours of classroom time, and 10-cents per gram of plastic used, adventurous Wiltonians may create and build anything in Wilton Library’s new MakerBot 3D printer — as long as it’s smaller than 5.9 x 6.3 x 9.8 inches, of course.

As of early July, the library has been providing workshops and one-on-one training sessions for the newest addition to its Innovation Station, a MakerBot 2x Replicator. After an hour in an introductory group class, and an hour of private instruction, library patrons can become certified users of the MakerBot machine.

“We’re introducing the basics to people, and then they can really start learning about the process [on their own],” workshop instructor Mary Anne Franco said during a class Monday. “We’re going to show you enough so you can come in and use the printer, and that’s a wonderful thing.”

Already, Ms. Franco said, 20 people have taken both the group and private courses and are certified to use the printers.

“The 3D classes are immensely popular,” she said.

The library’s first 3D printer is a consumer-friendly version that is easy and affordable to use, Ms Franco said. It prints all of its items out of plastic, and can use one or two colors at once.

Using spindled cords of plastic about the thickness of yarn, its creations can take anywhere from 20 minutes to multiple hours to finish printing.

During an introductory course Monday, Ms. Franco showed off a number of items created in the past month, including nuts and bolts, bookmarks, bracelets, and even a small bust of Abraham Lincoln.

Each time library visitors use the machine, they are charged based on the amount of plastic needed for a creation. In a print preview mode, patrons will be able to price out their creations before sending them to print.

A bracelet worn by Ms. Franco, for instance, required four grams of plastic to build, and would cost a patron 40 cents to make.

Once library patrons are certified to use the printer, they must make specific reservations to use the machine because some projects may take hours to complete.

The introductory group course, Ms. Franco said, is a good “door-opening class” for those who think they might be interested in learning about 3D printing.

In fact one participant, Chris Edwards of Wilton, told the class he had been waiting to take the introduction class for some time.

“The libraries in New Canaan, Westport, and Darien already have some,” he said.

After a bit of research, he was excited to find Wilton would soon offer the same services.

“I’ve been looking forward to this class for three weeks,” he said.

The final introduction to 3D printing workshop in July takes place today, July 31, from 4 to 5 p.m. at the library.

In August, intro classes are offered on Thursdays, Aug. 7 and 21, and Saturday, Aug. 16.

Classes offering an Introduction to Electronic Sewing will be offered Monday, Aug. 11, 18, and 25, from 11 to noon.

Information: wiltonlibrary.org/innovation-station.