What Is a 3D Printer?
A 3D printer is a machine used to fabricate three-dimensional objects. Once an object has been created digitally, the 3D printer software converts ("slices") it into thin horizontal layers. Each layer is printed on top of the previous one using plastic or other materials until the entire object is formed. Watch the video below to see one in action.
Using the 3D Printer
Who can use it?
3D printing is currently available to current Palo Alto College students, faculty, and staff members. Users will be limited to one print per day.
Do I have to pay?
There is no charge for the use of the 3D printer, this may change in the future.
What are the hours?
You can begin a print job any time the library is open and there is a Circulation staff member available to install the extruder and load the filament. Special assistance with using TinkerCAD and 123D Design to create 3D objects is available by request. If you need to leave before your print job is complete, leave your name and contact information with the Circulation Desk so we can notify you that your object is ready.
Print jobs must end no later than 15 minutes before the library closes.
What if the printer is already in use?
Use of the 3D printer is on a first-come first-served basis. If the printer is in use, you can leave your name and phone number on a waiting list at the Circulation Desk. We will contact you when the printer becomes available (it might not be the same day). You will have one hour to return to the library and begin printing before the next person waiting is contacted.
Before using the 3D printer, stop by the Circulation Desk with your PAC ID card. You'll be asked to complete a short form agreeing to follow the guidlines on this page. A library staff member will check out the extruder and plastic filament to your account and help you get started printing. You may NOT bring your own filament. The library provides filament.
The MakerBot Replicator prints using the .stl file format, which most 3D modeling programs are capable of producing. When you open your .stl file on the computer connected to the MakerBot, it will automatically launch the Makerbot application. Please see the document below for more detailed instructions.
- The 3D printer shall not be used to create weapons, or any item that could physically or mentally endanger another person. Suitability will be determined by a member of the library staff.
- Do not tamper with any safety warnings on the machine. The machine can become very hot, do not touch working elements while machine is in operation. Allow the MakerBot to cool before reaching inside.
- While the machine is engaged, do not reach inside or attempt to halt its operation. The MakerBot has moving parts and can cause injury. Should the machine stall or stop during the operation, do not attempt to fix it. The MakerBot is not user serviceable.
- Because the MakerBot melts plastic during the operation, plastic odors will be noticeable.
- Only use materials supplied by the library staff in the MakerBot.
- Never turn off the MakerBot Replicator immediately after completing a print. Always allow the Smart Extruder to cool to 50° C before powering down or removing.
- In case of emergency, unplug the MakerBot.
- No food or drinks will be allowed in the vincinity of the 3D printer.
- Children under the age of 14 are not allowed to use the 3D printer.
Resources to Explore
For more ideas or to find or make .stl files, visit the following.