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June 2024

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Mike Barbee Linda Mansell with Questa Public Library’s 3D printer.

Questa Library offers 3D printing services

3D Printing services are now available at the Questa Public Library. Patrons only need a library card and a 3D file to request a real world object.

“We are ready to print simple things requested by the general public,” says Linda Mansell, the lead operator for the library’s printer.

3D Printing, a manufacturing process also known as Rapid Prototyping, is a technology where very thin individual layers of molten plastic are carefully drawn one on top of another, until a three dimensional object is created.

Nearly any object made of plastic can be made with a 3d printer, including wall mounts and adapters, project box cases, small tools, or figurines and models.

Linda monitors the latest object being printed, a structured mess of white plastic deposited to the sound of enthusiastic hums and whistles. “This is a Robert’s Vase that can function as a planter.” Once the print is finished, she will have a sitting human-like sculpture, with a large cup for a head and praying hands.

Files for 3D printing can be either drawn with a CAD program, or downloaded from a repository, such as printables.com, or thingiverse.com, often for free. “It’s pretty exciting, but you’ve got to put it together, ” Linda says, as she prepares a file for printing.

The service debuted at a March 24th event co-hosted by Twirl, a non-profit based in Taos that provides fun learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, and math for kids. This event focused on teaching kids how to take advantage of the new 3D Printing service by finding files on popular 3D printing repository sites, and teaching basics on how to draw their own custom designs.

The main downside to 3D printing is the time it takes to print objects. “Most things take around three to four hours,” Linda says. “Printing time is limited to library operating hours.” Other caveats are that produced parts should not be considered food safe, and the plastic offered is sensitive to heat and sunlight. However there are ways to mitigate these problems, such as painting and casting.

“We look forward to working with local schools, teachers, artists and kids on simple projects.”
Give us a call at (575) 586-2023 or stop by the library during regular hours if you would like to know more!