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SWON News: The Low Down

Seeing in 3D

Thursday, December 4, 2014  
Posted by: Nathan Swartzendruber
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It wasn’t a Cyber Monday deal, but SWON finally bought a 3D printer.

We had discussed the idea for a couple years. What would we use it for? How difficult would it be to get started printing? Which models were worth having, at what price? Who would we show it to, how would we teach it, who would want to borrow it?

Those are fine questions, but they’re very difficult to answer from far off. I’ve heard people ask similar questions before buying their first smartphone. They’re not sure how they would use it or what use is worth over a thousand dollars in fees a year.

Sometimes, with smartphones, it’s a single use case that makes a strong enough case. I have a friend who’s taking a big road trip out west. He needs the smartphone’s GPS so that he doesn’t have to rely entirely on too-small paper maps.

Sometimes it’s just time to take the plunge. I think that’s how we felt. Two other Regional Library Systems in Ohio have bought 3D printers, and libraries have eagerly borrowed them. We have a little more time during winter months for internal projects, so this is a good time to get some hands on.

We bought an Up Plus 2. It’s on the meeting room table in our office, surrounded by test printings and spools of plastic. I’m mostly at home right now, spending time with our newborn baby boy, so it’s been our CE Coordinator Racheal who’s been doing the printing so far, and she is off and running.

Melanie has written more about the experience at the Future of Libraries blog. We’re looking forward to sharing more 3D printing news soon.

  • Nathan Swartzendruber, SWON Technology Educator

Lending in 3D

We’ll be lending the 3D printer out soon, two weeks at a time. SWON’s Supporting Members can borrow the Up Plus 2 (including spools of plastic to print with and a laptop with the necessary software installed) for $20; for Geographic Members, $50.

Soon you’ll be able to borrow the 3D printer, and the other tech SWON has to lend, directly through the website. We’re still setting this up, but once it’s in place, it will be easy to find what equipment we have available and put it to use in your library. More news on this soon!


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