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3D Printing, Beyond Bunnies

Monday, April 27, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Nathan Swartzendruber
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In the box for SWON's 3D printer sits a broken iPhone case. It was made by the printer, in bright blue plastic, but it's split near the space where you'd plug headphones in. This isn't surprising—the hard plastic used by the printer can't flex enough for the iPhone to squeeze in without splitting—but it is instructive.

That's why I talk about that iPhone case every time I take it to another library. We want people to understand how the printer works, what it does well and what its printed pieces are like. And we hope seeing a 3D printer in action will get people into problem-solving mode.

There are lots of examples of problems that 3D printers have helped solve. Here's a slide-in mount for a smartphone that attaches your phone to a tripod. It doesn't need to flex, so it won't break, and it's very useful for recording videos. Here's a camera-to-telescope adapter for a Sony NEX camera. Attach to your camera's lens mount, slide it onto your telescope, and make amazing photos of the moon.

And here's an HD TV antenna, assembled with the help of a few bolts and screws and ten feet of aluminum wire, that closely resembles our antenna at home at about 1/10th the cost.

I like these projects because they encourage people to do more than print dollar store bric-a-brac. They can help people realize that they could build the solution to their problem. That's a great first step for a 3D printer library program to aspire to take.

  • Nathan Swartzendruber, SWON Technology Educator

3D printing at the Staff Training Symposium

Put on your thinking cap and join us at the Staff Training Symposium for a session on 3D printing. You'll see our 3D printer in action and learn how small errors can take it out of action. You'll get your hands on models we've printed, and together we'll brainstorm to think of problems the 3D printer could help solve.

The Symposium this spring is a nice mix of technical and personal sessions. You can learn about healthy eating on the run and helpful stances on customer service, and pick up some emerging technologies know-how. Join us May 12th for all this and some fun!

Civic hacking and mapmaking

Though there are satellite images of the entire world, it takes people to translate those pictures into maps. Maps are a critical tool when disasters strike. Typhoons, ebola & cholera outbreaks, cyclones, refugees in crisis: these are maps in the process of being made right now through the Humanitarian OpenStreetmap Team.

You can join them! Come to SWON's Level-Up Lab on Humanitarian Mapping, May 6, and Nathan will introduce the simple browser-based software you'll use. All it really takes is attention to detail. Oh, and a laptop (which we have). Let's draw a map together.

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