Class Report

3D Printing From Idea to Creation

Teacher: Adam Schaeffer, library associate (far right)
Documentarian: Matty Greene
Location: Digital Commons at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
Dates: Oct. 9 and 16, 2014

See more photos of this class on Flickr!

What was the take-home message of the class?
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, works by taking a computer-generated model and printing it in hundreds or thousands of layers of plastic or other materials. The technology is allowing people to do amazing things — rapid prototyping and bio printing, to name just two. The future is here.

What did you learn that you can put into practice immediately?
Anyone with access to a computer can design an object. In class, we used Tinkercad, a free modeling program. The objective was to design body parts for a (non-functional) robot. Each team was in charge of a segment — head, arms, legs, etc. Adam showed us how to take the final designs and convert them into .stl files. From there, we could print our designs with the MLK Library’s 3D printers.

The robot to which the class added a third dimension.

What can people read/watch for more information on this topic?
There’s tons of information about 3D printing online. Try this blog post from the Department of Energy. And check out all the 3D printing and scanning classes at MLK Library’s Digital Commons.

Anything else fun you’d like to tell future students of this class?
The tools to design 3D printed objects are available to anyone with Internet access. We’re very lucky to have 3D printers for the public to use via D.C.’s public library system.

3D printing isn’t going away. Mastering it is your chance to be part of a manufacturing revolution in the U.S. and abroad.

Matty Greene is a native Austinite and passionate film producer/photographer. When she’s not making online videos for work — be it producing a video about manufacturing the American flag or filming fourth graders installing solar panels on their classroom roof — you can find her playing ukulele, working on 3D printing, or taking a Knowledge Commons DC class.