Monday, April 22, 2024

3D Printing In Libraries Reviewed

Are you intrigued with 3D printing? The 3D printing market has exploded the last few years, but is it reasonable and affordable for consumers to own a 3D printer?

Look no further than your local library! Did you know your local library may provide access to 3D printers for free or at a nominal cost?  An alternative does exist to owning a 3D printer and the use maybe included with your library access (or in many areas, shared access between libraries.)

3D Printing

The possibilities truly are boundless with 3D printing projects. The libraries in my area offer a myraid of 3d printing services and/or use of the printers by patrons or the library staff. Step 1 of 3D printing is to find a design and finding a free and open source design is as easy as visiting a website, choosing the design and uploading the design to your computer, cloud or thumb drive.

Where To Find Open Source (Free) 3D Designs

The three sites I review for free designs are:

Thingiverse (my favorite)


My Mini factory, free and paid designs, niche

The sites are easily searchable and also provide visual examples if a design was made by others. I found this feature especially useful so if a chosen design has been made successfully by multiple users I view this as a possible design to use. The sites are reminiscent of open source software sites of the past, but with 3D printer design files.

I love the variety and imagination of the designs. What a great project this could be for kids and grandkids with an innovative interest: shop for the design, upload the design, visit the 3D maker space to view actual 3D printers and use the printers (depending upon the policies of the library.)

How 3D Printing Works With Library

My local library offers free 3D printing through its' on site Idealab! And the free printing is not just for patron of the library; free to anyone!

The library has a monthly que with a limit of projects. Projects are submitted via email on a google doc form. The Idealab provides 200 kg of filament per monthly project. If the project requires additional filament then the patron can provide the filament per the instructions from the library.

The STL files are uploaded with the google form and the direct link to the files is also provided to the library.

When the project is finished an email is sent from the library and the project is then picked up in the grab n go area of the library. So simple! So easy! So fun!

The majority of large libraries in my area now offer 3D printing: the policies vary per library, but the intent is to provide a service at a nominal if any, cost.

A Few Examples of 3D Printing From The Local Library

Slow Feed Dog Bowl

Painting palette


The MCM table was a special project from the lab. Reservations were required and clearly it was anticipated the project would fill up quickly. Online registration was opened and filled to capacity within minutes.

The tables were printed within approximately one month and ready for pick up from the library. The table was in three pieces, the legs, base and tabletop. All pieces fit together and could be (if desired) reinforced with glue. It took only a few minutes to assemble.

The table below is similar to the table the library printed.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Fascinating! 3D printing is amazing. I purchased a 3D created dragon for our son for Easter and was very surprised by how cool it is. It is rather mind boggling to see the printing process. I'm sure that is how people felt when the original printer was invented. I wonder how long it will take all of us to think of 3D printing as casually as we think of running copies off with ink on paper.

  2. Wow. I had no idea that this was something the average person could do. And through the library? Amazing. Thanks for this introduction to 3D printing in libraries, Tracey.

  3. How very interesting. Thanks for the information.

  4. I had no idea that some libraries now offer 3D printing services! Thanks so much for the heads-up!

  5. I'm with Margaret, I did not know libraries offered 3D printing. Our grandson has a 3D printer, and he has made some amazing things with it over the last couple of years.

  6. Wow, I had no idea that library's provide this service - it makes sense though - knowing our area, I'm presuming there's a charge (but that's ok too)


Most Recent Reviews on Review This Reviews

Search for Reviews by Subject, Author or Title

The Review This Reviews Contributors

SylvestermouseSylvestermouseDawn Rae BDawn Rae BMbgPhotoMbgPhotoBrite-IdeasBrite-IdeasWednesday ElfWednesday ElfOlivia MorrisOlivia MorrisTreasures by BrendaTreasures by BrendaThe Savvy AgeThe Savvy AgeMargaret SchindelMargaret SchindelRaintree AnnieRaintree AnnieLou16Lou16Sam MonacoSam MonacoTracey BoyerTracey BoyerRenaissance WomanRenaissance WomanBarbRadBarbRadBev OwensBev OwensBuckHawkBuckHawkDecorating for EventsDecorating for EventsHeather426Heather426Coletta TeskeColetta TeskeMissMerFaeryMissMerFaeryMickie_GMickie_G


Review This Reviews is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner

We may be apart, but
You Are Not Forgotten

“As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and or Etsy (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from purchases.” Disclosure Statement