FAQs for 3D Printing at Calvert Library
3D printing is the process of creating a physical object from a digital model. It is also known as additive manufacturing because the physical model is built one layer at a time from the bottom up. 3D printing provides an opportunity for everyone to take an idea from their imagination, design it, and create a physical model. Calvert Library is actively building a community environment that nurtures creativity while stimulating and supporting learning and innovation.
LulzBot Mini at Calvert Library Prince Frederick
LulzBot Mini at Calvert Library Southern Branch
- Filament options: PLA (Polyactic Acid-derived from renewable plant-based starches) or HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) Calvert Library has a limited number of colors of each type of filament.
- Number of colors per print: 1
- Maximum print size (inches): 6(w) x 6.2(h) x 6(d)
To print an object, provide us with your .stl file on a flash drive. Files can be no larger than 250 MB. Flash drives are available for purchase at every library. We will download your file to our computer and return the flash drive to you.
We are defining a misprint as a bad print that is the fault of the machine, a power outage, etc. We will reprint these at no charge. Otherwise, if the printer did complete the print as designed, you will be charged for the print.
You will notice on the form that we are asking about the origination of the object file: was it downloaded or did you create it on your own. If you have downloaded the file from Thingiverse (or another site), please review the page for how many successful prints are recorded and the comments. If there are many comments listed that point to many unsuccessful prints, you may want to look for another version of that object that has positive comments or successful prints. If there are no successful prints or the comments are overwhelmingly negative, you may still print this item at your own risk.
If you have created your own object file, you will be responsible for the cost of the print regardless of the success of the print. This includes files that have been downloaded and modified and prototype objects that require multiple prints until the design is perfected.
For general applications, you should use the PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) filament. For items that may require greater strength or may be subjected to higher temperatures (the inside of a car or dishwasher), use the HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) filament.
We recommend that if any of your printed items will come into direct contact with food, use plastic wrap or aluminum foil as a barrier between food and the plastic. While PLA filament is listed as safe for direct contact with food, it is still fairly porous and fully cleaning/disinfecting the item can be difficult.
3D printing pricing is based on the weight of the object in grams at a cost of $.25 per gram, rounded up to the nearest gram, plus tax. The software that is used to create the print file for the printer will provide an estimate of the final weight of the object in grams. This weight includes any supports necessary to print the object. We will provide you with the estimate prior to printing.
Our printer prints in layers, from the bottom up, and each layer must be supported by something beneath it. If part of a model has nothing beneath it, like the wings of an airplane, the printer has to print supports beneath that part. Brims are used to stabilize small parts or isolated sections of the model that need help staying connected to the print bed. A raft is a horizontal latticework located underneath your print to help stabilize models with small footprints if you need a stronger foundation that can be provided by a brim. Prior to printing, staff will review the print job with the customer to show them how the printer is interpreting their file—this includes pointing out potential problems and where supports or brims may be necessary.
Library staff is not responsible for removing any supports, brims, or rafts. The support material can be carefully removed using X-ACTO knives and needle nose pliers. If you are interested in more advanced finishing techniques, we suggest the following resources: Finishing and Post-Processing Your 3D Printed Objects How to finish off your 3D Print
Printing will be first-come, first-served and as staff is available. Your file will be placed in the queue in the order it was received. Printing time varies based on the size of the object. Small objects can take less than an hour, while large projects can take five or more hours. We do retain the right to reorder the queue based on printing times and staff availability. Library staff will print your file and notify you when it is ready to be picked up and paid for. If the item is not picked up within two weeks, the object will become the property of the library.
Calvert Library staff can direct customers to online resources, however, we will not be assisting in the design of customer models. Staff will not modify or change models once submitted. If you decide that you want to increase/decrease the size of your model once seeing it in the printer software, you will need to re-work the object in the software used to create the object.
We will print your object as soon as we can. There are a number of factors that can affect how long it will take us to print your object. There could be other people ahead of you, and their object print times could vary from 1 – 10 hours. We also conduct programs with this printer, so it may be in use to support a program. We do reserve the right to adjust the queue to most efficiently print items. We may have times where we move a shorter print job ahead of a longer job because it will complete before the end of the day or before a program. We ask that you try to keep your print times to less than 10 hours. This way we can complete the print job during our regular weekday hours.
You do have the option to select the color used for your print. However, we have a limited number of colors and, due to cost, cannot purchase filament colors for specific print jobs.