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3D Printing at GEPL

Category: Where The Child Things Are
Posted: April 12, 2018

By: Christina Keasler, Youth Technology Librarian

If you’ve been to the library since the Youth Department remodel, you might have noticed our two 3D printers are featured in a fancy display case. If you haven’t, I’d like to introduce you to the library’s two 3D printers: Eugene and Gertrude.

One of two 3D printers in Youth Department.


One of two 3D printers in Youth Department.

Eugene has been at the library since 2012. He’s older, but also faster at printing. Library staff have to be very careful when printing with him. If you forget one step, he’ll clog up!

Gertrude is newer to the library. She’s a little slower than Eugene, but a little more careful with details. Don’t tell Eugene, but Gertrude is a little smarter, too.

There are a lot of different types of 3D printing in the world. Our printers use Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), which is a fancy way of saying that it lays down, or deposits, material that quickly fuses together to make a model. FDM printing works kind of like a giant glue gun. The material is cool, fed into the extruder, which heats up the filament to 215 degrees Celsius, and lays the filament in a goo-like consistency in the pattern laid out by the computer design. The printer repeats this process layer by layer, higher and higher, until the design is complete.

3D printing is more than just making toys and trinkets. It originally started as a professional device used primarily by architects and engineers. Just like other technology, the devices got smaller and cheaper until the desktop 3D printer was born.

While students in Glen Ellyn make original gifts for parents and teachers, adults use our printers ,too. Submissions from adults include discontinued parts for items used around the house and items that just make life easier. Some of these projects already exist, like broom clamps and iPad wall fixtures. Others were created or improvised — and sometimes patented! The library has printed designs for school projects, replaced (or created) supplies for board games, and pieces of replicas for local museums. Of course, we still get a lot of trinkets and gifts, too.

Interested in making something yourself? The easiest way to get started is to make an account on Tinkercad. It’s free and easy to use 3D design software. They have extensive tutorials to help you navigate, regardless of your previous skill level. Once you’ve created something, download your file in .stl format, and send it to We’d be happy to process your print or help you along the way. Be on the lookout for our 3D Open Labs at the library as well.

We can’t wait to see what you create!

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