PEI

P.E.I. libraries make 3D printing accessible to Islanders

Some of P.E.I.'s public libraries are hoping to enable Islanders of all ages to get creative with 3D printers. 

Printers will be available for Islanders to use at 6 of P.E.I.'s libraries

Roseanne Gauthier, youth services librarian with P.E.I.'s Public Library Service, is excited to see what Islanders come up with in using the service's new 3D printers. (Sam Juric/CBC)

P.E.I.'s Public Library Service is hoping to enable Islanders of all ages to get creative with 3D printers. 

As of Friday, Islanders are able to visit public libraries in Charlottetown, Kensington, Montague, Stratford, Summerside and Tignish to use the 3D printers — for a small fee. 

To cover material costs, people will be charged a $2 service fee, plus 10 cents per gram of their finished products.

Until now, the 3D printers were only available to the public through the library's special summer programming. 

A few examples of projects that have already been made during some of the library's summer programming. (Sam Juric/CBC)

"It's really great to see people who don't think of themselves as technologically-minded step out of their comfort zones," said Roseanne Gauthier, youth services librarian.

"I think they surprise themselves in a good way." 

The intention to make 3D printing accessible to Islanders has been in the works since last winter, Gauthier said. 

Accessibility 

"As you can imagine a 3D printer is not necessarily a piece of equipment that everybody is going to be able to go out and purchase themselves, but it is something that does create a lot of interesting projects," she said. 

Depending on the size of your project, printing could take between 30 minutes and a few hours, Gauthier said. 

"Unfortunately it isn't exactly like that replicator on Star Trek. It does take time to load the file onto the printer and then it takes time to make sure everything's calibrated and everything's loaded properly," she said. 

"For most people, we're guessing, the average print job would probably be a few hours." 

Gauthier said the printers use a plastic filament, which is fed through the machine to print various objects.

"People can bring in their own files to be printed, but at this point in time they can't bring in their own filament," she said.

"The reason behind that is that the plastic filament that we're using in our printers is actually kind of the basic plastic filament that's available for 3D printing." 

She said plastic filament is the least hazardous material that is available to be used for 3D printers. It's the least likely to release harmful particles or gases.

Guidelines

Gauthier said each printer cost about $300 and were purchased with the help of Brilliant Labs, which partnered with P.E.I.'s Public Library Services to launch the initiative. 

Gauthier takes the 3D printer out for a spin. (Sam Juric/CBC)

While library staff are hoping the printers will encourage people to play and think creatively, Gauthier said, guidelines of what can be printed have been set. 

"We won't print weapons, sexually explicit materials or anything that's copyrighted," she said. 

The library service looked to other libraries that had already introduced 3D printers to help develop the printing guidelines for P.E.I.'s libraries, Gauthier said.

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About the Author

Sam Juric

Reporter

Sam Juric is a digital reporter with CBC Sudbury and can be reached at samantha.juric@cbc.ca.

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