Theresa Dillon, InfoDesk Team Lead at the MITRE Corporation, described how 3D printing was used to redefine the MITRE library. InfoDesk Services is the first point of contact for answers to research questions and document delivery. Here is a photo of the library at MITRE’s Bedford, MA location.
The open environment of the library encourages collaboration.
3D printers arrived in August 2014. Some staff wondered why 3D printers belong in the library:
The 3D printing service is self service on a first-come first-served basis. There is no cost to users. 3D printing is for work-related uses; weapons or objects covered by copyright are not allowed to be printed. To get started, you need a printer, some filament, and tools. Here is a photo of the library’s installation.
Some things the printer has been used for:
Marketing and promotion of the 3D printer consisted of display screens, signage, employee news articles, demos, social media, and displays of 3D printed objects. Professional 3D printers produce higher quality objects than consumer desktop models. Here are some of the things that have been printed:
The printer has sparked lots of conversation, with a positive reception. It has brought awareness of InfoCenter spaces and InfoDesk services. Clients have been brought to the InfoCenter to see the printer. The printer has been a success for the InfoCenter. People are very excited about the collaboration and the problem solving. Downsides are that the device needs maintenance and is often down, printing can be slow, and some people need a lot of of instruction and help.
things to consider when setting up a 3D printing service:
- Safety: ventilation is needed because fumes are generated.
- Noise: the printer can be noisy
- There is a lot of market volatility resulting in a lot of churn.
- Downtime must be planned.
- Intellectual property: objects can be covered by copyright. Liability can be against the person making the object.
From the user’s perspective, here are some important considerations :
The more plug & play the better.
Common problems include extruder clogging, curling, surface quality, poor extrusion, filament tangling, power outages. People’s expectations must be tempered. Have some backup extruders for when they’re clogged. Sometimes jobs must be left running overnight, so when a filament tangles and breaks, the job will fail.
3D printers have elevated the credibility of the InfoDesk and have improved it in the eyes of management. They are helping them to meet non-library users and are an exciting addition to their services.
What’s next at the InfoDesk:
Conferences to follow: MakerCon, 3D Printer World, Consumer Electronics Show
3D model repositories:
Free 3D modeling programs: