by Connor Kennedy – Part-Time Librarian at Ives Main Library

Hey there NHFPL Community! As you may know, the library provides even more than your next fun read, engaging and thought-provoking programming, or a gateway to what seems like never-ending information via the internet. We also offer a hub where creative minds could work to bring their ideas into reality.  

One does not need to look much further than the front entrance of the Ives Main Library. As soon as you enter the large doors on Elm Street, looking to your right, you will see the relatively new (and ever improving) Ives Squared space. In here, you will find the Exchange, where entrepreneurial minds collaborate and grow (perhaps the topic of a future post) and the Tinker Lab, which contains a treasure trove for creators, no matter your skill set. Recently, I sat down and learned the ins and outs of the library’s 3D printer, so I shall go over my recent (by no means expert) experience with the printer and why it can be an exemplary library resource that can turn your dreams into reality. 

First, before anything is sent to the printer, there is Tinkercad. Tinkercad is a web-based 3D modeling program that enables the user to design various objects that can later be printed. When first introduced to the program, there are numerous tutorials for you to utilize.  Between these tutorials and the lessons provided by the extremely helpful Ives Squared staff members (details of such lessons can be found on the NHFPL website), even someone as inexperienced as myself can acclimate to using the software within a few hours. In order to challenge myself I chose not to print a premade design (which is an option in Tinkercad of course) but to combine several shapes to make my own cup with a handle. 

An example showing layout on Tinkercad and the cup that was created in orange.
An example of the layout on Tinkercad, along with some of the basic shapes being used. 

After toying with Tinkercad for just a little while, using skills that I picked up from both Ives Squared training and a few of the TinkerCad tutorials, I was then able to make my digital creation a reality. I then sent my project to one of the library’s two MakerBot stations. The MakerBot 3D printer then constructs my design using heated PLA filament. Though the process takes several hours, all I need to do once I send the job to the printer is patiently wait as the printer’s extruder goes back and forth.  After waiting around the building, I now have in my hands a physical, 3D version of something that was merely a digital design hours ago.  

The MakerBot Replicator+ on its shelf in Ives Squared
The MakerBot 3D printing machine (one of two), located in the Ives Squared space at the downtown Ives Main Branch. 
Connor holds the final 3D print of the cup made with orange filament.
I now have a cup! Will I drink out of it? Probably not, but it will make a fantastic pen holder. 

Though I am extremely proud of my unique, yet ultimately simple cup, I will obviously be honing my skills on the 3D printer in the weeks to come. Additionally, keep in mind that the 3D printer is but one of the resources that the library has for creative minds. For example, we also have a laser cutter, vinyl cutter, carving machine, vacuform, and several sewing machines, among other offerings for creating physical objects. However, there are also some great resources for those creating digital products as well, such as Adobe Creative Cloud software (Photoshop and Illustrator). So here is to hoping that you, like me, make a foray into Ives Squared and discover what can make a reality at the NHFPL. 

If you are interested in learning how to operate any of the Ives Squared equipment, be sure to visit the Ives Squared webpage on the NHFPL’s website.