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updated: 1/11/2017 5:58 PM

New 3-D printer inspires creativity at Wauconda Area Library

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  • Operations support technician Brandon Mundschenk demonstrates the new 3-D printer at the Wauconda Area Library. The printer is now available for patron use.

      Operations support technician Brandon Mundschenk demonstrates the new 3-D printer at the Wauconda Area Library. The printer is now available for patron use.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • The Wauconda Area Library's new 3-D printer makes a business card holder. Purchased last year for $1,250, the printer can create small plastic objects.

      The Wauconda Area Library's new 3-D printer makes a business card holder. Purchased last year for $1,250, the printer can create small plastic objects.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Wauconda Area Library operations support technician Brandon Mundschenk holds a jaw to a skull created by the library's 3-D printer. Patrons can design their projects using free software and send the designs electronically to the library through a link on the library website.

      Wauconda Area Library operations support technician Brandon Mundschenk holds a jaw to a skull created by the library's 3-D printer. Patrons can design their projects using free software and send the designs electronically to the library through a link on the library website.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Brandon Mundschenk, an operations support technician with the Wauconda Area Library, demonstrates the library's new 3-D printer.

    Brandon Mundschenk, an operations support technician with the Wauconda Area Library, demonstrates the library's new 3-D printer.
    Courtesy of Wauconda Area Library

  • Video: Wauconda 3-D printer debutes

  • Video: How the 3-D printer works

 
 

Missing a chess piece, checker or game die?

Want to create your own action figure?

Got an idea for a funky-shaped cookie cutter?

Then head to the Wauconda Area Library, 801 N. Main St., where a new 3-D printer can make those items a reality.

Purchased last year for $1,250, the library's LulzBot Mini printer was made available for public use this month. It can create plastic objects that are up to 6 square inches.

So far, patrons' creations have included a Christmas ornament, a decorative skull and a machine part.

"The possibilities are endless," said Brandon Mundschenk, who is an operations support technician with the library and oversees the printer's use. "We're looking forward to seeing what people come up with."

The plastic comes in spools of various colors. It's melted, then extruded into the requested shapes.

If patrons don't like the available colors, the plastic is paintable.

Simple objects can take as little as 20 minutes to produce. More complex items -- such as the scale model of the library Mundschenk designed -- can take weeks.

Patrons can design their projects using free software and send the designs electronically to the library through a link on its website, wauclib.org. They'll be notified when the objects are done.

The library staff must approve a project before printing begins. Weapons or facsimile weapons aren't allowed, nor are objects that violate copyright laws.

Wauconda is the latest suburban library to get a 3-D printer. Others include the Fremont Public Library in Mundelein, the Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library and the Aurora Public Library.

Wauconda library Director Tom Kern believes the printer can attract new patrons.

"It also sends the message that the library is high-tech and cutting-edge," Kern said.

Patrons must be at least 14 to use the printer. They'll also have to pay for the plastic needed to create their object, at a rate of about 10 cents per gram of material.

Most projects will cost between $2 and $5, officials said.

To help acquaint people with what a 3-D printer can do, the library will hold a program called "3-D Printing and You" at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Registration isn't needed to participate.

Additional programs will be held.

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