Cove library shows off new MakerBot Digitizer
By LYNETTE SOWELL Cove Leader-Press “Replicators” aren’t just an element of science fiction anymore. On Monday the Copperas Cove Public Library unveiledits 3D scanner and printer to the public. As a result of a $10,000 Edge Initiative grant it received earlier this year, the library installed two high-end computer workstations for video conferencing, video editing and CAD; upgraded its wi-fi capability; purchase four tablets for checkout by library patrons; and purchased the 3D scanner and printer. Library director Kevin Marsh demonstrated the se of the MakerBot Digitizer, which makes a 3D image of anything up to a five-inch cube in size. After an image is scanned, it can then be printed in a variety of filament colors. On Monday, Marsh demonstrated scanning a rose in bloom, along with a carved stone turtle a patron brought in. The process requires time and patience. Marsh can see a wide variety of practical uses for this kind of technology, not just artistic. “If you need a replacement part for someth ing, you can print it out, make sure it fits before you use it,” Marsh said. Digital technology has advanced to the point where a special 3D printer can replicate a human ear for grafting, and eventually the need for organ donation could be a thing of the past. That’s what 3D printing aficionado Evelyn Nelson says. She, along with her husband, Ron, are new to Copperas Cove and showed up with their 3D printing equipment at the library to provide help as well. “When I found out what the library was going to do, I was so excited,” Evelyn said. She has been involved in exploring 3D printing technology for several years, and teaches technology classes. She is thrilled about what having this technology at the Cove library will mean for local residents. So is library director Kevin Marsh. “After today, I hope we’ll have someone coming in here every day to learn about the technology, people bringing thumb drives with STL files to print,” Marsh said. A year from now, Marsh said he fully expects kids coming in and knowing more about the technology than he does. The library had samplesof printed items on display, to include a 3D dragon that Marsh said took approximately seven hours to print, along with several small three-dimensional puzzles. Those who stopped by could watch a video showing the possibilities of 3D printing use, such as creating prosthetic limbs and even “printing” a concrete house from a design. The printing material the library has is called PLA, a plastic filament,and is purchased by the kilogram. After yesterday’s free demonstration, the library plans to charge for 3D printed items based on size and weight, and keep he printer stocked with plenty of filament. The Nelsons brought their tripod-mounted 3D scanner to demonstrate how the human form can be scanned, using Little Mister Rabbit Fest Azaire Barrett as a model. While most won’t have the expertise the Nelsons have with 3D printing and equipment, Marsh said he invites the community to stop on by the library and get their feet wet with the printer. The library provides a list of websites where designers have already uploaded files of items that can be printed with a 3D printer. Library patrons can bring their own designs on a thumb drive, or use one of the designs online. Marsh said he and the library staff, are also trying out the new technology.