3D Printing

3D Printing Fun @ The Hive - by David R Beebe
The Hillsborough County Public Library System offers free access to an amazing suite of tools at The Hive located on the 3rd floor of the west building at the John F. Germany Library in downtown Tampa. The Hive is a public makerspace with 3D printers, a CNC router, recording studio, seeing machines and more. We were enticed by the opportunity to use 3D printers with up to 4 hours of free print time each month for each library card.

During the summer months, The Hive is open Monday-Thursday 10AM-9PM, Friday and Saturday 10AM-6PM and Sunday 12:30-5PM.

For 3D printing, The Hive operates a couple of Makerbot Replicator 2 printers that use corn based, non-toxicPLA filament. You can create your own free designs at the web-based tinkercad.com and save them as an .stl file or you can start with existing, creative commons shared designs at thingiverse.com. The Replicator 2 has a print bed of 11" long, 6" wide and 6.1" high.

The Hive offers weekly Tuesday classes on starting with tinkercad but you can also follow their helpful online training. You will also want to download the free desktop application Makerbot (Mac or PC) to see how much printer time your design will require. The application defaults to the Replicator 5 which is slower do make sure you select the Replicator 2 (Devices menu: Select Type of Device) before doing a preview. Once you have saved your .stl file, you email it to thehive@hillsboroughcounty.org along with your library card number and the filament color you want. You can pick from red, blue, green, yellow, black, grey, white, clear, orange, pink, purple, sparkly blue or tan. They will email you when your 3D object is ready to be picked up at the library.

I've heard that by sometime in August, all of the Regional library locations will have 3D printers. I don't believe that they will be Makerbots so you'll need to check with your local library to learn how to best use their printers.