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Librarian in Residence: 3D printing!

By Jessica Green on May 21, 2014

Jessica Green is a book addict and library card holder since the age of 3. She’s a librarian at the Ottawa Public Library and currently the Apartment613 Librarian-in-Residence, sharing a compendium of literary thoughts and tips.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIn April, while on vacation in Paris, I happened upon a 3D printer exhibition at the BHV Marais, the large department store in the area. They had about 12-14 3D printers set up in their observation suite as well as a few spread out all over the store. This was a partnership between the store and Le Fab Shop, the main importer of 3D printers to France. I hadn’t had the occasion to see a 3D printer work live yet, so it was really neat to see the machines crank out shapes in plastic. I particularity enjoyed the cloud shape! (See picture above.)

France will have its first Maker Faire this summer, but we’re very lucky to already have had our own here on Ottawa back in 2013. We also have two places now in the city where you can do 3D printing: There’s Artengine, which for a small membership fee, gives you access to so many cool things that can help make your artistic vision come to life; and here at OPL, we just opened the Imagine Space with the US Embassy in the Nepean Centrepointe branch. I hope to bring you a more up close and personal look at the Imagine Space in a future post!

In anticipation of the opening of this space, many of the branches at OPL have hosted the 3D printer roadshow (and it is still available in a few branches coming up in May). I was lucky to be at Greenboro, my branch, when the 3D printer came through. Luc Lalande from Artengine was the host of one of the printers, and Tessa from the University of Ottawa kept an eye on the other printer. They printed up fun bookmarks for the kids, as well as Minecraft critters and Pokemon.

The reason why 3D printing is so revolutionary is that you can create a seemingly infinite amount of objects out of “thin air” without the need of a manufacturing factory. You have specialised 3D printers that can replicate objects out of metal, plastic, resin or even chocolate. Websites like Thingiverse are places where anyone can download objects created to print out, or upload your designs to share with the larger maker community.

The printing process starts with a digital file, either a scan of an existing object, or one created through a 3D modeling program. You then upload it to a 3D printer which will print out your object in thin layers, which build up to create the object. More complicated shapes require more time to print up and the ones pictured below melt plastic filament down to create these shapes. I found a very in-depth explanation on this website if you want to know more about the nitty gritty of the subject.

Left: 3D printer at work. Right: Plastic replicas made with a 3D printer.

Left: 3D printer at work. Right: Plastic replicas made with a 3D printer.


3D printing also means you’re no longer just a consumer of someone else’s things, but rather someone who creates the ideas that you can print easily at home! You can make replacement parts for machines, a copy of a priceless artifact that can be handled over and over again, or even create new casts that speed healing. It’s a brave new world out there!


Update: For those in the Alta Vista area, Juliann Castell commented on my Little Free Libraries post saying they have installed a little free library on Featherston Drive! Check out the Facebook page here or the webpage here.

Quick Picks:

The Once and Future World by JP MacKinnon : A really interesting read from the one of the authors of the 100 Mile Diet. The subtitle of “Nature as It Was, as It Is, as It Could Be” really sums up the book which looks at how we see nature, whether what we deem as natural is actually that, and differing approaches to conservation.

A Burnable Book by Bruce W. Holsinger: A lovely medieval conspiracy involving Chaucer, a book and plots to kill the king of England. If you like intricate plots with mystery, you’ll enjoy this read.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon: Paige, the main character and special clairvoyant, does get sent to prison in the dystopian London where she learns about the beings from another reality that harness the powers of these clairvoyants to fight against another set of beings that will end the world. It’s an interesting story, but part one of seven, so will it stay interesting??? I’ll await the sequel…

Announcement: The Library Association of the National Capital Region (LANCR) presents Library as Space:  A panel discussion.

Join in for a timely and innovative discussion surrounding the theme Library as Space. Our panel, comprised of a planning librarian, an architect, an elementary school principal, a newcomer and a web librarian, will share their library experiences and comment on the varied functions of library spaces within our communities. A portion of the proceeds will be given to Twice Upon a Time, an organization providing new or gently-used books to families in Ottawa. Snacks will be provided.

The discussion takes place on Monday May 26th (6:20 pm) at the Main branch of the Ottawa Public Library, corner of Laurier and Metcalfe, room B125 (in the basement). Tickets are $10 for members, $12 for non-members. Please RSVP at