The library has been one of the essential factors behind the heightened popularity of 3D printers. This fact is backed by data from Google Maps, which shows more than 800 3D printers in libraries found across the globe.
This number might be greater since Google Maps only shows the figures from English-speaking nations such as Australia and the UK plus the United States.
It’s projected that the number of 3D printers in Chinese libraries may be three to five times greater than in the US or any other English-speaking country. In addition to this, libraries in the different parts of Europe, as well as South America nations, most likely provide 3D printing serveries.
What’s The Reason For Increased Popularity of 3D Printing Services In Libraries?
3D printers are costly, and as a result, not many can afford them. It’s this gap in the market that libraries across the globe are looking to address. This is mainly because the libraries’ goal is known to be wanting the provision of equal access to knowledge and information.
But due to the expensive nature of 3D scanning, 3D printing, and other Maker Space technologies, not everyone gets to enjoy the vast benefits it has to offer. There also isn’t enough knowledge and information on how best to use 3D printing technologies effectively. Due to these gaps, 3D printers have become a popular sight in public libraries to try and close down the gap.
Libraries are also developing a plan for the future by starting to have 3D printers installed. This is because there’s been a continuing increase in the diminishing insignificance of physical books. Therefore, libraries will need to think of other creative ways of remaining relevant, instead of overdependence on physical books.
This has consequently led libraries to start creating their own content thanks to 3D printing technology. As a result, libraries can now create content that is unique to them and isn’t found anywhere else. This is achieved by encouraging the community to join hands and create something which isn’t available anywhere else.
Libraries for decades have acted as the places where communities meet to share information and ideas. For this reason, public libraries opted to incorporate 3D printers to allow these persons to share their thoughts about this futuristic technology. By doing this, these individuals get to learn from each other and might make a unique discovery that’s not been unveiled anywhere across the globe.
What Can 3D Printers Achieve?
There are many captivating applications of 3D printers, from making handguns, prosthetic limbs to figurines. The common materials used during 3D printing are polylactic acid (PLA) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). Usually, the structures and objects you can print using materials that aren’t plastic are varied.
An excellent example of this is a San Diego company using human cells to make the human liver, and a Shanghai-based firm using quick-dry cement to print a ten-story house.
How Are Libraries Using 3D Printers?
What’s the goal behind libraries embracing the use of 3D printers? Well, it’s straightforward in that libraries want to be at the forefront in assisting everyone of different ages in building their competencies and skills to survive in this increasingly technological world.
Libraries are playing a vital role in the society’s digital transformation as well as enhancing its reputation as a center of digital leadership. Therefore, many people can now take advantage of this innovative technology to launch business ventures, participate in creative learning, and solve complicated health concerns.
For instance, a man from Chattanooga used the 3D printer available in a public library to design a robotic gadget that enables his kid born, who was born without legs or arms, to have a mean independently.
Also, a Boy Scout in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, used the 3D printer in Allen County Public Library to print resin wheels to be used by his robot team. Another inspiring story is that of a nine-year-old boy using a 3D printer in the Johnson County Public Library in Kansas to make a functioning prosthetic.
Are There Any Legal Implications of Libraries Having 3D Printers?
The use of 3D printers goes beyond making non-artistic and artistic objects. Because of this, you must understand any possible intellectual property issues that may arise when using 3D printers. By doing this, you’ll be able to expand your perspective beyond copyright. You should also factor in design patent, patent, trade dress, plus trade secret.
With the increasing popularity of 3D printers in public libraries, another issue that pops up is a security concern. This is primarily so due to the rising number of persons who can now make and market sophisticated and possibly dangerous products.
Some 3D printed products that get unveiled to the market will also be defective, thereby causing consumer injury. If this happens, librarians need to know who’ll be held responsible for these injuries to this innocent user due to an object made using their 3D printers.
In such situations, the liability might fall either on the:
- The programmer who put down the coding for the product’s design
- The company that manufactured the 3D printer
- The inventor or hobbyists who created and sold the 3D printed object
The question that arises in such a scenario is, should libraries be held responsible? This is something that’s yet to be decided by the courts to determine the extent of liability by the library. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to predict the degree of product liability or intellectual property disputes in the future arising from 3D-printed objects.
With that said, libraries worldwide should continue offering access to 3D printers to members of the public. These devices are invaluable education, entrepreneurial, and creative tools that play a crucial role in our society’s future.
The role public libraries have played in making 3D printers accessible to everyone can’t be understated. If you didn’t know the significant role the library plays, reading through the in-depth article has undoubtedly proved you wrong. Therefore, whenever you’re hoping to use a 3D printer, head over to your local library and explore your creativity.