At the Idyllwild Library, people are going nuts for 3D printing.
Photo by Marshall Smith

Three-dimensional printing is the rage, especially at the Idyllwild Library. “It’s cutting edge and it’s here,” said Shannon Ng, branch library manager. “So many people are interested in it, both young and older patrons of the library. With 3D printing [also called additive manufacturing] you can print food, jewelry with gold and [human] hearts [using bio-printing processes]. There are thousands of jobs opening in this new technology.

“And what better place is there to learn about this new technology than at a library?  And it’s free. This is lifelong learning at its best and has been one of my huge goals as an educator,” she said. 3D printing is being used in tool, clothing, food, car, truck and aircraft design and production, and new uses are constantly being explored.

Ng said it takes a town such as Idyllwild, with many people interested in learning, to appreciate and be open to new technology. “There’s an open-mindedness here and a willingness to try something different. It’s like a college town in that respect.” Ng noted it’s even more impressive that local nonprofits step up to fund this technology for public use at the library.

Altogether, the printer and accessories price out at nearly $5,000, according to Ng. The Pine Cove Property Owners Association has pledged $3,000, the Rotary International of Idyllwild $500, and several other organizations, including Idyllwild Association of Realtors, Soroptimists International of Idyllwild and Friends of the Idyllwild Library are planning to contribute.

In addition to the printer, the library project includes purchasing hand-held microscopes that transmit images to a computer screen to help illustrate the object to be printed, a scanner and two laptops to assist with programming.

“It’s all about exploration,” said Ng. “There are tons of potentials for education in this technology.”