3D Printing Policy

3D Printing at the East Providence Public Library

The East Providence Public Library currently maintains a Flashforge Creator Pro 3D printer. Patrons may either attend the Fuller Creative Learning Center’s drop-in 3D print class to see a demonstration of how the printer operates or submit files to be printed and then picked up at a later time. Before printing, we require that you read and sign our East Providence Public Library 3D Printing Policy agreement before using the printer to make an object.


What is 3D Printing?
3D printing is the process of making a three dimensional object from a digital file. The object is created by laying down successive layers of plastic material on top of each other until the print is created.

You begin by creating a virtual design on a computer. Software is then used to slice the designed object into hundreds of horizontal layers. The design is sent to the 3D printer where hot plastic is passed through a super-heated nozzle and laid down layer by layer via a robotic arm. The plastic cools off within a few seconds, so the finished object can be used right away.

If you want more information, visit 3DPrinting.com.

How do I create or find a design?
There are 3 methods for obtaining 3D designs for printing:

  • Download: many designs can be found online, copyright-free, for personal use.  A good website to check out is Thingiverse.
  • Scan: You can take an object that already exists and scan or digitize it to obtain the right dimensions for a 3D replica.  (We do not currently own a digitizer here at the library.)  There are also apps that enable you to take multiple photographs of an object to make a 3D file, such as 123D Catch.
  • Make your own: Many people use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create their own objects for printing.  Some commercial software is very sophisticated, but free online software such as Tinkercad can get you started on the concepts of 3D design.

How long does it take to print a design?
Longer than you might think.  If an object has many layers or a complicated structure, it can take hours to print.  Simpler, flatter designs can be finished in as little as 5 minutes.

How do I use the library’s 3D printers?
If you are just starting out with 3D printing, it is best to attend one of our 3D printing drop-in events to learn about 3D printing or downloading files. We will eventually have design classes.

What if I just need my design printed and don’t have time for training?
If you have a design ready and just need it printed, you can submit your design .stl file to be printed. Before printing, you must first read and sign our East Providence Public Library 3D Printing Policy agreement. Children under the age of 14 must have their parent or guardian sign the policy in-person with a library staff member. You may email your design .stl file and signed policy to fullercreativelearning@gmail.com or drop a printed copy off at the Fuller Creative Learning Center. We will accept .stl files via USB drives.

What if I need help with designing or troubleshooting my design?
Library staff are available for printing assistance only. We hope to have design classes in the future.

How much do you charge for a 3D print?
Currently we do not charge for 3D printing, but will re-assess this policy by January 2, 2019.

How long will it take for me to get my design printed? What if I have a deadline?
Usually the process of 3D printing requires troubleshooting, whether that be from errors with the design or repair of the printer, which is why the library cannot guarantee that a design will be printed by a certain date. We will do our very best to have the design printed in a timely manner.

How large can my design be?

Files can be no larger than 15 MB and must be submitted as .stl files. We cannot print a file over 3 hours long. In regard to proportions, the design must be able to fit on the 3D printer’s platform, so it must be under 9 inches high and 5 inches wide for our Flashforge printer.

Are there any design rules for 3D printing?
3D printing does not do well with “overhangs.”  Each layer of a 3D model needs a base layer below it, so the machine will have a hard time printing something that hangs out into space, like the brim of a cowboy hat.

How many designs can I have printed?
You may submit one file per week. Please keep in mind though that there may be other patrons ahead of you for printing and that the library cannot guarantee that the design will be printed by a certain date.

What if I have a large project with many files?
The 3D Printing service we offer is experimental and geared toward instructional learning. Since we can only accept one file per week per patron, our service cannot accommodate mass manufacturing or large projects.

You can contact the Fuller Creative Learning Center by calling 401-228-3903 or emailing fullercreativelearning@gmail.com.