3-D Printing in Libraries: Putting Your Misprints to Work!

Let’s face it, even the most carefully maintained 3-D printer will suffer misprints. In the past, I’ve muttered some choice words before throwing the offending object out. “What a waste,” I thought. Happily, there’s another way! Enter the “3-D Printing Swear Jar!”

Rather than depositing them directly in the garbage, I now collect these misprints and later put them to work demonstrating concepts like infill percentage and supports. I use them in 3-D printing classes to conduct “autopsies” where we try to discover what went wrong–was it a poor design or did the printer get bumped?

Believe it or not, your patrons often find these partially finished or even mangled prints to be of interest. I’ve been asked by folks of all ages if they can take home a stray strand of filament–scoring a half printed octopus is a real prize! Before throwing anything out, simply put it in a bin near your 3-D printer with a sign that says “take one.” If your printer isn’t located on the public floor, choose a high traffic area like your reference desk or circulation.

As a final option, your land of misfit prints can find a home in a makercraft. Maker programs are always starving for consumables–repurposing some ruined filament is a great way to save some money and maximize your investment in a 3-D printer.

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