“Let’s Talk 3D Printing” Program Celebrates Library Patron’s Creativity, Ingenuity & Success Using the Berkshire Athenaeum’s 3D Printers!

The Berkshire Athenaeum has been offering programming on 3D Printing to all ages using our 2 Ultimaker 2’s and SeeMeCNC Orion models. On October 25, 2017, The Berkshire Athenaeum and the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum were pleased to host a panel of library patrons who have been exploring 3D Printing via our library’s Self-Guided Program.

Library patrons Thomas Sullivan, Bill Macfarlane, Tim Laporte and Andrew Neiner shared their experiences and projects in a series of individual presentations, and fielded a variety of questions from our excited, engaged audience.

Thomas Sullivan, a local engineer, spoke about coding and 3D Printing topographical maps. During Thomas Sullivan’s presentation (which can be found here), Thomas spoke about how he share his designs on Thingiverse for free and open use. Thomas also referenced at-home projects which include building robots and drone trackers; all of which he creates during his free time.

The Library has a printed Thomas Sullivan’s topographical map of Mount Greylock and of the Hoosac Tunnel (a 3D Printed topographical map of Berkshire County is upcoming!…). We invite you to give these objects a look on line or see them in person at the Reference Desk during your next visit to the library.

Bill Macfarlane, a local Scoutmaster and blogger of “Channeling Whittlin Jim“, shared with us designs of slides and Space Shuttles that he has been 3D Printing and hand painting (shown in slideshow below).

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Bill also shared with us that when designing and researching his Space Shuttle Slides, that he learned that Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space, almost got stuck out there. Bill recounted the story, which we have adapted from Gizmodo’s article for those of you who are unfamiliar:

Once in orbit, Leonov strapped on an EVA (extra-vehicular activity) backpack to his spacesuit. It provided him with just 45 minutes of oxygen, which would allow him to breathe and keep cool; meanwhile, heat, moisture, and carbon dioxide would be vented into space via a relief valve.

Belyayev pressurized the inflatable airlock, which took seven minutes to fully inflate. Everything went smoothly at first and Leonov spent a total of 12 minutes and 9 seconds out on his space walk. He described the experience by saying he felt “like a seagull with its wings outstretched, soaring high above the Earth.”

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and he needed to get back inside the spacecraft before he ran out of air. But getting back inside proved to be a problem.

He maneuvered himself back to the airlock, but then realized that his suit had become incredibly stiff. Due to the lack of atmospheric pressure, it had bloated with oxygen. His feet and hands had pulled away from his boots and gloves, and he knew it was going to be incredibly difficult to get himself back into the ship safely.

There was only one way to do it: wriggle in head-first while bleeding off the oxygen in his suit.

In addition to learning about Leonov’s historical walk in space, Bill shared that this story gave him some insight into his own projects and work. A lesson that Bill learned from this story is that it is important to account for tolerances within one’s design; in other words, to think about how pieces fit together and any extra room that you may need to account for in your project. 3D Printing is taking Bill to all sorts of new universes, and we were more than happy to join him on his journey.

Our third presenter, Tim Laporte of local business Recompute, spoke about how 3D Printing has allowed him to make parts that fit into his larger projects. Tim is working on creating a cart that will help him during his volunteer shifts at Tanglewood in the summer. The yellow pieces featured in the image above are 3D Printed objects such as a custom washer pump power connector. Tim’s washer pump power connector is a custom piece that allows for wires to pass through and plug into a larger object. Tim has also as been printing plugs and rods to keep his cart design together.

We benefited from hearing Tim’s sound advice about being careful about what makers decide to print. The library is using polylactic acid (PLA) material to print which is made from cornstarch, and is a form of plastic. Tim correctly noted that PLA melts at high temps (210*C), and would not be the best material for every project– like car parts (a dream of his!), and correctly noted that there are other materials out there (such as aluminum) which can be used with 3D Printers.

Our fourth and final panelist, Andrew Neiner, shared his experience learning about 3D Printing at the library via our Self-Guided Program. Andrew Neiner, an active Young Adult library patron, shared with us his experience of being scanned and printing a 3D model of himself.


Andrew Neiner’s 3D Printed Model of Himself

He highlighted the importance and value of 3D Printing to his education and growth. Andrew shared an example of a carabiner clip that he designed with the audience and is currently working on lazer show project. Andrew acknowledged that without the library, he would not be able to have access to this exciting technology which encourages him to innovate by himself and with his friends.


Our 3D Printing Panel was amazing! Attendees (45+ people) were encouraged, inspired and had an opportunity to learn from local maker’s, innovators, hobbyists and educators. The Berkshire Athenaeum is proud to promote life long-learning and offer 3D Printers to the public. Thanks to the hard-work and generosity of the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, we able to offer free printing to our community as part of our Self-Guided Program.

We encourage members of our community to get involved! For more questions about our 3D programming opportunities, please do not hesitate to e-mail us (info@pittsfieldlibrary.org) and/or ask us at the Reference Desk.


About Berkshire Athenaeum

We are the public library for the city of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
This entry was posted in 3D Printing, Children's Library, Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, Library Program, Reference, STEAM, Technology, Young Adults. Bookmark the permalink.

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