3D Printing at the Library

  • 3D Printer

    3D Printer

Sonoma County Library is developing a program to make 3D Printers and classes part of our commitment to providing our residents with access to a variety of technologies in order to acquire new skills, explore new possibilities, and make informed consumer decisions with technology.

To schedule a 3D printing appointment at your local branch, call or visit to see what services are currently being offered.



What is 3D printing?

3D printing is the process of making a physical object from a digital model. With a 3D printer, library patrons can create 3D models by using computer software to build an exact replica of that model in plastic. Putting it simply, you draft an idea beginning with a sketch and finish with a 3D physical object. The process teaches accuracy, three-dimensional thinking, and working within the design constraints of the 3D printer.

How does it work?

3D Printing is also known as additive manufacturing because the physical model is built up one layer at a time. Our 3D printers use PLA (short for Polylactic Acid) Filament, which is a biodegradable thermoplastic polymer made from plant starch. The filament comes on a spool and is fed through a heated extruder nozzle. Computer controlled motors move the nozzle around to create the shape of your object one layer at a time from the bottom up.

What are some practical uses of 3D printing?

There are many practical applications for 3D printing in aerospace and automotive engineering to prosthetics and other medical and science uses. 3D printing enables rapid prototyping of design concepts and functional, working models. It is used for low volume, custom, or on-demand manufacturing.

How do I prepare for my printing appointment?

Bring your design on a flash drive saved as a .stl file.

Files are readied for printing at the library in Cura Lulzbot Edition which allows us to preview the print job and estimate how long the print will take. Sometimes we might need to work with you to adjust the model in such a way that will allow it to be printed in the time frame available.

What is the cost of printing?

3D printing at the library is offered free of charge.

Do I need to be at the library while my object is printing?

You may need to be present at your 3D printing appointment to discuss the design. Library staff and volunteers will get your print started. To learn how to create designs, we can provide you with a list of helpful tutorials. You can stay for the length of your print, or check in with your print periodically.

Does the library have a 3D Printing Policy?

The Library Commission adopted the following 3D Printing Policy on 12/03/2018.



You can get started with 3D design right now! You don’t need to know CAD (computer-aided design) to make and 3D print awesome 3D models; all you need is a computer with internet access and a little time to go through a free online tutorial, and you can start dreaming up your design. 

Where can I learn how to make 3D designs?

Here are some free design programs we suggest:

Where can I find ready-made 3D printed object designs?

Links to 3D printing collections:

  • Thingiverse – online repository of shared 3D ready-to-make designs. Check comments because not all designs print correctly. Downloads .stl files for 3D printing:  www.thingiverse.com

    You Imagine —over 14,000 open source designs that are ready to print: https://www.youmagine.com/


Does the library have books to help me?

Yes we do! Ask a librarian for help, or search the catalog under subjects:

We have added many new titles to our collection to inspire you to dream up new designs and learn about CAD design to bring your dream design to life.

The Sonoma County Library is able to offer 3D Printing services thanks to Measure Y.

3D Printing at the Library News