3D Printing @ Brookfield Public Library

Like Hindsdale, Brookfield uses 3D printing as an outreach tool. During the school year we average about 2-3 visits to our local schools. Word has spread so much that we have been getting requests from schools outside our Brookfield school districts. What we do at visits: Visits usually last an hour. The first half we provide a live 3D printer demonstration that lasts about 15 minutes, during which we describe the 3D printing process and provide a bit of history and then leave time for questions–there are usually a ton 🙂 The second half of the presentation, we show students how to create an object using Tinkercad. After a visit to Nazareth Academy’s EPIC Club, club members created a training tool for Staples. The Library has also collaborated with the Brookfield Zoo to introduce 3D printing to local teachers at the Zoo’s continuing education seminar and with Argonne National Laboratory by inspiring one nuclear engineer to purchase a 3D printer (ultimately 3) for his department.


Brookfield also offers 3D printing classes for all ages: kids, teens and adults. When we first launched 3D printing classes to the public (3 years ago) we experienced very high attendance rates. Our adult classes had waiting lists 20 people deep. We also had ‘open labs’ that would have 60 plus people attend every month. One challenge we faced was getting kids younger than 11 involved. We had much demand from families but we struggled with the idea of teaching young kids 3D concepts. Our solution was Family 3D Printing. Families love it. Moms and dads teach their kids (or learn from them) and we get great pictures like the one below. All classes follow a basic outline: live demo with Q&A; brief instruction on Tinkercad, and then let attendees have at it. We have found that the adults want more structure so we have created step-by-step lessons. We are also exploring the idea of theming our classes; for example we will make ornaments in December for the holidays.


We experienced such high demand for 3D printing that we created a 3D Print Club. Members attend, talk shop, and have assignments. In one meeting, members assembled a 3D printer and got it printing. An ongoing Club project is the Club’s involvement with the organization called eNable. The Club recently became certified to print and assemble 3D printed prosthetics. This project has brought people of all ages together. It truly has been a great experience–seeing people from all walks of life come together to make something for the benefit of a stranger. And the Club did everything on their own. I stayed back and let them work.


Don’t have the space? Don’t worry. The Brookfield Public Library is just over 14,000 square feet so we do not have room for a Makerspace. We have our pritner on a cart and it travels around. Printing in an office one hour and then next its on the public floor with a ‘certified’ 3D printing volunteer. Having it on the public floor continues to get the printer exposure as everyday we have people say, “We didn’t know the Library had a 3D printer.” One quick note about our 3D printing volunteers–these are folks from the 3D Print Club that expressed interest in using the printer on their own. I put them through a rigorous training and testing process. Volunteers can print a couple Library prints and then print some of their own objects for free.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. I’m happy to help and, like Ridgeway, happy to come out for 3D demo — Frank Murray: fmurray@brookfieldlibrary.info



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