IT’S a challenging concept to get your head around, and you really have to see it to believe it, but now Tamworth residents can get up close and personal with the latest in cutting-edge technology.
Tamworth Regional Library’s new 3D printer – or the Makerbot Replicator 2 to its friends – made its Tamworth debut yesterday, creating a lot of interest among library visitors.
It made its debut in Nundle at the opening of that village’s new library late last year where library services manager Kay Delahunt said school students were enthralled.
And when you see it making its 3D models – everything from bracelets to chain links – you can understand why.
They’ve been around for about 30 years, but just recently units have come on the market that make them far more accessible for home and business use, starting at $2000.
Instead of using ink, a 3D printer melts plastic powder (as does the one at the library) or metal thread and extrudes material in successive layers to create a three-dimensional object according to a digital design file.
Mrs Delahunt said the library had decided to purchase one in the interests of education.
“A library is about discovery and discovering new technology, so one of these gives people the chance to see that new technology in action,” she said.
The library’s Marian Bennett said it got people thinking about all the possibilities with technology.
The printer at the library was creating a length of chain links when The Leader arrived, taking about nine minutes to make about six links, joined together but all moving independently.
It has also made bracelets, combs and a nut and bolt, that screw together seamlessly.
Ms Bennett said they were using the basic design files that came with the printer, but depending on the size of the machine, the sky’s the limit.
Download a design and away it goes – a printer even producing the shoes models wore for one of the shows at last year’s Paris Fashion Week.
To see the library’s printer in action, keep an eye on its Facebook page, where dates and times will be posted.