Maker Lab

3D Printing: Frequently Asked Questions

Please be sure to read the Mobile Public Library’s 3D Print Procedures before submitting a 3D print request.

Contact Us!

For all requests and inquiries:

Ben May Main Library: (251)340-1458
Moorer/Spring Hill Branch: (251)494-4140
West Regional Library: (251)340-8561

The type of 3D printing used at the Mobile Public Library is called fused filament fabrication. It involves feeding a strand of 1.75 millimeter plastic filament into a heated extruder or print head. The print head melts and extrudes a thin layer of the plastic filament onto a printing surface. It continues to add layers until the finished item is created.

PRUSA i3 MK3 3D Printer

The Mobile Public Library’s printers use the .stl file format for 3D models. Model files can be downloaded from open-source, 3D sharing communities online, such as Thingiverse and Yeggi, or they can be created with free CAD software programs such as Tinkercad and Sketchup.

Model cost depends on its printed weight. Printed weight may include rafts and supports required to print the model correctly, but are removed when the model is finished printing. Staff members will provide an estimated cost for printing the model before the printing process begins. The library will charge 10¢ for every gram of filament used with a minimum total charge of $1.

Most items take several hours on the print bed to be completed, however the time it takes to fill a print request depends on a number of factors. Print time will vary according to how many items are awaiting their turn in the print queue. The size of a model can play a factor, however density and level of detail are better indicators of print time. Some items require more time in the pre-processing stages before the item even begins to print. There is also always the possibility for problems with the machine. For all of these reasons, we do not guarantee a certain print time. Staff will email when the print model is ready for pickup.

The Prusa i3 MK3 has a maximum build volume of x= 9.8 inches (left to right) y= 8.3 inches (front to back) and z= 8 inches (height). Items can always be designed in parts that are glued or screwed together after printing.

We do not offer 3D Scanning Services at this time. In order for MPL staff to print an item, there must be a 3D image of the item in .stl format.

Patrons are not required to be present while items are printing, however, interested patrons are welcome to set up an appointment time with a designated staff member to view the printing process. Appointment time should be set up prior to arrival time.

The Mobile Public Library accepts cash, check or credit/debit card. After notification of completed 3D print, the item can be picked up and paid for at the Circulation/Checkout desk.

No. A Mobile Public Library card is not required.

Yes. A valid email address is required. MPL will use the provided email as method of contact.