10th October 2016 | News

Budding inventors, creators, aspiring entrepreneurs and enthusiastic hobbyists will soon be able to turn ideas into reality at their local library as a new £76,000 3D printing project is rolled out across Scotland to improve access to new technology and encourage creativity in communities.

3D printing allows people to use a computer file to create a three-dimensional object by using successive layers of material. Creating product prototypes is just one practical use of 3D printing to support research and development and manufacturing.  It can also be used to make everyday objects, such as broken or missing parts.

Now, the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) is aiming to inspire communities to develop innovative and imaginative uses for 3D printing with a national programme to install a 3D printer and scanner with materials within every library service in Scotland. Each library service has appointed a 3D Printing Champion, who will promote and support the 3D printer and develop bespoke projects within their local communities.

The investment follows the successful introduction of 3D printing at a number library services last year, including Dundee, Stirling, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian and Edinburgh, which inspired a wide range of activities. Dundee Central Library was the first public library in the UK to offer 3D printing, where it has been used to print characters from books to support creative writing and storytelling for people with learning disabilities. In Stirling, a library user, who is a retired clockmaker, is planning to use the 3D printer to create obsolete parts for old clocks and watches.

Pamela Tulloch, Chief Executive, SLIC said: “I believe 3D printing in public libraries offers huge potential for local communities to learn and create.  Thanks to additional funding from the Scottish Government, more people will have access to this exciting technology. Who knows what it might lead to in some communities – the possibilities are endless and ground-breaking ideas can from the most unexpected places.

“This is just one of the innovative projects underway in libraries across Scotland to meet the aims of the public library strategy, which we launched last year.  A key aspect of the strategy is to ensure libraries reflect the needs of modern communities. The 3D printing project is an excellent demonstration of the ability of libraries to adapt to the changing needs of communities, ensuring they remain relevant in an increasingly digital world.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, added: “The Scottish Government is committed to empowering Scots of all ages to be digitally creative in the home, school and workplace. I’m confident the 3D printers will ignite a spark of creativity and inspire entrepreneurial spirit.

“Our investment, which is worth £76,000, ensures the technology is accessible to everyone. Libraries not only provide access to reading materials but play a crucial role in providing access to IT, improving attainment, supporting children in the early years and empowering communities. It’s also testament to the role libraries are playing in our digital world as hubs for innovation and creativity and I encourage people to make use of this cutting edge technology.”

Your local authority library service will be able to supply more details of 3D printing facilities available throughout Scotland.

For more information on 3D printing read SLIC’s final project report, 3D Printing in Scottish Public Libraries.


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