3D printing: the most fun you can have at the library

SAN CARLOS, Calif. (KGO) -- What's the coolest thing to do this summer? Sure, reading is fun. However, both kids and adults are heading to the library to learn how to design and to print 3D objects.

Librarians have become tech savvy teachers.

The sound of 3D printers is familiar these days at the 12 libraries in the San Mateo County Library network. They're running almost non-stop, creating objects made out of biodegradable plastic.

Youngsters are riveted as they watch projects take shape, layer by layer. Libraries are actively teaching digital literacy.

Senior librarian Rachel Evans finds herself explaining technology to patrons of all ages. There she is, hovering over some children, explaining, "It's going to heat up the nozzle, and then it's going to start printing in a second."

Each of the San Mateo County libraries has at least two 3D printers available for free. Workshops are held to teach people how to design and print objects. Patrons have made almost 1,800 objects in the past year.

Twelve-year-old Luke Diago wants to make something. "Probably something I like, like a little figure to put on my desk," he said.

People make a wide range of objects.

"The kids pick up this really quickly," said Evans. "But to have that sort of bridge, like they can show the grown-ups a thing or two, is really special, too."

The 3D printers caught the eye of Pauline Lau Broyles. She collects penguins and decided to print one after getting some design help.

"The library -- it's all about life-long learning, so I'm really a proponent of that," she said. "Anything to get the kids and the community involved with technology, new learning, a new concept... it's great."

Her design was put on an SD card for the 3D printer to get started. Now it's a waiting game -- one hour for the printer to do its work.

All of this is very high tech until you get to the very last step. To remove your finished product, you still need an old-fashioned spatula.

The result was worth it. Pauline just needs to paint some eyes on her penguin.

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