Meet Ada, our 3D printer.

Robin Brenner | December 29, 2016

Our 3D printer Ada, a Lulzbot Mini, is named after Ada Lovelace, mathematician and the first computer programmer.

To see some examples of 3D printing and see our Lulzbot Mini printer in action, visit our Brookline Village location and head down to the ground floor near the elevator.  Ada lives right next to our cafe, and you can see her printing items for the staff and the public.  The enclosure allows everyone to see her printing minus the high temperatures (over 200 degrees Celsius) and fumes released when printing.

What kind of items can you print?

People can print all kinds of items with a 3D printer, and in libraries people have printed things like:

  • prosthetic hands
  • phone cases
  • speakers
  • action figures
  • props for costumes
  • missing parts
  • and so much more!

The only limit is your imagination and the size we can print, six by six inches.

Does she really sing?

Here she is printing a design from a local student. While when you visit you won’t be able to hear her printing too much (as her “song” can be annoying as well as entertaining), here is what it sounds like.

Learn to design in 3D

If you want to start designing objects, we recommend checking out the following resources to help you get started.  A good place to begin is with the free online software Tinkercad, as it’s very easy to use and introduces all of the basic concepts of designing for 3D.  When you feel more confident, you can shift over to a more complicated software like Meshmixer.  Be sure to investigate the tutorials, and remember that our online resources like Lynda.com have video courses on 3D printing ready for you to watch.

3D printing videos

3D Design Software

3D Design Help

Watch our calendar and events announcements for upcoming 3D printing workshops, classes, and fairs — we do our best to help introduce everyone to all of the possibilities in 3D printing.

If you are an educator or community organizer and would like to arrange a visit (or if you’d like us to bring Ada to you!) to learn more about 3D printing, please contact our Teen Librarian, Robin Brenner, at rbrenner@minlib.net.

Profile of a Star Wars chess set

You may have already seen our first library 3D printing project, a Star Wars chess set designed by our Teen Librarian, Robin Brenner.  She used a combination of already available, shared creations and her own designs to build a chess set pitting the Empire against the Rebel Alliance.

This set demonstrates some of the different kinds of design you can build and then print.  The set used models, such as the light saber handles, built and shared by other creators via sites like Tinkercad and Thingiverse.  For models that didn’t already exist, Robin used her sculpting skills to create the faces of characters using modeling clay.  Using the cell phone app 123D Catch, she then captured the 3D sculpture, refined it through the program Meshmixer, and saved it as a file to be printed.

The original sculpture of Princess Leia.

The final printed Queen chess piece.

Each piece took hours to design, and each piece was printed at the highest resolution.  Each of the pieces took around five hours to print, and used around 40 grams of filament.

Want to try 3D printing?

  1. Design a 3D model.
  2. Send in a print request through our online form.
  3. We’ll get Ada working on it!

Size and time limits apply. Read the complete guidelines on what we can print, visit our 3D printing page.

Curious about Ada Lovelace?

Check out Sydney Padua‘s The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage for more on our printer’s namesake Ada Lovelace and her illustrated (fictional) adventures. You can see Sydney Padua’s art on the side of our printer.

For her real life story, we recommend Ada’s Ideas by Fiona Robinson for young readers and Ada’s Algorithm by James Essinger for adults.