Grant Resources – 3D Labs

[This page was last updated 7 February 2017.]

3D Labs @ Your Library is funded by the U.S. Institute of  Museum and Library Services  through a grant to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (2017). This grant application details what we are doing.

Quarterly Reports:

Participating libraries are not expected to have statistics until the 2nd quarter. Yay!
2nd Quarter: Dec 1 – Feb 28. Stats are due no later than March 1st. Here is the Q2 Event Report Form, the Q2 Use Report Form, and the Customer Survey.
3rd Quarter: March 1- May 31. Stats are due no later than June 1st. Here are the Q3 Event Report Form, the Q3 Use Report Form, and the Customer Survey.
4th Quarter: June 1- Aug 31. Stats are due no later than September 1st. Here are the Q4 Event Report Form , the Q4 Use Report Form, and the Customer Survey.
Please follow these instructions from TSLAC when reporting your activity.

Public Communication:

It is important that we all follow these guidelines for signage, articles, blog posts, and so on. Everyone needs to get credit for the grants they award so they can justify what they are doing. IMLS and TSLAC each specify how their logos may be used: IMLS logo and use and TSLAC logo and use. CTLS would also like credit (CTLS logo) but crediting IMLS and TSLAC is more important.


  1. The first workshop was on 3D Lab Management. The updated slides are available on Google Docs.
  2. The second workshop was on 3D Lab Basics. The training was provided by PolyPrinter.
  3. The third workshop was on 3D Lab Software. The slides are available on Google Docs.
  4. The fourth workshop was on 3D Lab Tips and Tricks. The slides are available on Google Docs along with a template spreadsheet for estimating how much to charge for filament, a zip archive of default slicer settings, and a zip archive of sample files to download.
  5. The fifth workshop was a review of the previous workshops, the grant objectives and responsibilities, and preparation for the showcase.


Please join the Texas_Innovation_Group email list to share ideas about anything related to maker spaces in libraries. The list is maintained by Thomas Finley of Frisco Public Library. If you wish to join then contact either Thomas or Paul Waak at CTLS for assistance.

The Colorado Virtual Libraries also has a website dedicated to “creating & learning centers,” aka., library makerspaces.

Is 3D Printed PLA food safe?

The same is true for ABS and any other plastic. The short answer is that food grade filament is not enough. The extruder and hot end, as well as the printing environment needs to also be food safe to actually qualify. The ability to sterilize the equipment without melting it is a good thing. Printed objects can be coated with food safe epoxies that fill in the pores and prevent bacteria from moving in. Again, the ability to sterilize the finished product without melting it is a good thing. Cups, cookie cutters, or anything else that is used with food are possible but good research is the best defense against accidents.

Sources for Filament:


  • resells filament from sources they have tested on their printers
  • they only carry ABS plastic


  • reliable source for ABS and PLA filament


  • manufactures Maker Filament branded filament in Missouri, USA
  • carries an interesting variety of filaments

FlashForge USA

  • company that also produces their own brand of 3D printers
  • sells reasonably priced filaments that work well

Sources for 3D Models:


  • models are “guaranteed 3D printable”
  • generally “safe for work”
  • has some realistic looking weapon models
  • probable copyright infringement is easy to find


  • includes models for devices other than 3D printers, like laser cutters
  • not everything prints correctly
  • has models flagged as “not safe for work”
  • some probable copyright infringement can be found


  • includes commercial models that are downloaded for a price
  • has community based (inconsistent) reviews of 3D printers
  • has models flagged as “not safe for work”
  • some probable copyright infringement can be found

Software for creating 3D models:

Creating a 3D model is a very individualized thing. For this reason, there is no “best” software to use. Each program is focused on different skills and outlooks, and the best way is to try them all. People quickly figure out which one is right for their own use.


  • A good introduction to 3D modeling concepts
  • Only available as a cloud service
  • Works best with Firefox or Microsoft Edge browsers

3D Builder

  • A general purpose 3D modeling program
  • Comes with Windows 10, also available on XBox One


  • Converts about 20 photos of an object into a 3D model
  • Available for Android based phones and tablets


  • Uses a graphic design approach to 3D modeling
  • Originally for 3D animation and games
  • Has several support communities, some of which operate in Spanish
  • Is known for not working like any other software, a cheat sheet listing keyboard commands is more convenient than using the menu system


  • Uses a mathematical approach to 3D modeling
  • Uses a markup language that is considered “programmer friendly”


Software for cleaning up 3D models that have problems:


  • It works very well but the documentation is notably poor.
  • They have specific acknowlegment rules.

Software for “Slicing,” turning 3D models into G-code:

There have been many slicing competitions to determine which program is best. In practice each slicer excels with some models and has trouble with others. The best way is to find one that usually works with the printer. The other slicers can always be used when a specific feature or quality is needed.


  • PolyPrinter comes with the licensed version of KISSlicer as this is their preferred slicing program.
  • The download page has a Spanish translation file. To install the translation, open KISSlicer, go to the menu item Preferences -> Languages -> Load a Language File.
  • The documentation on this page was last updated in 2012.


  • Additional documentation may be found on their wiki.


  • Skeinforge is a general purpose CNC slicer. It can make instructions for cutting, extrusion, milling, and winding.
  • This is old software, last updated in 2012. It is still around because it can sometimes handle models that fail with other slicing programs. It has a lot of manual settings, often requires a calculator to get things just right, and can be very slow.

Printer Control Software:

Printrun and PolyPronter

  • Printrun is the basis for PolyPronter. There are differences as PolyPrinter has tailored the software specifically to work with their printers.
  • Printrun integrates with Slic3r by default.
  • PolyPronter is tailored to work with KISSlicer instead.


  • It has good multilingual support.
  • It integrates with Slic3r, CuraEngine, and Skeinforge.
  • It has options for controlling printers in a server mode.

Central Texas Library System, Inc.