Justin Woodring, 13, spends a lot of time at the Livingston Parish Library’s main branch using the 3-D printer.
“We see him all the time,” said J.D. Lovelace, branch manager, who teaches beginner 3-D design classes at the library — the basics of using 3-D design software to create objects with the printer.
Everyone, including artists and entrepreneurs, uses the technology, said Craig Billings, co-owner of Acadian Robotics in Gonzales, and he believes the 3-D printer is quickly becoming indispensable.
Lovelace said he’s seen several small-business owners come into their library to use the 3-D printer to design and test the fit and effectiveness of parts before they go to the trouble and expense of having them manufactured.
That’s just one of many uses he’s noticed since the library got its printer a couple of years ago.
There was so much interest, in fact, that he invited Billings to the library to teach community members beginner classes on 3-D software programs like SketchUp.
“Sarah Columbo (another library employee) and I sat in on the classes, and learned the software well enough to start teaching them ourselves,” he said.
Columbo also teaches an intermediate class.
Woodring uses the printer for fun — he draws “very detailed” train car models, he said, and prints them out. He’s been able to make his models increasingly more detailed, he said, thanks to the software he started learning in the classes.
In the two years since they opened, Billings said they’ve seen the uses for this technology grow, along with interest in the machines and the software used to design plans for 3-D-printed objects.
The library classes have been popular enough that Billings and his business partners, including Bree Perkins, the company’s executive director of education, are developing classes for the general public through their business — Aug. 13, 20 and 27, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Cost for the classes is $140, he said.
As of now, Acadian offers 3-D printers and printing supplies, technical support and a 3-D printing kit designed especially for schools, according to its website, www.acadianrobotics.com.
The library’s next introductory course in 3-D design is from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday at the Main Branch of the Livingston Parish Library. Participants must have a basic to moderate knowledge of computers before taking this course. Registration is required. Call (225) 686-2436.