City Desk

D.C. Library Prints Bike Accessories On Its 3D Printers

A bike donning a cup holder made on 3D printer

A bike with a cup holder made on a 3D printer at MLK Library

D.C. bike enthusiasts can now purchase bike accessories on the cheap at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The library kicked off Bike to Work Day Thursday evening by printing bike cup holders and fender attachments on its 3D printers as part of a bike-themed workshop to introduce residents to the technology.

"We thought it would be a good way to get people probably already interested in emerging technologies to come over here," says Anne Ledford, one of the librarians who led the workshop.

D.C. Public Libraries have three 3D printers available for public use at MLK Library. The printers create objects out of polylactic acid—a type of biodegradable plastic. The library's machines can't print any objects larger than a basketball. (Sorry, you won't be able to get your next bike printed at the library.)

It costs $1 to use the printers, plus an additional 5 cents per gram of plastic used. The librarians will do the actual printing—library members should just drop off an object they want scanned or go to a website like Tinkercad, which has already digitized countless objects that are ready to be printed on a 3D printer. A cup holder would cost a little less than $2.

It takes hours to print a single object, and Medford says it will likely take a couple of weeks for the library to complete a customer's request to print an object.

Click here to see a full list of events that D.C. Public Libaries are hosting for National Bike Month.

Photo by Perry Stein

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