Small PrintLibrary’s 3-D printer creates 14-gram whistle

If you’ve never seen a 3-D printer, Masen Lineback, a freshman at Friday Harbor High School, can tell you all about it.

“It’s printing a whistle,” said Linback, as guests entered the study room at the San Juan Island Library on the first day of 3-D printing demonstrations on Nov. 15.

The printer — called a MakerBot — is about 12 inches tall and sits on a table, behind a glass case in the study room. The printer reads a digital image of a selected item and a robotic arm layers hot plastic to build it. After two hours and 18 minutes, the 14-gram whistle was complete.

An anonymous donation provided the printer.

“A patron suggested it to let people experience 3-D printing,” said Floyd Bourne, IT manager at the library.

Now, 3-D printers can create complicated items, like food and organs. At the library, staff will hold one demonstration, every weekday, on items like a nut and bolt that fit into each other and a loosely connected chain that can be snapped together. A collection of printed materials will be on display near the library entrance. By January, the library hopes to allow patrons to use the printer. Lineback already has plans.

“If I could print anything, it’d probably be a really cool toy car.”

Now that’s progress.