Empowering Access to AT Through Libraries

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Discover how libraries are supporting in the creation of assistive technology through 3D printing services in these public community spaces.

A person working on a laptop in front of a 3d printer. Below the Where it's AT logo, text reads: "Empowering Access to AT Through Libraries - AbilityTools.org"

Amora Stahl, Program Coordinator I and Michelle Rosado, Program Coordinator II, Ability Tools Program.

Integration of Assistive Technology into Library Services Continued…

Librarians across the state are increasingly working to integrate assistive technology & devices. As we continued our discussion with Youth Services Librarian Kadie Seitz from the Los Angeles Public Library we were able to ask about 3D printing services at her library:

Q: Does your center provide access to 3D Printing?

A: Yes we do! We have 3D printers available for use at both our OctaviaLab at Central Library and the Koreatown Media Lab at the Pio Pico-Koreatown branch. Equipment is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Lab members may make reservations up to one week in advance. Reservations are done in person or over the phone at (213) 228-7150.

Many libraries in California provide 3D printing services, serving as a resource for our community to not only build their own support tools, but to be creative and drive the trajectory of how those support devices are designed.

Getting Started with 3D Printing at Your Local Library

Modern libraries offer 3D printing. Some libraries provide workshops to introduce users to this technology. Contact your local library to inquire about 3D printing services. The steps outlined below for creating 3D prints at a local California library are based on common practices and general guidelines from various public libraries that offer 3D printing services. While there isn’t a single source for all the steps, the process generally follows these principles. For precise and detailed steps, it’s best to consult the specific library you plan to use. You can find references and examples on the websites and resources of libraries, such as:

Step 1: Research and Preparation

  • Research the Library’s 3D Printing Services:
    • Visit the library’s website or contact the library to understand the specific 3D printing services they offer.
    • Review the library’s 3D printing policies, guidelines, and any associated costs.
  • Design Your 3D Model:
    • Create a 3D model using design software such as Tinkercad, Blender, or Fusion 360.
    • Ensure your model meets the library’s size and format requirements (usually .STL or .OBJ files).

Step 2: Submit Your 3D Model

  • Prepare Your File:
    • Export your 3D model in the correct file format.
    • Verify the file size and dimensions comply with the library’s specifications.
  • Submit Your File:
    • Upload your file through the library’s online submission form or email it to the designated address.
    • Include any additional information required, such as color preferences, infill density, and print quality.

Step 3: Await Approval and Processing

  • Library Review:
    • The library staff will review your submission to ensure it meets all guidelines and is printable.
    • You may receive feedback or requests for modifications if there are any issues with your file.
  • Approval Notification:
    • Once approved, you will receive a notification with an estimated completion time and any associated costs.

Step 4: Printing and Quality Check

  • Printing Process:
    • The library staff will queue your file for printing based on their schedule and availability.
    • The 3D printing process will begin, and the library may provide updates on the status of your print.
  • Quality Check:
    • After printing, the library staff will perform a quality check to ensure the print meets the expected standards.
    • If there are any issues, they may reprint the item or contact you for further instructions.

Step 5: Collection and Finalization

  • Pickup Notification:
    • Once your 3D print is ready, you will receive a notification with details on how to collect it.
    • Verify the pickup location and times as specified by the library.
  • Payment and Collection:
    • Pay any fees associated with the 3D printing service, if applicable.
    • Collect your 3D print from the designated area in the library.

Examples of 3D printing assistive devices:

Hand opens water bottle using blue bottle opener

Bottle Openers

hand writes using blue round pen ball text reads: "Makers Making Change"

Pen Ball

Grey dice spinner on table with a green and black pair of dice inside

Dice Spinner

For additional resources for 3D printed Assistive Technology be sure to checkout these great online communities:


If it helps you do something you weren’t able to do before, we think thats cool. #Disability #Accessibility #Accessible #Accessibility #AssistiveTech #AssistiveTechnology Video description: 3D printed one handed nail clipper, can handle, key helper, button hook, bag holder, utensil cuff, reading bar, book holder, palm pen holder, signature guide.

♬ Little Things – Adrian Berenguer
Our friends at TechOwlPA share great insights about 3D prints and how they can assist people with disabilities accomplish various daily living tasks.

To find more 3D print files (STL’s), please check out these great 3D printing resources!