Making Christmas gifts on a budget using 3-D printers

Posted at 2:24 PM, Dec 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-12 22:50:01-05

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - How much would you guess for a new ukulele? $50? $100? If it is on your Christmas shopping list, you could make one for just a little over $10 with a 3-D printer.

"A lot of just comes down to having the right designs,” Ben Strohm, with the Williamsburg Regional Library, said. "If you want to do something that's unique and one of a kind as opposed to going store-bought then this is a good way to go."

Ben Strohm oversees the 3-D printers at the Williamsburg Regional Library and said no gift idea is complex for the 3-D printers.

"Tell us your crazy idea anyway because I've seen a lot of stuff and we're pretty good at making it happen,” He said.

Figurines of characters and other creations, printed using the 3D printer, were placed along the top of a desk. The figurines came in different colors and sizes.

"We did have someone come in who wanted to do a half-size replica of Morgan Freeman's head,” Strohm explained. “It sounds simple, but it took a lot of prep work to make it come out right."

Anyone printing a creation will see it get created on the printer’s platform in front of them. The time it will take to print will depend on the project.

Strohm printed a News 3 logo that took roughly 30 minutes. The 3-D printed ukulele took over 28 hours.

"If you come to us and say, 'Oh man, I'd really like this,’” Strohn explained, “our first step is going to be to look online and see if someone else has created something like that."

The staff will help you choose designs from free design websites and load it into the printer.

"It's even stuff first graders would be able to learn,” Strohm added.

At the Williamsburg Regional Library, all it costs is patience. That is because, "We are very well supported by the friends of the library and we don't charge for the materials on this,” Strohm added.

Appointments are needed at the Williamsburg Regional Library, which you can access by clicking here.

Check with your closest library to see if they have 3-D printers available, if they charge, and if you need an appointment before driving out here.