|Executive Summary||877 KB|
Rapid fabrication technologies, or “3-D Printing,” to use the less accurate but more familiar term, have undergone rapid evolution and are now used for medical implants, prosthetics, teaching aids, information visualization, research on rare/fragile objects, architecture, art, and advanced manufacturing. These technologies are rapidly lowering a number of different barriers faced by researchers and others, barriers that had previously made it prohibitively difficult for most individuals, researchers, and organizations to manufacture objects without significant investment of time and money in training and equipment. Because of these advances, the complexity and range of objects that may now be manufactured has increased precipitously, including easily customized items or precisely replicated physical objects, while the process by which these may be manufactured has flattened, allowing on-site or local manufacture and reducing lead time (in some cases permitting even just-in-time manufacturing processes).
Our analysis provides information for senior library staff to support decisions related to engagement with 3-D printing, rapid fabrication and digitization technologies, and makerspaces, in general, and in particular to inform decisions regarding the types of service offerings libraries can provide, resources needed, and evaluation of the service.