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Carving into the world of 3-D

Library intern helps get library printer lab running

Jordan Stoll sort of fell into his role as the “go-to guy” for all things 3-D printer related.

In fact, Stoll, a senior at Hillsboro’s Century High School, has not been a technology “geek” for long.

It all started a year or so ago, he said, when his grandfather introduced him to a 3-D printer he had just purchased.

Stoll’s granddad, Dale Grimes, is a retired mechanical engineer, and the printer was his new hobby. Stoll was fascinated. He wanted to learn more, to learn about its capabilities, to see what the printer could do.

Photo Credit: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - Jordan Stoll, a senior at Century High School, is a self-taught 3-D printer guru.Stoll got online, found a print file for a “little blue goldfish,” took it to his granddad and said, “Help me do this.”

His grandfather’s reply was what started Stoll down a path to discover the world of 3-D printing on his own.

“He told me, ‘No. Do it yourself.’ He sat me down and told me what not to do,” Stoll said after a presentation at the Shute Park Branch Library on the library’s brand new 3-D printer.

“He got me started by telling me no,” Stoll joked.

Stoll was an intern last summer for the city of Hillsboro. The city funded 18 internships for high school students, and Stoll, a member of the Mayors Youth Advisory Council, worked with Greg Mont in Hillsboro's Information Services department. The city had just purchased a 3-D printer, and Stoll was tasked with helping to develop ways for the city to effectively use it.

“It was the most fun summer I ever had,” he said. By the end of his internship, he had written a simple instruction manual for city staff.

“I was paid to refine my skills,” he explained.

When the Friends of the Hillsboro Library recently funded the purchase of a 3-D printer as a tool for people to explore creative possibilities, Stoll said Mont called him and said, “We need you.”

Stoll has helped with recent printer demonstrations at the library. In the second of two demos of a new printer last week at the Shute Park facility, he fielded questions from interested library patrons that ranged from the technicalities of what kinds of programs and sizes of files the printer can handle to a question from a youngster about how to design something for the printer.

“It’s kind of like building Legos,” Stoll began, and proceeded to make the whole process understandable to a beginner.

Over the last few years, there has been an explosion of interest in 3-D printing in libraries, due in part to the falling cost of the technology and the new collaborative labs and "makerspaces" that are springing up in libraries all over the country. 

Hillsboro’s 3-D printer is just the second at a public library in Oregon. Lake Oswego also has one.

“This technology is just taking off,” said Brendan Lax, reader services librarian. “We’re in on the ground level.”

Lax said public libraries have traditionally been an “equalizer in technology,” allowing the general public access to new technologies.

“3-D printing is an emerging and constantly evolving technology, and people are definitely curious about how they work and what they can do," Lax said. "Anything you can dream up and design can be brought to life by one of these printers." Stoll, other volunteers and library staff will assist patrons when the 3-D printer lab opens at the Hillsboro Main Library on Brookwood Parkway sometime in February 2015.

To start, the lab will likely be open once a week for several hours. Patrons can queue up to have their designs printed. Print jobs that take longer than 15 minutes can be dropped off and picked up later. Services will be free to start, Lax said.

Stoll said he had no idea what the demand for the printer will be, adding that there’s a “huge range” of people “interested for all sorts of reasons.”

Whatever the interest, Stoll will be there in the lab when it opens, ready and willing to help.

On Twitter: @ReporterFuller

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