AMS Spring 2023

‘3D Printing in Medical Libraries’ Offers Great Advice for Librarians & Users Too

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In Melanie J. Norton’s recently published book review of 3D Printing in Medical Libraries: A Crash Course in Supporting Innovation in Health Care, by Jennifer Herron, we learn more about the process of opening 3D printing labs, and why they are important to today’s medical libraries as a modern educational and clinical resource.

3D printing in libraries overall has become much more common in the US, and especially with greater accessibility and affordability of technology. Kids accept 3D design and printing as commonplace activities and can be seen in many schools and libraries busy at work both creating objects as well as watching with enthusiasm while layers are deposited onto varying types of print beds. All ages are involved at libraries, however, and medical students, as well as doctors and surgeons, are able to innovate in medical libraries like the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Ruth Lilly Medical Library.

Photo: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

The author discusses the advantages of opening a 3D printing lab in a medical library:

  • 3D printed models of bones, teeth, and organs are extremely helpful
  • 3D printing services are extremely beneficial to medical students and scholars
  • 3D printed models alleviate issues in finding available cadavers for hands-on training

Fourteen chapters offer information on setting up a 3D printing medical library lab; and while this information may be extremely useful to librarians in such settings, anyone interested in 3D printing or understanding more about the future of libraries should find the comprehensive tome to be of value.

“Providing a 3D printing service can be an opportunity for a medical library to better serve students and enhance scholars’ experiences,” states Norton in her review. “Having a 3D printing service also helps solve the problem of cadaver availability, as well as provide a safer alternative to repeated exposure to embalming fluids.”

The book touches on finer points too that many may not consider, such as intellectual property rights. And although this is covered by others who are concerned about the open-source community and the self-afforded latitude they enjoy—and have more so enjoyed before 3D printing was garnering so much attention—here, Herron goes into great detail about the particular liabilities libraries could face over copyrights, trademarks, patents, and more. Infringement is a serious legal issue and one that must be considered, and libraries will need to consider what types of agreements patrons may need to sign before using supplied software and equipment.

And while there is much included for the librarian and from the librarian’s point of view, Herron also offers plentiful information regarding the importance of managing both productivity, quality, and printing parameters, including evaluating:

  • Model weights
  • Print times
  • Infill
  • Print speed
  • Temperature

“The resources are arranged by media type including books, journals, magazines, social media, 3D repositories, software, and even conferences and events,” concludes Norton. “Although this book focuses on medical libraries, it is an ideal how-to manual for any librarian who desires to set up a 3D printing service but does not know where to start.”

3D printed medical models – from ‘3D Printing in Medical Libraries: A Crash Course in Supporting Innovation in Health Care.’

3D printing medical libraries are an enormous boon to everyone able to make use of them from specialty repositories with cardiac models to programs for regular libraries around the world offering makerspaces with the ability to access exciting realms like virtual reality and plenty of fun items too like 3D printable video game figures. What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: ‘Review of 3D Printing in Medical Libraries: A Crash Course in Supporting Innovation in Health Care’]

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