What is the TechLab?

The TechLab is a Caltech Library facility that includes a range of select equipment related to 3D prototyping and modeling, including a variety of FDM 3D printers, as well as Arduino boards and Raspberry Pi's.

Who can use the TechLab?

TechLab services are available to members of the Caltech community, including students, postdoctoral associates, faculty, and staff. If you are affiliated with a department but do not fall under these categories, please contact us for more information.

Where is the TechLab located?

The TechLab is located on the first floor of Sherman Fairchild Library, room 131. It is on the east side next to the stairwell.

Techlab 2 is located in the neighboring room and works essentially the same way as Techlab 1 but is dedicated to experimental material printing and for research/class-related projects only.

When is the TechLab open?

The lab is open to Registered Users during regular library business hours. Registered users may also access the lab after-hours and on the weekends by checking out a key at the Circulation desk. 

Staff support is generally available Monday-Friday, 8am - 5pm, with additional limited support from Monday-Thursday, 5pm - 10pm.  Contact us to schedule an registration session or for any other related consultations.

Does it cost anything to use the Lab?

Nope!  The startup cost of the TechLab was initially funded by the Moore-Hufstedler fund through the 2016 academic year and is now being maintained and supported by the Caltech Library, so there is currently no associated costs for members of the Caltech community to use the facility.

Are there restrictions on what can be printed in the TechLab?

The Caltech Library TechLab operates largely on the Caltech Honor Code.  More explicitly, the TechLab does not allow printing of weapons or offensive material.  Please visit our Policies page for more details. 

3D printing is also subject to copyright restrictions. Be sure that you are allowed to be reproducing or printing your object. For more information, see the copyright notice on 3D printing developed by the American Library Association.

What kind of equipment is in the Techlab?

We currently have 17 FDM printers in operation, +/- whichever ones happen to be down at the moment.  Please see our Equipment page for details on the printers.  We also have a limited amount of Raspberry Pi's and Arduino kits to poke around with in Techlab 2. 

What kind of material is available?

The Techlab stocks 1.75mm PLA (Polylactic Acid) filament in various colors.  PLA filament is one of the more eco-friendly 3D printer materials available.  It is derived from renewable resources (corn-starch), requires less energy to process as compared to petroleum-based plastics, is low-odor and is not considered a hazardous material. Technical and Safety Material Data Sheets can be found here:

We cannot print with ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), as we do not have the appropriate required ventilation for it.

If you're interested in trying a different material, we have a few select specialty filaments available for experimentation in TechLab 2.  Please contact us for more info.

Are the fumes in the TechLab dangerous?

No, the slight smell you may experience is not dangerous. It should not cause any irritation to your eyes or lungs. If you do experience discomfort, please leave the room immediately and let a Library staff member know.

How do I become a Registered User of the TechLab?

Please schedule a Registration Session with us!  Registration involves an orientation that covers Techlab policies, 3D model design considerations and proper printer operation.  Registrations generally last anywhere from 30-60 min, depending on user familiarity and printer cooperation. 

How do I cite the TechLab in my Acknowledgements?

While we don't require acknowledgements, it would be SUPER if you wanted to include one for us! We suggest something akin to the following:
“Parts were fabricated at the Caltech Library TechLab 3D Printing Facility, which was created and is sustained by funding from both the Caltech Moore-Hufstedler Fund and the Caltech Library.”

You didn't answer my question. Who/what/where/when/why/how ... ?

For all other burning questions, please contact us!