– 2016 –

ABC3D is an exploratory project that aims to design and experiment about ten different workshops using 3D printing in libraries, based on the model of living labs. At the end of the project, a precise description of each workshop was put online, and then integrated into a PDF so that other libraries in Quebec and around the world could be inspired to run their own workshops.

3D printing in libraries

  • Libraries are evolving into “third placespaces and offer different types of activities. They are no longer just collections of books, but places that provide access to a broader spectrum of cultural activities and content.
  • The HOMAGO (Hang Out / Mess Around / Geek Out) concept is becoming increasingly popular, especially with young audiences.
  • Several libraries, notably in Canada (Toronto, Calgary, New Brunswick, etc.), have begun to equip themselves with 3D printers and to offer activities around these machines. More than 250 libraries are already equipped in the United States.
  • The very long opening hours of libraries make them ideal places to access this equipment. In addition, access is often free and materials are available at cost.
  • 3D technology is becoming more democratic. Machines are getting smaller, cheaper and easier to control. This is the phenomenon that some call “the 3rd Industrial Revolution”. Initially a technological process reserved for the high-tech industry, machines are now appearing in people’s homes.
  • Spaces giving access to this equipment (fablabs, makerspaces, techshops, etc.) are gaining in popularity and are starting to appear in Quebec.
  • The educational and social potential of 3D printers is just beginning to be understood. They can be used as an entry point to address potentially complex subjects: manufacturing, modeling, mathematics, code, mechanics, robotics, thermodynamics, etc. In addition, applications are emerging in many fields (architecture, health, fashion, etc.).
  • More generally, they help develop digital literacy (understanding, knowledge and skills to use digital tools), which is more necessary than ever for the general public.


  • In the libraries that have acquired 3D printers, the workshops offered to citizens at the time of the project were at the beginner level. They were very popular with the public, but consisted mainly of discovery workshops and on-demand printing. As 3D printers become more and more popular, our project allows us to renew and enrich the experience of FabLabs.
  • Despite their development, FabLabs and other makerspaces sometimes struggle to reach the general public. They were often used by a community of informed users.

We were able to explore the possibilities of 3D printing in libraries in an experimental and open manner, in order to develop best practices and democratize its use and access.

Discover the guides here :

This project was carried out in partnership with the Bibliothèques de Montréal.

It contributes to the Montréal’s Ville Intelligente program and the Quartiers Culturels Durables program.

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