Welcome to the MakerPlace at Midland Public Library.
For 150 years, the Midland Public Library has been entrusted with community resources to provide opportunities for learning and collaboration. Opening this space is one way we’re continuing this proud tradition.
What is it?
The MakerPlace is where you can explore the intersection between your creativity and new technologies. It’s a space for the community to discover and share skills, tools, equipment, and ideas, and to gather and learn together.
What’s in the space?
The space includes:
- A MakerLab with 3D printing, laser cutting, and other light manufacturing & making equipment
- A MediaLab with audio / video recording, production, and digitization equipment
- A collaborative learning space with a computer lab, robotics and electronics kits
- And much more to come as we learn and grow together!
What happens in the space?
We want to build local skills in robotics, coding, design and modelling, and more.
- Learn how to use the equipment
- Develop and create your own projects
- Talk to experienced makers
- Meet up with others who share your interests
Join in on a workshop:
- 3D printing
- Media digitization
- Science and engineering
How much does it cost?
Participation is free with your Midland Public Library card. For those who aren’t residents of Midland or one of our contracting municipalities (Tiny, Tay, Oro-Medonte, Barrie, Orillia), a MakerPlace-only card is $60 for one year or $15 for a day. Some workshops and projects will have a cost to cover materials.
How do I find out more?
We’d love you to get involved! If you have a school group, want to volunteer, arrange training, book a space, or have any questions, please contact [email protected]. All information is subject to change and will be updated here.
Please note that you should bring your own external memory cards for your projects. Supplies for laser cutting, vinyl cutting, and 3D printing must be provided or approved by MPL in advance – do not plan on using your own supplies without approval.
Participation is free with your Midland Public Library card. For those who aren’t residents of Midland or one of our contracting municipalities (Tiny, Oro-Medonte, Barrie, Orillia), a MakerPlace-only card is $60 for one year or $15 for a day.
Software: For designing, we use Sketchup or TinkerCAD. Try Thingiverse to find new designs and upload your own. Learn about 3D printing here: https://markforged.com/article/what-is-3d-printing/ or here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx0Z6LplaMU
Training: To use a 3D printer without an appointment, a training session is required. Training may be done in person (check our Programs page for dates and times) or online at home. The background document can be found here.
Cost: 3D Printing your designs costs $1.00 + $0.25 per 10 minutes.
Craft & Vinyl Cutting
Hardware: Cricut Maker
Software: We use the Cricut app to send jobs to the Cricut. The software uses vector images, which can also be created in other programs such as Inkscape. Learn about vinyl cutting with the Cricut here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyOkGFDPyAA
Cost: Costs vary based on the type of material used:
Regular Vinyl: 5 cents per square inch.
Print & Cut Vinyl: $2 per sheet.
Heat Transfer Vinyl: 10 cents per square inch.
Cardstock: 50 cents per sheet
$1.00 flat rate if you bring in your own materials.
Laser Cutting & Etching
Hardware: Epilog Fusion Edge 24
Software: The laser understands vector line drawings for cutting. We use Inkscape to create our designs. Learn about laser cutting here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Laser-Cutting-Basics/ or here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1QZ_FkREAE
Training: To use the laser cutter without an appointment, a training session is required. Training may be done in person (check our Programs page for dates and times) or online at home. The background document can be found here.
Cost: Lasering your designs at the library costs 5 cents per square inch on materials the library provides, or $1.00 + $1.00 per hour on your own materials.
Cost: Please follow all posted instructions for sewing in the MPL MakerPlace. Use of our BabyLock Victory Serger and Husqvarna Viking Topaz 50 embroidery machine is $5 / 15 minutes using our thread and your own material. Using the sewing machine is a $1.00 flat fee using your own materials and thread. Please contact the Library if you’d like to be trained by a skilled volunteer.
Our hobbyist button maker produces 3 different sizes of buttons. Bring your own paper inserts to create your own wearable art!
Cost: 1″ button $1.00; 2 1/4″ button $1.50; 3″ button $2.50; 2″x3″ rectangular button $2.00.
We R Memory Keepers The Cinch book binding machine can punch and bind books up to 1″ thick.
Cost: $2.00 for 5/8″ coil; $2.50 for 1″ coil.
Our MakerPlace has all the tools you’ll need to work on your maker project. Choose from our selection of screw drivers, pliers, allen keys, hammers, and soldering materials.
Ask a staff member to gain access to our Tool Cabinet. Tools must be used within the MakerLab space.
The MPL MakerPlace MediaLab continues to evolve and grow, and currently offers access to:
- 2 iMac stations equipped with Adobe Creative Suite
- green screen with applications loaded onto our library devices (or bring your own)
- Audio recording equipment and software:
- Two Blue Yeti Microphones
- High Definition Microphones
- Musical instruments and mixing board to create and record your own musical demos
- Electric and acoustic guitars
- Digital Piano
- Cajon drum box and egg shakers
- Scanning and digitization equipment for:
- Photo negatives
- Vinyl records
- Cassette tapes
- VHS tapes
Small numbers of writeable CDs, DVDs, USBs and SD cards are available for purchase at the following prices:
8 GB USB drive: $7.00
16 GB MicroSD with SD adapter: $12.00
Bring your own photos, videos, and files to put on your creative touches!
Kits, Tools, Toys
- Google Cardboard and VR goggles – use them with your own smartphone or try one of ours to explore real and imagined places in 3D: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxAj2lyX4oU&t=231s
- Arduino Uno starter kits – the Arduino is a microprocessor that can be programmed to interact with lights, sensors, motors, and more for a range of interesting projects: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfvqunpN7M4&t=244s
- Raspberry Pi 3 starter kits – A raspberry pi is a computer you can hold in your hand! Try one to learn more about coding and electronics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cviTxswW8c&t=2s
- Turing Tumble – Play with the Turing Tumble to find out more about computer logic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSjx6uh8MFg
- Dash & Dot – These loveable robots are good for ages 5+ and teach concepts around math, problem solving, engineering, coding, and more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LA9py48X6_o
- Ozobots – Ozobots are robots that fit in the palm of your hand! Program them with colour codes or with Blockly to get them to do what you want: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zm_H8HXWFZ4&t=17s
- Squishy Circuits – Learn about electrical circuits with our squishy kits! These packs turn playdough into the “wires” to conduct electricity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATnoNHtR_-k
- Makey Makey – Makey Makey turns anything that conducts electricity into a controller for simple computer programs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfQqh7iCcOU&t=3s
- Bloxels – Use the game board and a tablet to create your own playable video game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhVBdN-2Vr8
- LEGO, K’Nex, Make-Do – use these fun sets to build whatever springs from your imagination!
In-house use of these kits is free with your library or MakerPlace card. Availability is dependent on their use in library programming and subject to change. Children 13 and under should be accompanied by an adult.
A signed agreement is required of all users of the MakerPlace. Exception is given to individuals or groups on staff-led tours of the space.
Users (or if minors, their parents/guardians) are responsible for any fees incurred for loss or damage to MPL property, not associated with normal wear and tear, that is the result of inappropriate or unauthorized use of tools, equipment, or consumable materials, or for clean-up of the tools, equipment or the space. MPL is not responsible for any damage to, or loss or theft of, users’ personal property, including electronic files left on MPL computers.
Equipment and tools in the MakerPlace are available at no charge to library card holders, generally on a first-come, first-served basis during open MakerPlace hours. Specific tools or equipment may be reserved for projects at the discretion of staff. Please call 705-526-4216 ext. 3321 or email [email protected] to verify availability.
At its discretion, staff reserves the right to disallow the use of any tools, equipment, or consumable materials, or to halt, delete, or disallow the creation of items that violate any library policy. Projects must be approved by staff prior to use to ensure that proper file format, size and materials are being used. Approval to use the MakerPlace does not constitute endorsement by MPL of the uses to which the space is put or the products produced therein.
This agreement is subject to change and updates will be posted online and in the Library. Current MakerPlace users will be notified.
See also other policies:
3D Printing Training
Welcome to Midland Public Library’s Introduction to 3D Printing training course. In order to use the 3D printers in MPL’s Maker Lab, you will need to go through this course and complete the quiz at the end. If you have any questions about the content in this training, or would like to book time in the Maker Lab to print an object, please email [email protected]. Don’t forget to download the accompanying handout, as this will assist you with the quiz as well as your printing process.
To get started, let’s look at what 3D printing is and the different methods.
3D Printing Methods
3D printing is what’s known as “additive manufacturing,” which means that it creates by adding material to an object. It’s the opposite of subtractive manufacturing, which creates by taking things away, like carving. There are 5 primary types of 3D print technologies.
The first is fused deposition modeling, or FDM. This is one of the most common, and the type you’ve most likely seen before. It typically uses a thermoplastic filament and melts it to create each layer of the object, like a precise computer-controlled glue gun. FDM is also used to print houses out of concrete – except that concrete is used instead of plastic. To see an FDM printer at work, check out this video.
Direct light processing or DLP uses liquid resin to create layers, and hardens them using an LCD screen and UV light source. It’s like a much higher tech version of what your dentist does manually when creating a filling. While this process requires much more work and storage space, since you need somewhere to store the resin reservoir, it’s much better for fine detail work like game pieces, and objects are complete more quickly. To see a DLP printer at work, check out this video.
Stereolithography or SLA is similar to DLP, except that it uses a UV laser instead of a larger light source. This allows for more precise printing and larger print volume. To see an SLA printer at work, check out this video.
Selective laser sintering or SLS uses a laser and polymer powder to create 3D prints, and direct metal laser sintering or DMLS uses a laser and metal powder in the same type of system. To see DMLS at work, check out this video.
This training will focus on FDM printing technologies, as both of MPL’s 3D printers are this type.
MPL has two 3D printers that work very similarly to one another. Both use gcode files to print, and both will print in PLA or ABS filaments.
The Ultimaker 2+ has a slightly larger build volume, is more intuitive and typical of a small commercial FDM printer. The Anycubic i3 is typical of a home hobbyist printer and is less intuitive but produces comparable print quality.
While there are many different types of filaments that can be used in FDM 3D printers, the library almost exclusively uses PLA (polylactic acid). This is a plant-based, biodegradable plastic filament. You might notice a scent reminiscent of breakfast cereal as you print.
3D Printing Process
3D printing is a multi-step process, as outlined in this flow chart. The entire process, up to the actual print, can actually be done at home using free or open source software, which we’ll talk about in each of the steps that require it. Let’s break down the process.
Step 1 – Design/Obtain
Here are the links to the software mentioned in the video:
Step 2 – Check the Model
Step 3 – Slicing
To download Cura for your own device, visit their website.
Step 4 – Check Slices
Step 5 – Printing
Most of the 3D printing process can actually be done at home, using some of the freeware and open source technology we’ve mentioned. Of course, you’re always welcome to come in and work with us, but the design process can be quite lengthy and you might want to be in your pajamas while you work. Once you’re ready to actually print, bring your SD card with the .gcode file over to our 3D printers in the Maker Lab.
As we mentioned earlier, you have two choices of printer, which you would have selected in the slicer stage. A .gcode file created for one printer make will not work on another! See the prefix added by Cura to your .gcode file name.
At this stage, most of the work is simply a matter of turning on the printer, inserting your SD card, and selecting the print file. It’s also a good idea to wipe down the print platform with lens cleaner before you begin.
It’s advised to stay at the printer while the first few layers are extruded, as that’s where most of your issues will occur. If you’re confident in your model once those layers are complete, you are welcome to walk away from the machine and return when it’s completed.
Things That Can Go Wrong
Thank you for completing our Intro to 3D Printing training. Please be sure to complete the quiz. MPL must have a completed quiz on file for you before you are able to use the 3D printer. If you have any questions, or would like someone to be available to help you with your first project, email [email protected] for an appointment. If you want to gather with other DIY-ers in the community, consider dropping in at our Midland Makers program, which runs the first Thursday of the month from 6:30 to 7:45PM.
Laser Cutting Training
Welcome to Midland Public Library’s introduction to laser cutting training course. In order to use the laser cutter in MPL’s Maker Lab, you will need to go through this course and complete the quiz at the end. If you have any questions about content in this training, or would like to book time in the Maker Lab, please email Mel, [email protected]. Don’t forget to download the accompanying handout, as this will assist you with the quiz as well as your creation process.
To get started, let’s look at the laser cutter we use at MPL.
Overview of the Laser Cutter
Midland Public Library (MPL) operates a Fusion Edge 24 laser cutter which is manufactured by the Epilog Corporation and uses a 60W, air cooled, CO2 laser. The laser cutter can engrave, score, and/or cut designs and shapes on flat and cylindrical surfaces using a wide range of materials.
Materials for laser cutting must either be provided by, or approved by, MPL in advance – do not plan on using your own materials without approval.
Lists of allowed and prohibited materials are shown in your handout. Use of prohibited materials is a safety concern and may also cause damage to the machine.
If in doubt, ask!
The laser cutter can cut or engrave flat material up to 24” x 24” (610mm x 610mm). The maximum thickness of material that can be loaded into the machine is 10” (254mm). The maximum practical thickness for cutting material is around 1/4” – 3/8” (6.0mm – 9.5mm).
Features of the Fusion Edge 24
- The Edge 24 comes with its own control software with two parts – the Epilog Job Manager and the Epilog Dashboard. The Job Manager is not used during normal MPL operations. The Dashboard is the main software that allows a user to fully develop and control the laser process of a specific graphic image, project, etc.
- Built-in high resolution real-time video cameras. The two cameras create a single image continuously visible within the Dashboard to show the user the location of the workpiece so that project files may be aligned correctly.
- The Dashboard allows some degree of project file manipulation. Once the graphic file has been printed, i.e., sent to the Dashboard, you can then:
- Align the project with the workpiece,
- Scale the project,
- Ungroup the image and manipulate individual elements of the graphic,
- Copy the project to multiple places on the workpiece.
- Pre-defined laser parameters. For a wide range of acceptable materials, the Dashboard provides an initial setting of the laser parameters, i.e., speed, power and frequency of the laser, to control the cutting, scoring and/or engraving process for the work piece material. We recommend testing the laser parameters on scrap material.
- A red siting laser pointer is mounted in-line with the cutting laser and is used to show where the laser will actually cut the workpiece material.
- A resolution of 75 – 1200 dpi (dots per inch) for engraving surfaces together with advanced ‘dithering’ software to improve engraved image quality.
- A rim-drive rotary attachment for marking and engraving cylindrical objects. The two video cameras are not supported when using the rotary attachment. Careful consideration must be given to graphic image preparation when engraving on non-cylindrical surfaces. Turn OFF the power to the laser cutter before plugging in and unplugging the rotary attachment. Detailed instructions for using the rotary attachment are provided in the Fusion Edge manual, starting at page 142.
Overview of Process to Create a Project
- Obtain or create the files required for the project. Details on this process may be found in your handout.
- Using your preferred graphics design software and the files from step 1, create your project. MPL recommends the use of Inkscape as a graphics design package as it is free. Inkscape is installed on the MakerPlace computers. For a detailed guide on using Inkscape for the laser cutter, check out our Using Inkscape for Laser Cutting Graphics handout. If you are strictly doing an engraving on a flat workpiece and do not need to manipulate the file, you may print directly from the file rather than using Inkscape.
- Place the flat workpiece on the lattice inside the laser cutter. Ensure the workpiece is level.
- Using the touch screen control panel on the Edge 24, auto focus the laser on the workpiece by moving the laser head over your workpiece and pressing ‘auto focus’.
- Print the project from the graphics software selecting the Epilog Edge 24 as the printer.
- This will cause the Dashboard software to open with your project and workpiece shown.
- Within the Dashboard software, align your project image with the workpiece.
- Select the material of the workpiece and confirm all of the parameters controlling the laser cutter for cut, score and/or engrave. Ensure that all cut and engrave processes will be performed in the correct sequence (always starting with the inside and moving outwards) and that the engraving will be done in the preferred direction (always bottom to top).
- Press ‘Print’ on the Dashboard and send the project as a job to the Edge 24.
- If required, use the button on the Edge 24 control panel to move the siting laser around the perimeter of the project to determine if the alignment is correct.
- Start the laser exhaust fan using the small rotary knob near the Edge 24.
- Start the air assist pump, using the small rocker switch on the pump, to ensure particles and debris are cleared directly from the cutting area.
- Ensure the cover is closed and start the job from the control panel of the Edge 24.
- When the job has finished wait a few seconds for the fumes to clear and switch off the exhaust fan and the air assist pump.
- Remove the finished project and scrap material. Clean inside with vacuum cleaner if required.
Notes: Always focus the laser immediately after you load your work piece material. Unless the laser is focused correctly, the image of your workpiece in the Dashboard software will not be in the correct position.
The Dashboard Software
To Prepare a Photo for Engraving
There are a number of options for preparing a photo for engraving, depending on the amount of preparation needed and individual comfort with photo editing. For instructions on preparing photos in Inkscape, refer to the laser cutting and Inkscape handouts. MPL has purchased PhotoLaser Plus (PLP) and installed it on the computer next to the laser cutter in the Maker Lab; instructions for this software can be found in the Maker Lab. Note that PLP cannot remove backgrounds, so that must be done in other software first. Regardless of your software choice, the key steps to editing a photo for laser engraving are greyscaling and sharpening. It is also advised to save the image at the same dpi at which you wish to engrave.
Lasering your designs at MPL costs $0.05 per square inch on materials the library provides, or $1.00 + $1.00 per hour on your own materials.
The laser within the Edge 24 has a finite operating life before it has to be replaced.
Materials for laser cutting must either be provided by, or approved by, MPL in advance – do not plan on using your own materials without approval. Remember that your handout includes a list of materials that are allowed and prohibited.
Thank you for completing our Intro to Laser Cutting training. Please be sure to complete the quiz. MPL must have a completed quiz on file for you before you are able to use the laser cutter. If you have any questions, or would like someone available to help you with your first project, email Mel, [email protected], for an appointment.
The Library has a subscription to Make Magazine and to Beanz (for kids). You’ll also find reference books on Maker projects in the MakerPlace. Check out our subscription to LinkedIn Learning, an online learning platform for business, software, technology, and creative skills – it includes professionally taught and produced video lessons. Sign in here using your MPL card.
Share your projects or interests with the whole community – send recommended posts, photos, etc. to [email protected].
You can find the documentation for our Bots & Bytes coding and robotics program, run with community volunteers, here.
You can also join in on our Facebook group, Midland Makers.