Idea Lab Logo


What is it? (back to top)

The Idea Lab is Baldwin Public Library's new space for hands-on exploring, tinkering, and learning. This new service will open September 5, and will continue evolving as everyone -- staff and public -- continues to learn and grow, so please keep checking in here to see what's going on in the Lab! This page will be regularly updated with new information and new events. We want to encourage learning and collaboration through access to new technologies and machines, and ALL experience levels are welcome. We will offer how-to events to learn new skills, as well as time and space to practice and develop them. Check out the info below to plan your next trip to the Idea Lab!

Equipment (back to top)

Currently, our Lab has two machines:

  • Full Spectrum H-Series Laser Cutter with a 20" X 12" inch cutting area

Image of Laser Cutter

  • CubePro Duo 3D printer with a 9.5" (width) X 9" (height) X 10.5" (depth) printing area


Software (back to top)

Located next to the Idea Lab is our new computer lab, which has six computers with a variety of software for designing to print on our machines, as well as software that allows you to do some fun and powerful things apart from our machines.

  • Vector graphics editors used to design for the laser cutter: Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape
  • Computer-aided Design (CAD)/3D modeling software used to design for the 3d printer: TinkerCAD, SketchUp, Blender, etc.

In addition to this machine-related software, you can also access:

  • the full Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Unity 2017
  • Microsoft Office

The computer lab is accessible at any time the library is open, but the lab computers do require a pass to use. You can receive a pass to use the software in the computer lab from Idea Lab staff (if we are open) or from a librarian at the Adult Services reference desk (if the Idea Lab is closed).

Material Costs (back to top)

There will be no material costs for Idea Lab certification and no material costs for most Idea Lab events, but any items made on your own may require material costs.

3D printing will charged by the gram and is payable at the Circulation Desk. There is a $1 minimum charge for any print plus a $0.15 per gram charge beyond the initial $1 cost. We will round down if the weight decimal is below a half gram and round up if the weight decimal is above a half gram (e.g. an item weighing 10.44 grams will be charged at the 10 gram price and an item weighing 10.84 grams will be weighed at the 11 gram price). In an effort to avoid material waste we will not change filament colors on request. Please see the 'About 3D Printing' section for the colors currently in the printer.

We will have some materials for the laser cutter available for purchase, but this should not be relied upon and exactly what we have may change. We will try to keep a regular supply of cardboard (free, just ask -- used for testing patterns), paper, acrylic, and wood items, but exactly what types of these items we have will change and we cannot guarantee supply at all times. If you have questions about what is available please email us. You may bring in your own material to use on the laser cutter, but it must be inspected by staff first to avoid any harm to people or machines. No vinyl and no unidentified plastics will be allowed due to potentially harmful fumes released upon cutting. Please leave any identifying labeling on the material to help us inspect it, and bring in receipts if you have them. If you have questions about materials, please email us.

Idea Lab User Agreement (back to top)

To use the Idea Lab in any way you must sign and submit the Idea Lab User Agreement and liability waiver. You must also verify your identity with a photo ID and/or library card.

How to Use the Lab (back to top)

Right now we are focusing on getting users on the laser cutter and 3D printer because we suspect that is where most interest lies. In time, there will be a variety of other ways to use the lab that do not involve just using the machines, including drop-in activities, scheduled events/classes, and activities that focus on design rather than printing.

The Idea Lab is open to BPL cardholders and guests who have signed and submitted the Idea Lab User Agreement and liability waiver. It is best suited for users 10 years of age or older. An adult, 18 years or older, must supervise users under age 10 at all times. Users aged 10-17 must have a parent or legal guardian sign the agreement form on their behalf.

Using the 3d printer or laser cutter will require one-on-one 'certification' on each machine, which we think would take about an hour for the 3d printer and two hours for the laser cutter. These can be completed at the same time or separately. After a user has met with us and become certified on a machine they will be able to reserve time on that machine on their own through our Idea Lab calendar; currently we are limiting machine use to once per week, although that may change once we observe usage patterns. Machines can only be reserved during open lab hours when a staff member is present -- and we are currently adding and training staff to extend open lab hours. We want to meet you, ensure a safe and collaborative environment for people and machines, and help you make what you want to make and learn what you want to learn. If you happen to have experience/expertise on either of the machines, share it with us!

To meet us in the Lab and get certified on one of the machines:

  1. Check out our open lab hours and current lab schedule at to see what time might work for you to come to the lab. Plan one hour for each machine you are interested in.
  2. Email us at to say hi, let us know which machine certification(s) you are interested in, what times would work for you, and what experience you have with these machines (no experience is necessary!). The earlier you email the better, as we are not in the Lab every day and may not be able to reply if given short notice. We will reply as soon as possible to set up an appointment for you to come in and get certified. Once your appointment is set we will update our calendar.
  3. After we enter you into our calendar, you will receive an email from Skedda (who makes the calendar software we use) asking you to verify your 'tentative' account with them. You will also receive an email verifying your appointment with us. You will want to verify your account and create a password with Skedda if you plan on making reservations on your own in the future.
  4. Come into the library at the planned time and learn about our lab and the machines! Upon successful certification we will update your Skedda account so that you will be able to make reservations on your own.

You can also drop-in to the Lab at any time during open hours for certification, but we cannot guarantee that staff will be available at that moment to work with you. Appointments are preferred so that we can plan, but we will do our best to accommodate everyone.

After certification, to reserve time on a machine:

  1. Visit our Lab calendar at You will see two reservable options -- laser cutter and 3d printer. You will also see available hours and unavailable/booked hours for those machines. Right now, reservations are set for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 2 hours (please see the 3d printing section of this webpage if your print will take longer than 2 hours) -- this may change as we observe usage patterns. We are also restricting users to one appointment per machine per week, to make them as available to as many people as we can. You may also only reserve machines a maximum of 14 days in advance and a minimum of 12 hours in advance. Thank you for following our access procedures!
  2. Please see the 3d printing section of this webpage if your print will take longer than 2 hours. Thank you.
  3. Click to make a reservation on the machine of your choice. Please only reserve one machine at a time. Log in to your Skedda account, complete the form (including the notes field), and submit to make your appointment. You will receive an email verifying the reservation and should see the calendar update if you've completed it correctly.
  4. You can also email us at to make an appointment if you prefer email. We will respond as soon as possible.
  5. Arrive at the Lab at your scheduled time and check-in with staff before using any of the machines. After check-in you are free to use the machines. Staff will be in the Lab if you have questions.

You can also drop-in to the Lab at any time during open hours for machine use if you've already been certified, but we cannot guarantee that machines or staff will be available at that moment to work with you. Appointments are preferred so that we can plan, but we will do our best to accommodate everyone.

Hours (back to top)

Hours for the Idea Lab will be regularly updated here.

Hours will be in flux as we continue adding and training staff to work in the lab. As we add more staff, we will continue expanding our open hours. The goal is to eventually have consistent weekly hours. Please check here for hours before making your trip in, as they may change depending on staff availability. Thank you for your patience!

Current open hours for the lab are:

  • Saturday, 9/30: 10am - 1pm & 2pm - 5pm
  • Tuesday, 10/3: 1pm - 9pm
  • Wednesday, 10/4: 12pm - 8pm
  • Thursday, 10/5: 10am - 1pm
  • Friday, 10/6: 10am - 5pm
  • Tuesday, 10/10: 1pm - 9pm
  • Wednesday, 10/11: 12pm - 8pm
  • Thursday, 10/12: 10am - 1pm
  • Saturday, 10/14: 10am - 5pm
  • Monday, 10/16: 1pm - 430pm & 530pm - 9pm
  • Tuesday, 10/17: 1pm - 430pm & 530pm-9pm
  • Thursday, 10/19: 10am - 1pm
  • Friday, 10/20: 10am - 1pm & 2pm - 5pm
  • Tuesday, 10/24: 1pm - 9pm
  • Wednesday, 10/25: 12pm - 8pm
  • Thursday, 10/26: 10am - 1pm
  • Saturday, 10/28: 10am - 5pm
  • Tuesday, 10/31: 1pm - 9pm
  • Wednesday, 11/1: 12pm - 8pm
  • Thursday, 11/2: 10am - 1pm
  • Friday, 11/3: 10am - 5pm

About 3D Printing (back to top)

If your print will take more than 2 hours, then give us your .stl file and email address and we will print it when we are able to and then email you when it's ready for pickup.  Right now we are not accepting 3d print submissions by email. Please come in, say hi, tell us about your project, and print it if time allows. If there is not enough time for your print, leave it with us to print when we are able.

Current material in the 3D printer is: PLA.

Current filament colors in the 3D printer are: white and black.

More info to come.

About Laser Cutting (back to top)

More info to come.

Events (back to top)

We will be posting more events, including regular getting-to-know-the-machines workshops, one-time project based events, and events for learning design software soon!


  • Teen Coding Club
  • Every other Tuesday from 7:00pm - 8:30pm
  • September: 12, 26
  • October: 10, 24
  • November: 7, 21

Whether you are tech-savvy or just learning how to code, this club is for you. Personal laptops are welcome and encouraged, but not necessary. Grades 6-12. Registration is required, space is limited. Click here to register.

Contact (back to top)

To contact us to make an appointment in the Lab or to ask any questions you have about the Idea Lab, please email us at or call us at 248-554-4659.