Queensland State Library to 3D print replica of rare braille globe

Oct 11, 2017 | By Julia

It’s been over 60 years since Richard Frank Tunley created his original braille globe in Queensland, Australia. Known as “the fairy godfather of blind children,” Tunley dedicated his life to improving the lives of visually impaired children and adults by producing braille globes, maps, models, doll houses and games. Among those creations, Tunley’s original braille globe stands out as an important learning tool, and an invaluable heritage item in Australian history. In recognition of Tunley’s work, the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) and the Queensland Library Foundation have come together to recreate the heritage globe ‒ via 3D printing ‒ for a younger generation to enjoy.

SLQ technicians will replicate the rare globe, which Tunley created by installing metal plates on a wooden sphere, thanks to recent technological advancements and a $10,000 state funding package. The individual landmasses were originally shown by raised shapes and labels inscribed in braille, a unique “Tunley touch” that SLQ staff plan to recreate through photogrammetry.

High-fidelity photographs will be taken from all angles, and then virtually pieced together using 3D modelling software to make an exact digital rendering. “That then gets made into plans that are printed out on a 3D printer,” SLQ content manager director Margaret Warren said. “[The globe] won’t be the same as the original because it will be in a 3D resin or plastic.”

Still, the 3D printed replica will allow the new globe to be touched, handled, and explored just as the original was intended, allowing Tunley’s vision to come to life once again. Accompanying digital plans and learning notes will be shared internationally as well.

The fragile 1950s version, on the other hand, will be rescued from storage, treated by SLQ preservation staff, and placed on display as part of a State Library of Queensland exhibition starting in December.

Richard Frank Tunley

SLQ State Librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald noted that the original Tunley globe remains a marvel of Queensland ingenuity, enterprise and skill. “The Tunley globe is a truly remarkable creation and a unique, perhaps unknown, Queensland story,” McDonald said.

The $10,000 funding package was recently awarded to the project at the SLQ’s annual Crowd Giving event. There, a room full of heritage lovers and philanthropists debated and discussed three new SLQ projects before voting that the Tunley globe’s restoration and replication was most worthy of their collective financing.

“SLQ is immensely grateful to the donors who have put their money behind making this fascinating piece of Queensland history discoverable and accessible for a new generation of Queenslanders,” McDonald said.

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At the Idyllwild Library, people are going nuts for 3D printing.
Photo by Marshall Smith

Three-dimensional printing is the rage, especially at the Idyllwild Library. “It’s cutting edge and it’s here,” said Shannon Ng, branch library manager. “So many people are interested in it, both young and older patrons of the library. With 3D printing [also called additive manufacturing] you can print food, jewelry with gold and [human] hearts [using bio-printing processes]. There are thousands of jobs opening in this new technology.

“And what better place is there to learn about this new technology than at a library?  And it’s free. This is lifelong learning at its best and has been one of my huge goals as an educator,” she said. 3D printing is being used in tool, clothing, food, car, truck and aircraft design and production, and new uses are constantly being explored.

Ng said it takes a town such as Idyllwild, with many people interested in learning, to appreciate and be open to new technology. “There’s an open-mindedness here and a willingness to try something different. It’s like a college town in that respect.” Ng noted it’s even more impressive that local nonprofits step up to fund this technology for public use at the library.

Altogether, the printer and accessories price out at nearly $5,000, according to Ng. The Pine Cove Property Owners Association has pledged $3,000, the Rotary International of Idyllwild $500, and several other organizations, including Idyllwild Association of Realtors, Soroptimists International of Idyllwild and Friends of the Idyllwild Library are planning to contribute.

In addition to the printer, the library project includes purchasing hand-held microscopes that transmit images to a computer screen to help illustrate the object to be printed, a scanner and two laptops to assist with programming.

“It’s all about exploration,” said Ng. “There are tons of potentials for education in this technology.”

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3-D Printers for Libraries (Library Technology Reports)

As the maker movement continues to grow and 3-D printers become more affordable, an expanding group of hobbyists is keen to explore this new technology. In the time-honored tradition of introducing new technologies, many libraries are considering purchasing a 3-D printer. Jason Griffey, an early enthusiast of 3-D printing, has researched the marketplace and seen several systems first hand at the Consumer Electronics Show. In this report he introduces readers to the 3-D printing marketplace, covering such topics as

  • How fused deposition modeling (FDM) printing work
  • Basic terminology such as build plate, spool, nozzle hot end, direct extruder, and Bowden extruder
  • Plastics used, such as ABS, PLA, and others
  • Descriptions, price ranges, and filament specs for 3-D printers from MakerBot, Printrbot, Solidoodle, and other manufacturers
  • Suggested staff skills for performing basic maintenance tasks
  • Where to find both ready-to-use designs and the software for customizing, from beginning to advanced systems

Check Out Our Website For Details…

Chico branch library opens 3D printing lab for teens

CHICO, Calif. –

The Chico branch library has opened a 3D printing and digital media lab, free to teens ages 12 to 17.

The center, sponsored by the Chico Friends of the Library, will allow Butte County youth to work with cutting edge technology.

Teens can download plans or design their own to print. Some examples have been a cell phone case and a mini minion from the movie.

You can schedule a time slot by calling the Chico Branch of the Butte County Library at 530-891-2726.

KRCR News Channel 7’s Stephanie Barnes will be checking out the printer today.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Mini-Survey on Library Online Tutorials – Chances to Win 3D Printing Service and Coffee Coupon

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