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Patrons making at library event

HCPL is where you can make things happen!

HCPL's Maker Central is dedicated to the ideas that the tools that drive 21st-century innovation and invention should be accessible to all, and that the imagination and the urge to create are the strongest motivations for learning new skills. 

We currently have two maker labs and one digital media lab in operation with plans to open new maker labs in other regions of the county to make the maker experience available to a wider range of Harris County residents.

Go to Create @ HCPL for more ways to make at HCPL.

 

Make @ HCPL: What You Need to Know

Getting Started
  • If you wish to use the library maker equipment, you must attend a free orientation class for each type of maker equipment you wish to use (3D printer, laser cutter, CNC mill machine, etc.). 
  • The orientation class covers the basic operation of the equipment, the tools and techniques needed to use it and HCPL’s maker policy regarding the equipment.
  • When you have successfully completed an orientation class, you will earn a badge that entitles you to book time at any HCPL maker space that contains that equipment. 
  • Most maker equipment has age restrictions, see individual machines for more information
  • For more complete information about individual maker equipment and user requirements, see Detailed Information links below

To get startedBeanstack Logo, sign up for a free HCPL Maker Central account online or by downloading the free app for iOS or Android 

Using Maker Equipment
  • Sign into your existing Maker Central account or sign up for a free account now. (If you registered for HCPL's Summer Reading Program, you may already have an account) 
  • Under the “Programs” tab, click on “Maker Central”.
  • Click on the appropriate badge (If this is your first time using this badge after taking the orientation, please enter the “Secret Code”).
  • Return to the previous screen and click on your machine-specific badge and enter the secret code. For example, if you’ve taken the orientation class for the Full Spectrum Laser, then click on the Full Spectrum Laser icon and enter the secret code to earn the “Full Spectrum Laser” badge.
  • If you have already earned a badge, click on “Rewards” to book a time to use the equipment.
  • Fill out the Equipment Reservation Form and click “Submit”. You will receive an initial email confirming receipt of your request. Within one business day, you should receive an email confirming your request.
  • If you have any questions, please contact the branch library for assistance.
HCPL Maker Locations
Harris County Public Library has 8 Maker Spaces open to the public.

HCPL currently offers 8 Maker Spaces and 2 Maker Labs. Learn more about how to get started being a Maker at HCPL

Map of HCPL Maker Lab Locations

 

Maker Libraries and Equipment
  Location 3D Printing Laser Cutting CNC Milling Vinyl Cutting Sewing Machines Digital Media Lab
ADM

HCPL Administrative Offices

Red Check Red Check Red Check Red Check    
CC Barbara Bush Branch Library Red Check          
FM Clear Lake City - County Freeman Branch Library Red Check Red Check Red Check Red Check   Red Check
EV Evelyn Meador Branch Library Red Check Red Check     Red Check  
BC Katherine Tyra Branch Library @ Bear Creek Red Check          
KW Kingwood Branch Library Red Check       Red Check  
NC North Channel Branch Library Red Check          
TOM Lone Star College - Tomball Community Library Red Check     Red Check    

 

Maker Central Resources

3D Printing
From the practical to the fantastical, 3D printers let your imagination take shape!

3D printers build three-dimensional objects by laying down thin layers of a material, such as melted plastic, based on a computer-generated design. Make a prototype of your invention, a replacement part for a household gadget, a cosplay mask, or just about anything else you can think of.

  • Makers who wish to use one of the library's 3D printers must attend a free orientation class (check the Events Calendar for dates and times) and earn a “3D Printing Badge” created on HCPL’s Maker Central site for the printer you wish to use. The orientation class covers the basic operation of 3D printers, the tools and techniques to create 3D models and HCPL’s 3D Printing Policy. After earning the badge, patrons may reserve time on the 3D printer to work on projects. 
  • The cost of printing is 10¢ per gram of the final part.
  • Makers must be present to begin the print.
  • Makers under age 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

For detailed information about 3D printing at HCPL, click here.

 

Laser Cutting
This cutting edge technology allows you to put your artwork, logo, and other designs on a variety of materials.

Laser cutters use focused light to cut or etch designs onto a variety of materials including wood, acrylic plastics, tile, stone and glass. The laser beam diameter is small and the computer-controlled positioning is very precise. Depending on the material used and the quality of the artwork, lasers are capable of cutting and etching very fine details.

  • Makers who wish to use one of the library's laser cutters must attend a free orientation class (check Events for dates and times) and earn a “Laser Badge” created on HCPL’s Maker Central site. The orientation class covers the basic operation of laser cutters, the tools, and techniques to create your designs and HCPL’s Laser Cutting Policy. After earning the badge, patrons may reserve time on the laser cutter to work on projects. 
  • Use of the laser cutter is free, but you must provide own material to cut and/or etch.
  • Makers must be present throughout the laser cutter job.
  • Makers under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

For detailed information about laser cutting at HCPL, click here.

Mill Machines
CNC mills are computer-controlled carving machines

They are similar to a drill or router bit, is spun at very high speeds and moved to cut/carve the material to be machined. This is a subtractive process which starts with a block of solid material and material is removed to create the finished piece.

  • Makers who wish to use a CNC mill must attend a free orientation class (check Events for dates and times) and earn a “CNC Desktop Mill” badge created on HCPL’s Maker Central site for the machine you wish to use.  The orientation class covers the basic operation of the CNC mill, the tools, and techniques to create the design files and HCPL’s CNC Desktop Mill Policy.  After earning the badge, patrons may reserve time on that machine. 
  • Patrons must be present to supervise the CNC mill job at all times. 
  • Use of the desktop CNC mill is free, but patrons must supply their own materials. 
  • Patrons under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. 

For detailed information on the CNC milling process, click here.

Vinyl Cutter
Create and cut your designs on adhesive vinyl for t-shirts, window decals and more.

A vinyl cutter (sometimes called a vinyl plotter) is a computer-controlled plotting device with a blade instead of a pen. A design is created in a software program and then sent to the cutter where it precisely cuts adhesive vinyl along the paths laid out in the design. The finished product can then adhere to walls, windows, and other surfaces.

Makers who wish to use one of the library vinyl cutters must attend a free orientation class (check the Events Calendar for dates and times) and earn a “Vinyl Cutter Badge” created on HCPL’s Maker Central site for the vinyl cutter you wish to use. The orientation class covers the basic operation of vinyl cutters, the tools, and techniques to create the artwork files and HCPL’s Vinyl Cutter Policy. After earning the badge, patrons may reserve time on that vinyl cutter. 

Use of the vinyl cutter is free, but you must supply the materials to be cut, transfer tape and application material

For detailed information on vinyl cutting at the library, click here.

Innovation Lab
The Jocelyn H. Lee Innovation Lab is a free, community Makerspace at the Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library.

 The Innovation Lab is a place for people of all ages to learn, share resources, work on projects and network with other creative minds.

Classes are offered in the Innovation Lab free of charge to the community. From simple circuits and machine design to computer programming, classes are available for all ages, with an emphasis on hands-on and cooperative learning. A monthly schedule of classes is available at www.hcpl.net.

Featured Tools & Software

  • 3D Gigabot 3D Printer
  • MakerBot Replicator 2 3D Printer
  • Ultimaker 3 3D Printer
  • Full Spectrum 40W CO2 Laser Cutter/Etcher
  • Desktop CNC
  • Signet Dual-Channel Oscilloscope
  • Variable DC Power Supplies
  • Dremel Rotary Tool Workstation
  • Soldering Stations
  • Arduino-compatible development kits
  • Raspberry Pi development kits
  • Autodesk Product Design Suite
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Simplify 3D

Book a time at the Innovation Lab

Digital Media Lab
Located on the 2nd floor of the Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library, this space is made for patrons to learn and Create

The Jocelyn H. Lee Digital Media Lab offers library patrons the opportunity to create and edit audio, music, images, and videos, or to convert old video and audio formats to digital. 

Visit library staff upstairs to find out how you can register for orientation or reserve this exciting creative space.

Featured Tools & Software

  • Two 27” iMac computers
  • Graphics drawing tablet
  • Professional microphone
  • Professional headphones
  • MIDI controller
  • LP/cassette/CD converter
  • DSLR camera with video
  • Green screen
  • VHS/DVD converter
  • Adobe Creative Cloud Suite
  • GarageBand
  • iPhoto
  • iMovie
  • Elgato Video Capture
  • 8mm/Super 8 Digital Converter

Maker Street Blog View HCPL Blog >

Free use of laser cutters at Maker Labs in Harris County Public Libraries

We take "Making" pretty seriously at the library.