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Central IDEA Lab

Located on the Fourth Floor of Central Library

  The Central IDEA Lab is open by appointment only. Book an appointment today!

IDEA Lab logo

Lab Availability Times

Monday 12 PM - 2 PM 5 PM - 7 PM
Tuesday 12 PM - 2 PM 5 PM - 7 PM
Wednesday 10 AM - 12 PM 3 PM - 5 PM
Thursday 10 AM - 12 PM 3 PM - 5 PM
  • One 2-hour appointment block per person/day
  • Ages 8 and up only
  • Review policies prior to visit
  • Masks are required while in the lab
The IDEA Lab is located on the fourth floor of the Central Library and combines the previous three labs (Innovation Lab, Digital Memory Lab, IDEA Lab) into one convenient space for all your making, digitizing, and digital media needs.
 

Makerspace

Makerspace Icon
Learn more about the equipment available in our makerspace.
 
Please review all policies and instructional materials prior to using the equipment.
 

3D Print by Request

We are excited to offer 3D Print by Request service! Send us your 3D designs and get them printed for pick up at the Central Library. At this time, we are unable to acommodate in person printing. Questions? Email lab staff at: weblibrary@sandiego.gov or call us at 619-236-5800.

 

3D Print by Request Procedures

  • Complete 3D Print Request form (all fields are required to process your request).
  • Send request form and .STL file to weblibrary@sandiego.gov.
    File name should read: Your First_Last Name_Date Submitted_Model Name.stl
    Example: Jane_Doe_1.2.20_thebestmodelever.stl

Policy

  • Files will be printed in the order in which they are received.

  • 3D print model must be in .STL format.

  • Turnaround time for print requests will be at least one week, you will be notified when print is ready for pickup.

  • Prints must be picked up at the holds pick up desk (Station #1) at the Central Library.

  • 3-hour print time limit per week.

  • Multi-Part Prints: Please submit separate requests for each part of your project.

  • The library staff reserves the right to refuse any 3D print request.

  • Staff cannot guarantee model quality or stability, color, nor confidentiality of designs.
    Note: Staff do not remove rafts and supports

Silhouette Cameos | Vinyl Cutters

DIY with the Silhouette CAMEO which is an electronic cutting tool for personal use. The Silhouette CAMEO is amazingly versatile. It can create intricate projects of all sizes from small (1/4" wide) to large (12" wide) and has an unlimited cutting length. It can cut paper, cardstock, vinyl, fabric, and other materials. 

Machines Available

  • Silhouette Cameo 3
  • Silhouette Cameo 4

Using the Silhouette Cameos

  • The lab provides access to a laptop, cutting mats, and weeding tools, depending on availability.
  • Please bring your own project materials, such as paper, cardstock, or vinyl, and a laptop with the design software (Silhouette Studio) pre-installed.
  • Silhouette Studio can import a variety of image file types including the following: STUDIO/STUDIO3 files, GSD/GST files, DXF files, JPG, PNG, BMP, GIF, and TIF files.
  • Materials can be up to 12" wide. Length is limited to 12" for paper and can be longer for certain materials.

Instructional Guides & Resources

Silhouette Cameo Uses:

  • Silhouette Cameos can cut and draw on different types of materials. 
  • Card making or scrapbooking.
  • Make custom vinyl decals.
  • Make stencils for glass etching or screen printing.
  • Cut fabric for custom textile projects.
  • And more!

Sewing, Embroidery & Serger Machines

Using the Sewing, Embroidery & Serger Machines
  • Please bring your own project materials, such as fabrics, bobbins, special needles and threads.
  • Depending upon availability, some threads, a bobbin, and a basic sewing machine needle will be provided. Additionally, irons, ironing boards, cutting mats, and fabric scissors may also be available.

Sewing & Embroidery Machines

  • Brother LB6800PRW | Project Runway™ Limited Edition Combination Machine
  • Brother SE400 | Computerized Sewing and Embroidery Machine with 4" x 4" Embroidery Area
  • Brother LB5000 | Computerized Sewing & Embroidery Machine
Sewing Machines
  • Brother HC1850 | 130-Stitch Computerized Sewing Machine with Built-in Sewing Font & Wide Table
  • Brother CS6000i | 60-Stitch Computerized Sewing Machine with Wide Table

Serger

  • Brother Homelock 1034D | 3/4 Thread Serger with Differential Feed
Instructional Guides & Resources

CNC Milling Machine

DIY with Carvey, a fully enclosed computer-controlled router, that can make quick work of a range of materials, including woods and plastics

Using the Carvey Milling Machine

  • The lab currently has a Carvey CNC Milling Machine by Inventables.
  • It is recommended that you bring your own bit if you have a specialized project. Please bring your own project materials.
  • Limited bits will be provided; the lab has the following bits to use upon availability:
    • 1/16” Fishtail
    • 1/8” Straight 2F
    • 1/8” Ball 2F
    • 1/8” Upcut 1F
    • 1/8” Fishtail 2F
    • Carbide Tipped 2Flute Straight
    • Carbide V Bit, 90 deg, ¼ shank, 1/8 bit
    • Solid Carbide 1F Engraving Bit, ¼ in, 60 deg
    • Some PCB milling bits 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 deg
    • Collets to hold the bits: 3/16”, 1/4”, 1/8” 
  • Only the following materials are approved: Carvey Approved Materials  
  • To use the Carvey, users must have files imported into Easel to communicate with the machine. 
  • The Easel app accepts the file types: SVG, DXF and gcode format.

Instructional Guides & Resources

Things you can make/cut with the Carvey:

  • PCB Circuit boards
  • Wooden toys/signs/etc.
  • Stamps
  • Aluminum 
  • ABS Plastic
  • Machine Wax
  • And More!

Glowforge Pro | Laser Printer

DIY with Glowforge, you’ll put a piece of material like leather, wood, or acrylic in the machine and it carves out your product using laser light.  
 
Using the Glowforge Pro
  • The lab does not provide materials. Please bring in your own project materials.
  • ONLY PROOFGRADE MATERIALS are approved and can be used with the Glowforge. 
  • You will have access to the Glowforge app in the lab in order to upload your designs to the machine and edit the laser print settings. 
  • The Glowforge app is compatible with JPG, PNG, SVG, PDF, and other file formats. You can design with any software that saves as a PDF, including dozens of graphic design software choices like Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, Autodesk 360, and Sketchup.  

Instructional Guides & Resources

Dye Sublimation | Printer & Heat Press

DIY with Dye sublimation, or dye sub, which is a digital printing process that uses heat and pressure to put ink into a product instead of on it. It utilizes a special dye and a molecular bonding process to apply and permanently adhere HD images, graphics and photos to polymers and polyesters at a sub-surface level. 

Using the Dye Sublimation Machines

  • The lab has a Sawgrass SG500 dye sublimation printer and a HIX SwingMan heat press machine.
  • Accepted file types for designs include .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .bmp, .heic, .heif, .tiff, .pdf, .eps, and .ps. with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI.
  • The lab will provide up to 5 sheets of transfer paper, upon availability. The lab's preferred sublimation paper is TexPrint-DTR Heavy.
  • Please bring your own project materials. Polyester and polyester blend fabrics yield best results as dye sub ink is designed to bond to these materials. Designs will show up best on a white surface. The item should be flat so the heat press can apply pressure and heat uniformly on the item.

Instructional Guides & Resources

Dye sublimate on such items as:

  • Shirts
  • Tote bags
  • Aprons
  • Pillowcases
  • Potholders
  • And More!

Digitize

DV, miniDV, & HDV are currently unavailable for booking. 

Digitize Icon
An innovative conversion space where you can learn how to access, digitize, and share videos, audio recordings, photographs, and slides. The lab offers four separate transfer stations, with each station offering different transfer formats. Please note that most transfers will happen in real time.
 
Check out La Jolla/Riford Library's IDEA Lab to see what digitization services they offer.
 

Accepted Formats:

  • VHS & VHS-C
  • DV & miniDV
  • Betamax
  • Video8, Hi8 & Digital8
  • 8mm & Super8 Reel
  • Photos & Papers
  • 35mm Negatives
  • 35mm Slides
  • Audio Cassette
  • Vinyl Record
  • Zip Disk
  • 3.5" Floppy Disk
 
Please review all policies and instructional materials prior to using the equipment. 
 

Station 1: Video Transfer (VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS, DV, miniDV & HDV)

Media transferred at this station:

Station 2: Video Transfer (Video8, Hi8, Digital8 & Betamax)

Media transferred at this station:

Station 3: Reel to Reel Conversion (Standard 8mm & Super 8mm Film)

Media transferred at this station:

Station 4: Audio & Data Transfer (Vinyl Records, Cassette, Zip Disk, 3.5" Floppy & Data Cards)

Media transferred at this station:

Station 5: Scanning (Papers, Photographs & 35mm Negative Filmstrips & Slides)

Media transferred at this station:

Digital Arts

Digital Arts Icon
Multimedia stations where you can access video, sound, graphics, animation, and architecture software to explore technology and the arts. 
 
Please review all policies prior to using the computers.
 
 

 

Available Software Programs

  • 3D Design: Blender, OpenSCAD, Sculptris, SketchUp
  • Adobe: Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Media Encoder, Acrobat x Pro
  • Audio/Visual: Final Cut Pro X, iMovie, iPhoto, Logic Pro X, Photo Booth, Encore
  • Coding: Arduino, Python, Unity
  • Graphic Design: Bamboo Wacom Dock (and tablets), GIMP, Inkscape, Krita, Silhouette Studio

Policies and Procedures (In additon to the Central IDEA Lab policies)

  • IDEA Lab computers are intended to be used for projects that require the IDEA Lab’s specialized software. Computers for email, job searching, and other internet browsing are available throughout the library.

  • Save your work to your own removable or cloud storage at the end of each session.

  • All equipment (computers, digital pens, headphones) must be signed out with a staff member for use in the IDEA Lab.

  • Library staff reserves the right to ask you to discontinue working on your project in the IDEA Lab.

Lab Policies

  • Patrons are expected to comply with all Library Rules of Conduct.
  • Masks are to be worn over nose and mouth at all times, in the lab.
  • Maximum 2-hour appointment per user/day.
  • The IDEA Lab is intended to be used for creative projects that require specialized equipment and software. General use computers are located throughout the library.
  • All work must be saved on personal removable or cloud storage. Personal files will not be saved, as computers will be wiped after each session.
  • Library staff reserves the right to ask you to discontinue working on your project in the IDEA Lab.
  • Digital pens must be signed out with a staff member. For use only in lab.
  • Patrons must bring your own materials to use with makerspace equipment, except for 3D printing.
  • Maximum Occupancy in Lab = 3 patrons + up to 2 staff

All Lab Policies & Procedures

Technology Software Resources List

The following technology software resources list is compiled to provide you with suggestions for web-based, downloadable, open source, freeware and low-cost software to use on your personal devices. Some may be accessible in the IDEA Lab.

Open Source 3D Modeling Software

  • AutoDesk Fusion 360 - 3D CAD, CAM, and CAE tool. It connects your entire product development process in a single cloud-based platform that works on both Mac & PC.
  • Blender - Home of the Blender project - Free and Open 3D Creation Software.
  • Design Spark - Resources & tools to aid engineers in design process.
  • OnShape - CAD system. Eliminates design gridlock & helps engineers do their best work.
  • OpenSCAD - Create solid 3D CAD objects. Available for Linux/UNIX, MS Windows/Mac OS X.
  • Sculptris - Sculpting software program, focus on the concept of modeling clay.
  • SketchUp - 3D modeling software that's easy to learn and incredibly fun to use.
  • Thingiverse - Download files and build them with your laser cutter, 3D printer, or CNC.
  • TinkerCAD - 3D CAD design tool. Quickly turn ideas into a CAD model for a 3D printer.
 

3D Splicing Software for Printing

  • Simplify3D - Compatible with hundreds of 3D printers. See videos.
  • MakerBot Print - Free software to prepare, manage, and share 3D prints.
  • Ultimaker Cura - Ultimaker Cura prepares your model for 3D printing.
 

Open Source Electronic Prototyping

  • Arduino - Enabling users to create interactive electronic object.
 

Computer Programming

  • Code Academy - An online freemium interactive platform that offers free coding classes in 12 different programming languages (Python, Java, JavaScript, Ruby, SQL, and Sass, markup languages HTML and CSS).
  • Hopscotch - An app that helps people learn how to code through a visual language. Optimized for coding games. The programming language centers around "blocks" that you drag and drop to build routines.
  • Raspberry Pi - A tiny and affordable computer. Learn programming.
  • Scratch - Create your own interactive stories, games, & animations.
 

Web Development

  • CodePen - A social development environment. Allows you to write code in the browser, and see the results of it as you build. A useful and liberating tool for developers of any skill, and particularly empowering for people learning to code. Focusing on front-end languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and preprocessing syntaxes that turn into those things.
  • Coffeecup - Responsive Web Design Tools and HTML Software.
  • W3Schools - A web developers site, with tutorials and references on web development languages (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, SQL, Python, W3.CSS, and Bootstrap), covering most aspects of web programming.
 

Free Graphic Design Software

  • GIMP - A free and open-source raster graphics editor used for image retouching and editing, free-form drawing, converting between different image formats, and more specialized tasks.
  • Inkscape - Professional quality vector graphics software (Linux, Mac OS X & Windows).
  • Krita - Raster graphics editor, designed primarily for digital painting & animation.
  • Silhouette Studio - Design & send to Silhouette electronic cutting machine.
 

Open Source Video Editors

  • DaVinci Resolve - Professional offline and online editing, color correction, audio post production and now visual effects.
  • Lightworks - Professional non-linear editing system for editing and mastering digital video in vari-ous formats, including 2K and 4K resolutions, and television in PAL, NTSC, and high-definition formats.
  • Shotcut - Cross-platform video editor for Windows, Mac and Linux.
 

Photo Editors

  • Adobe Photoshop Express Editor - Get all the essential tools, including Lightroom and Photoshop, for crafting incredible images every day.
  • Fotor - Free online designer and editing tool catering to all your photographic and image creation needs! Add filters, frames, text, stickers and more.
  • GIMP - Free and open-source raster graphics editor used for image retouching and editing, free-form drawing, converting between different image formats, and more specialized tasks.
  • Pixlr Editor - A free robust browser photo editor. Have full control over your images, including layers and effects.
 

Free CNC Milling Software

  • Easel - 3D Carving Made Easy. Design, import, and carve for free from a single program with Easel.
 

Project Ideas & Resources

  • Instructables - Learn how to make anything with Instructables. Easy to follow step-by-step instructions, online classes, and a vibrant maker community.
  • Inventables Projects - Inventables: the hardware store for designers. We help designers buy the products they need.
  • MAKE - Celebrates your right to tweak, hack, and bend any technology to your will.

Questions? Email us at weblibrary@sandiego.gov or give us a call at 619-236-5800