Meet Ted

Ted is a 3D Printer. An Ultimaker 2+ to be exact. He was brought to our library by a delivery man, but his true origin is a Fund hosted by the Friends of the Library, called the Reiher Memorial Fund. Some of you may not know this, but Robert L. Reiher was the longest-serving mayor of West Caldwell, NJ, having been consistently re-elected as mayor for 17 years. He spent over 30 years as a public servant, either as a councilman, mayor, or library trustee. In a time of turbulent politics, his legacy is a clear reminder of the honor of public service.

It is thanks to his legacy that the West Caldwell Public Library is what it is today. Our public meeting room was constructed much in part due to his donations, donations made entirely based on his belief that, “a Library is a treasure to enhance and expand.” Nothing better exemplifies this belief than a pursuit of the intellectual and imaginative through technological education and development (AKA Ted. Get it?).

While we’re on the topic of technological advancement, what exactly does Ted do? Ted may look like an oven and smell like waffles when he’s working, but his primary purpose is to break limitations in engineering. 3D Printers were officially invented in 1986, exactly 30 years ago, to create prototypes for engineers quickly and efficiently. They were not called 3D Printers then, instead gaining the delightful nomenclature of, “stereolithography machine,” and “fused deposition modeling.” Their goal was to create a model or prototype through additive manufacturing, the process of, “adding many very thin layers of material, layer on top of layer” (2).

In effect, this machine is able to produce a completely original design in a few hours with low-cost materials instead of the expensive and drawn-out process inventors were hampered by decades before.

Carl Deckard with an early 3D Printer. Photo courtesy of UT-Austin via

If 3D Printers were invented in 1986, why are they only coming into prominence now, 30 years later? It all started in 2005 with the RepRap project founded by Dr. Adrian Bower. This community made 3D Printers open-source, which means they rebuilt 3D Printers from the ground up in order to make their designs accessible to the public. Ten years later, less expensive 3D Printers now compete in quality with scientific machines and the race for innovation moves faster than ever.

The library moved to make 3D Printing open to the public out of this same desire for free knowledge and low-cost innovation. With open-source websites like, where creators share their 3D-designs with the public, and online creation tools like Tinkercad and Charmr, being an inventor is now something that everyone can do.

All we needed to make it a reality for our community was Ted. And now he’s here!

Learn more about 3D Printers here.

Keep an eye out for more articles on how to submit a 3D Design of your own as a West Caldwell resident.

Links and Resources:

1. “Obituary: Robert L. Reiher.” The Star Ledger. Link:

2. “3D Printing: On Its Historical Evolution and the Implications for Business.” Matias, Elizabeth and Bharat Rao. Link:

3. “3D printing pioneers weigh in on the future: ‘It’s going to integrate into society'”
Brewster, Signe. Link:

4. Thingiverse. Link:

5. Tinkercad. Link:

6. Charmr. Link:

7. Infographic. Link:

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