3D Printing creates a three dimensional solid based on a computer generated Stereo Lithography (.STL) File. You can create a .stl file in almost any modeling program that can generate 3D objects (Rhino, Revit, AutoCad, FormZ, Viz, 3Ds-Max, etc.).

Here are some parameters you should keep in mind when creating your .stl file.

  • Size - The maximum size you can print is: 8" L x 6" W x 8" H
  • Scaling - We require that all .stl files are in inches and scaled to the desired print size.  This scaling can be performed in any 3D modeling program and should be done prior to bringing the file down to the lab.  Keep in mind the scale you would like to print your model when you begin 3D modeling; a 1/16” of a 3D printed model at 1’=1/32” scale is 6” thick full scale.
  • Thickness and Shape - The Stratasys UPrint 3D printer uses ABS plastic that is extruded using a heated element. In general, we recommend a minimum feature size of about of 1/16" to avoid breakage.

Please see the Wiki how-to page for additional helpful tips regarding preparation of a .stl file and the stereolithography process.  The biggest tip of all, however, is just to understand the 3D printing process and incorporate it’s necessary parameters into your model design while modeling with care. For example, this is the .stl creation process in Rhino.

Printing

  1. Verify that your model is solid, with no open edges. In Rhino, use the "ShowEdges" command to view open or naked edges.
  2. Export an .stl file from your 3D modeling software of choice.
  3. Bring your prepared .stl file down to the Service Desk in the basement of Sutton Hall to have it checked and priced by a member of staff.  There is no reservation system in place for 3D printing; please see the 3D printing wiki page for more information on how jobs are processed.
  4. Students will be notified when their print is complete and the cost of the model will need to be paid when the print is picked up at the Service Desk. 

Model Price

Model cost is the sum of the price of the base price, model material and support material. A solid model that is 5x7" and 1/16" thick will cost approximately $54.  The price of your model can be significantly decreased by minimizing vertical projections. 

Build Time

Build time is highly varible, depending on the size of the model, amount of support material required, etc.  When your .stl file is submitted to the Service Desk you will receive an estimate for when the print will be done that considers both the geometry of your model and other prints in queue. We cannot guarantee completion of models submitted less than 48 hours before a desired deadline. 

Post-Processing

There are three different options for post-processing a 3D printed model.  The options are:

1.    Remove final print from build bed and manually remove raft of support material.

Pros: Possibly easy and is free; you are done immediately.  If there is no support material other than that used in the raft, and if your model is sufficiently strong and thick this is a good option for you. 

Cons: The raft may not be easily removed and the print could be damaged in the process, especially if other features are thin/fragile.

2.     Remove final print from build bed and manually remove raft and all other support material either by had or with tools (pliers, knife, etc.).

Pros: Possibly easy to perform and is free;  may be faster than an EcoWash bath.

Cons: The support material may not be easily removed and the print could be damaged in the process, especially if other features are thin/fragile. The form will not remain as designed; may be slower than an EcoWash bath if there is a large volume of support material to remove.

3.      Remove print from build bed and place into EcoWash bath.

Pros: Automatic process; if you are printing very thin or delicate parts, a wash bath removes the possibly of breakage through manual removal of support materials.

Cons: An EcoWash bath can add a significant amount of time to the overall timeline.