3D Printing Basics
- 3D Printing is a process for making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital file (.stl or .obj)
- It does this by laying down layer on top of layer of a material until the object is complete.
- The material our printers use is plastic (ABS, PETG and PLA) which come in spools of filament.
- The plastic filament is heated to very high temperatures in the extruder until it is soft enough to make the layers.
- As soon as the plastic is laid down on the print bed, it begins to cool and harden again.
- If you know how to use 3D modeling software (TinkerCAD, Rhinoceros, Sketchup etc.) you can create your own models to print.
- Or you can find 3D printable files on websites like Thingiverse or Youmagine.
- Either way, in order to print on our 3D printers, your files need to be in .obj or .stl file formats.
- These files then need to be opened in a slicer program that is compatible with the printer you are using. These programs tell the printer how to print the file (How big do you want to print it? How thick should the layers be? Does the print need supports? etc.)
- Once the file has been “sliced” it can be sent to the printer.
- Sometimes prints fail. This can happen for many reasons. It may be a problem with the file, how the file was sliced, or the printer itself. If the problem can be found and fixed, the print will usually be successful.
3D Printing Safety
- Parts of the 3D printer can get very hot.
- Do not touch the extruder
- In order to melt the plastic, the metal nozzle where the plastic comes out can get up to 250 degrees C (482 degrees F). If you touch it, it can burn you very badly.
- The print bed is also heated and can get very warm to the touch.
- If you experience a burn while using the printer, notify a librarian immediately.
- If something is going wrong with the printer, turn it off.
- Do not pull the filament out of the printer
- Do not try to physically stop the printer.
How to use our 3D Printers
We have two 3D Printers: the Dremel Digilab 3D45 and the Lulzbot Mini.
Although the following manuals and videos explain how to setup and adjust the printer, do not attempt to make adjustments or recalibrate the printer without the assistance of a librarian.
3D printer filament should only be changed by the Idea Factory Librarian.
Dremel Digilab 3D45
Steps to 3D print in the Idea Factory
- Prepare your .stl or .obj file in the slicer:
- For the Dremel Digilab 3D45: 3DPrinterOS
- For the Lulzbot Mini: Cura for Lulzbot
- Before printing, have the Idea Factory librarian approve your print.
- If necessary, ask a librarian to change the filament.
- Save and transfer the sliced file to a thumb drive (USB drive)
- Start the print.
- Monitor your print for the entire printing process.
- If your print is failing, stop the printer.
- Whether the print is complete or failed, wait for the print bed to cool.
- Remove your print from the print bed.
- Notify the Idea Factory Librarian when you have finished using the printer.