Guest post by Nelle Robb
3D printing is a manufacturing process. Unlike many manufacturing processes, such as cutting, milling, drilling, sanding, etc., that remove material, 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process, adding material instead of taking it away. Specifically, it takes a material – usually a plastic filament – and builds an object layer by layer. It’s like making a coil clay pot, but with a much higher degree of precision and detail.
Watch this video to see our 3D printer in action.
Our large 3D printer uses two different types of plastic filaments –model plastic (which comes in several colors), and soluble plastic, which acts as scaffolding for the model as it’s being built, then is dissolved away in a special bath. This enables us to print objects with projections and hold moving parts clear of each other as they are printed.
Our smaller printers use breakaway scaffolding that must be picked off/cut off when the part is finished.
Material properties: 3D printed objects are anisotropic, which is to say their material properties change depending on the direction that they are measured. An example of anisotropic material is wood – stronger in some directions due to the grain of the wood. Similarly, 3D printed objects have a ‘grain’ that results in a printed object being stronger in some directions than others. Specifically, printed objects are susceptible to shear forces between each printed layer. If it is important that a part be strong in a particular direction, please state the specific orientation you want the part to be printed when you submit the job.
- 8” x 8” x 6” build area
- Prints in ABS plastic
- Layers are .010” thick
- Uses soluble (dissolvable) plastic for support scaffolding
- $5 – base plate
- $4.88/in3 – model plastic
- $4.76/ in3 – support plastic
- 12cm x 12cm x 12cm build area
- Prints in ABS plastic
- Resolution is .2mm
- COSTS – $3.12/ in3
How do I print?
You will submit your job in .stl file format along with the form located on the Digital Scholarship Lab page. Bring the completed form and your job to the Service Desk, or email both to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once submitted, you will be contacted with a price estimate, which is based on the cost of materials – plastic filament and the base plate upon which your object is printed. After your payment has been received, your job will be printed. When it’s finished and ready to go, you will be emailed and you may come to pick up your piece. Don’t forget to bring your ID!
A word to the wise: 3D printing takes time. The pieces shown above took several hours to print, and several more hours to dissolve the scaffolding. We make no guarantees on delivery time. It’s recommended that you allow at least 48 hours for a job to print. But keep in mind, if your entire class has an assignment to 3D print, there will be a line. Don’t leave it until the last minute! (Or Fred here will laugh at you.)