Answered By: Arryn S.
Last Updated: Jul 24, 2018     Views: 275

3D printing is the action or process of making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down many thin layers of a material one on top of another.


What's a 3D printer and what does it do?


A 3D printer takes a 3D image that has been created on a computer or downloaded from a website like Thingiverse. It converts that image into very thin horizontal layers and then builds each horizontal layer using melted filament made of PLA, a PLA/wood fiber combination or metal. (PLA is a biodegradable plastic made from renewable resources like sugar cane or corn starch that becomes moldable when it reaches a specific temperature and then hardens as it cools.) One layer is built at a time on top of the previous layer until the finished product is formed - a 3D replica of your 3D image file!


Here's a short video that shows the creation of a 3D object from start to finish. In the ideaMILL, you can create and submit your digital file to us and we do the printing for you!



What kinds of 3D printers are in the ideaMILL?


The ideaMILL has 2 Ultimaker 3 printers. The filament we have available for your 3D print jobs is PLA, wood fiber PLA, and flexible PLA. 


How do I create a file that can be 3D printed?


3D image files can be created using software installed on a computer or by using web-based programs. There is a lot of information available on 3D printing in LyndaLibrary (accessible for free with your library card) to learn about and start using these programs. Plus, numerous videos exist on YouTube.


The software that we offer on the ideaMILL computers for you to create your own images includes:


A web-based program that you can use is TinkerCAD

You can also access many free designs from a website called Thingiverse. On this website, users upload their designs and share them with others. There is no cost to explore and use the many 3D designs in Thingiverse.  


How do I get my file 3D printed?


To get your 3D file printed, submit your digital file using our online form. Digital file types that we accept at the ideaMILL are .OBJ, .STL, and .3XD files.

Before submitting your digital file, please review the ideaMILL "Acceptable Use of 3D Printers and Scanners" guidelines.


How much does it cost to get something printed?


Printing costs are $0.10 per gram of filament. The cost of the print will be charged to your library account. Unsuccessful prints will still incur filament charges. Refunds are not available.


Have questions? Please don't hesitate to Ask Us!

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