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STEAM Lab 3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing General Info

3D Print General

1. What are UDPL’s 3D printer policies and guidelines?

Please click here to see read UDPL’s 3D printer policies and guidelines.

2. What is 3D printing?

3D printing, also occasionally referred to as additive manufacturing, is the process by which digital files are converted into three dimensional objects. The printer melts and extrudes the printing material in a very thin layer. Following the directions of the digital file, the printer builds layer upon layer until object is complete.

3. How long does it take to print?

3d print sizing

Printer speed depends on the size and the resolution of the file being printed. A smaller object will take a shorter period of time; so will an object printed at a lower resolution.

Both of these objects were printed on the UDPL STEAM Lab’s Cube 5. The smaller object (book spines with director Cheri Fiory’s name on them) took less than ten minutes to print. The larger object (a bust of Benjamin Franklin) took approximately four hours to print!



4. What material do the STEAM Lab 3D printers print?

Currently, we are using Polylactic acid (PLA) in our printer. PLA is a bio-degradable polymer  made from renewable resources such as corn starch, tapioca root or sugarcane. The PLA comes in spools (for the Makerbots) or cartridges (for the Cube) that are attached to the printers. We are researching other types of plastics to use in future projects.

5. What programs are used to create files for the 3D printer?

There are many different programs that can be used to create 3D files. Some of them are software programs that need to be installed on computers like AutoCad. Others, like Tinkercad, are run through the internet and can be used without installing anything onto a computer.

The UDPL Steam Lab recommends the following web-based programs to create 3D files:

  • Tinkercad – allows you create files from scratch
  • Autodesk 123D  Design – allows you to create files
  • SketchUp – allows you to create filed from scratch
  • Thingiverse – a website dedicated to the sharing of user-created digital design files
  • Tinkerplay – allows you to create customized action figures
  • Cookie Caster – allows you to create custom cookie cutters
  • Makerbot Printshop – a tablet & smartphone app that allows you to customize objects such as medals, bracelets, and vases
6. Can I print my own files on the 3D printer?

Yes! If you have an .STL or .OBJ file that you would like printed, you can click here to fill out our online submission form. You’ll be able to upload your file and select details like object color right from this form.

The cost will be $10/item, paid at the time the 3D Printing Request Form is submitted. Creations weighing over 50 grams will be charged an additional fee of $.25/g to be paid at pick up. The print fee may be paid online through UDPL’s online store. You will receive a link to the store in your confirmation email. You can also pay in person at the library by cash or check. The fee must be paid before printing can begin. Depending on the size of the job and other uses of the printers, print jobs will take a minimum of one week to be produced.  UDPL cannot do rush 3D print jobs.

Participants in our Intro to 3D Printing classes receive one free print. If you are interested in signing up, please click here to go to see a list of upcoming 3D Printing classes. 

7. What kinds of files can 3D printers print?

3D printers are capable of printing the following file types:

  • STL
  • OBJ
  • GCode
  • X3G/S3G

Files printed on the UDPL STEAM Lab printers must be converted to  .CUBE or .MAKERBOT files in order to be printed correctly.

8. Can you really print 3D scans of people or other objects?

Yes! The STEAM Lab has an iSense scanner that allows us to scan three dimensional objects like people, cars, or other objects! The iSense snaps on to one of the STEAM Lab iPads and uses a laser optical scanner to capture the tiniest details. Once the scan is completed, then the iSense translates the scan into an .STL file that can be printed on either of the STEAM Lab printers.

Here are samples of a 3D scan in different stages of the scanning and printing process:

Marlowe 3D Print

The first one shows the full-color scan as captured by the iSense. The middle image shows a preview of the digital .STL file. The third image shows a completed print!

STEAM Lab 3D Printer – Cube 5

Cube 3D Printer

1. What is the Cube?

The first 3D printer purchased for the UDPL STEAM Lab is the Cube 5 by Cubify. This is one of the smallest 3D printers available – it’s only 13.5″ tall!

Bob Raines Cube 2

Photo by Bob Raines, Ambler Gazette

2. What’s the largest size object the Cube can print?

The maximize object size that the Cube can print is  6″x 6″ x 6″.

3. What colors can the Cube print?

Currently the Cube prints using PLA plastic. We have the following colors available for STEAM Lab programming use:

  • Purple
  • Pale Yellow
  • Neon Green
  • Black
  • Red
  • Navy Blue
  • Neon Orange
  • Silver
  • Bright Yellow
  • White
  • Coral
  • Teal
  • Royal Blue
  • Dark Green

STEAM Lab 3D Printer – MakerBot Replicator 5

MakerBot 3D Printers

1. What is the MakerBot?

The second 3D printer purchased for the UDPL STEAM Lab is the MakerBot Replicator 5. It’s much larger than the Cube and has the capacity to print larger projects!IMG_20150703_081346317_HDR[1]

The third and fourth 3D printers purchased for the UDPL STEAM Lab are MakerBot Replicator Minis. These printers have identical extruders and print quality to the larger Replicator, but a smaller print plate. These smaller printers are ideal for printing single items as opposed to the Replicator that we often use to print four or more objects at a time!


2. What’s the largest size object the MakerBot Replicator can print?

The maximum object size that the MakerBot Replicator can print is 9.9″x 7.8″ x 5.9″.

The maximum object size that the MakerBot Mini can print is 3.9″x 3.9″ x 4.9″.

3. What colors can the Makerbot print?

Currently the Makerbota print using PLA plastic. We have the following colors available for STEAM Lab programming use:

  • White
  • Warm Gray
  • Orange
  • Black
  • Green
  • Royal Blue
  • Purple
  • Red
  • Cool Gray
  • Yellow
  • Pink


Still have questions? Please visit the UDPL STEAM Lab contact page to send an email to the STEAM Lab coordinator!

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