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Library Technologies

3D Printers and Properties


C-Space offers access to a Makerbot Digitizer Desktop Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation 3D printer.  This equipment may be used by all currently enrolled WSU students or employees of Wichita State.  The scanner may be used to scan and create a digital file of three-dimensional objects.  The printer uses PLA plastic filament to print three-dimensional objects  using a design that is uploaded from a digital computer file.

General Policies

  1. The 3D printer must be used only for lawful purposes. Users will not be permitted to use University Libraries' 3D printer or scanner to create material that is:

    1. Prohibited by local, state or federal law.

    2. Unsafe, harmful, dangerous or poses an immediate threat to the well-being of others.

    3. A utensil that is to be used for storing or consuming any food item. (The material provided in the library is not certified to be of food grade.)

    4. Obscene or otherwise inappropriate in the UL environment.
    5. In violation of another’s intellectual property rights. The printers will not be used to reproduce material that is subject to copyright, patent or trademark protection, unless authorized by the creator.
  2. WSU University Libraries reserves the right to refuse any 3D print request.

  3. Cost: 3D printing jobs cost $0.20 per gram of filament used. This is payable by cash or credit card at the Circulation Desk. Any design failures will be held accountable to the designer of the model.

  4. The use of 3D printed parts as a replacement for any machine part is not recommended (as it can lead to failure of the equipment ). Also, such parts are not designed to be exposed to direct and continuous sunlight, high temperatures or continuous stress.

  5. Items must be picked up by the individual who printed them within 7 days. If you anticipate that you will be unable to pick up your print within the week, please specify a time frame when you submit your request via our request form and we will be happy to work with you. Please note: If no arrangements have been made and the week has passed, the printed object becomes the property of the University Libraries, but the patron will still be responsible for paying the fee associated with the printing.

  6. Only designated Library staff and volunteers will have hands-on access to the 3D printer and scanner.

  7. Printing and scanning policies are subject to change. Please refer to this guide for updated information.

The procedure for printing from the University Libraries' 3D printers is as follows:

  1. Design creation:

    1. Maximum Build Volume available for the 3D printer: 25.2 cm L x 19.9 cm W x 15.0 cm H [9.9 x 7.8 x 5.9 in]

    2. The 3D printer can be used with basic knowledge of Computer Assisted Drawing (CAD). Creating a new design requires an advanced knowledge of 3D modeling software products. Video tutorials that accompany CAD programs can be of assistance.

    3. Any 3D drafting software may be used to create a design as long as the file can be saved in .stl file format (only .stl files can be edited again)

    4. The Library has computers with AutoCAD, Autodesk 123D, Autodesk 123D Make and Photoshop software that may be used to create a design.

    5. Digital designs also are available from various file-sharing databases such as

    6. Other services include online tools like TinkerCad can also be used for editing .stl files.

  2. Submitting a design for printing:

    1. Persons wanting to use the 3D printer shall bring their file in .stl (preferred), .obj, or .thing file format, of size no larger than 25 MB to the C-Space during open hours. Staff will add the model to the printing queue.

    2. If there is high demand, the Library will schedule only one print per day per person or entity.

    3. The files will be readied for printing in MakerWare or other authorized software. University Libraries will view all files in MakerWare or other authorized software before printing.

    4. Wait/pickup time: After submitting a 3D print request, the patron will be notified via email when the project is underway, and again once it is completed and ready for pickup. The printed object will be held at Circulation for payment and pickup for 7 days.

  3. Please note that procedures governing the use of the Library’s 3D printers are subject to change.

The below Gallery displays some of the objects printed with either Makerbot or Jellybox 3D Printers in Cspace at Ablah Library

Glossary of terms for 3D printing

Build Plate - The surface on which the 3D printed model is formed.

Build Platform - The part that supports the build plate.

Build Envelope - The measured limitations of a 3D printer's space, which determines the maximum physical size of a 3D model that can be produced.

Extruder - The part of the 3D printer that melts and deposits the melted plastic.

Filament - The plastic material that is melted and extruded to create the 3D printed object in the Fused Filament Fabrication method.

Infill - The interior structure of a 3D printed model. Rather than printing a solid interior, which is a waste of plastic, a model is typically printed with a patterned internal "mesh". In the 3D print settings this is usually represented by a percentage (ex. 10% infill).

Layer Height - The thickness of a particular layer in a 3D printed model. (ex. 0.20 mm)

Makerware - The free software designed for the Makerbot 3D printers that prepares your 3D digital model for printing and sends the file to the printer.

Mesh - The surface area of a 3D model in digital form. In curved shapes this is typically represented by a series of flat triangles. The smaller the triangles the finer the printed results will be.

Nozzle - The part of the extruder that deposits the melted plastic material.

OBJ - Short for Object file. A file format from 3D modeling programs commonly used in 3D printing.

Overhang - A part of a 3D model where there is no support below it. Parts that jut out at an angle of over 45 degrees are generally considered overhangs.

PLA - Polylactic Acid. Corn-based plastic filament used in the Fused Filament Fabrication 3D printing process. Biodegradable and doesn't give off fumes like ABS plastic does. Used in applications such as medical implants, compostable packing material and disposable garments.

Raft - to prevent warping during printing and to ensure successful prints of models with minimal area on their base surfaces, a flat layer of support material will print below the model on the build plate. Raft supports are constructed to be removable, either by dipping in a chemical bath or pulling apart.

Resolution - The minimum feature size that can be expected to be reproduced. On the Makerbot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer, the highest resolution available is 100 microns (0.0039 in).

Shell - The outer layer of a 3D printed model. In 3D printing programs this is represented by the number of layers of plastic used to create the outer layer (ex. 2 shells).

Slice - A single layer of the 3D printed model. Slices vary in thickness depending on the design (ex. 0.1 mm). Most 3D printer programs automatically generate, or "slice" your 3D digital model into the layers to prepare for printing.

STL - short for Stereolithographic. A file format from 3D modeling programs commonly used in 3D printing.

Supports - models that have large overhangs or gaps between parts require support material to be printed; with the Makerbot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer, the material used for supports is the same as the material used to print the model itself. Support material is constructed to be removable.

X, Y, Z axes - 3-dimensional coordinate system. Z axis represents what would typically be considered "vertical".

What does it cost to have a 3D object printed?
The current cost is only $0.20 per gram.

How long does it take to print a 3D object?
It depends on the size and quality of the printed object, but expect even a small print job to take 3 or more hours, once the printing has started.

How do I submit a 3D printing request?
There are 3D Printing Request Forms available at the C-Space Help Desk. You may fill out the form and bring it and your .stl file to the C-Space Help Desk to submit a print request. You can also bring a physical object you want scanned and printed.

How long does it take to scan an object to prepare it for printing?
The average scan time is 7-10 minutes. The scan time may be longer depending on the complexity of the object.

How will I know when my printed object is ready for pick-up?
You will be notified via WSU email when your object is ready. It will be available at the Circulation Desk. You may also check on the status of your print at any time by calling Circulation at (316) 978-3582.

How long will you hold my printed object for me?
According to our policies, we will hold printed objects for one week after the patron is notified via email that it is ready. If you anticipate being unable to pick it up in that time frame, please contact us or put a note in the request form at the time of submission. Circulation can be reached at (316) 978-3582.

What are the storage requirements for my printed objects? 
Your printed object is made of PLA plastic, and must be kept out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dry place.

Can I make utensils with MakerBot’s proprietary PLA filament?
The MakerBot PLA supply is not food-grade, nor can it resist temperatures over 110 degrees F, so it is not recommended to eat with printed objects.

I am allergic to corn; could I still use PLA products? 
Yes, the heat used in the process of deriving the starch from corn destroys the immunologically reactive profiilin. Profilin is the chemical that usually causes an allergic reaction and is not found in PLA products.

3D Print Gallery

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