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3D Printer

What is 3D printing?

A 3D printer works by depositing a substance layer by layer until an object is formed. The printer in the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) is a consumer-level machine, meaning that it creates small-scale objects using a plastic-based material. The process is much cheaper and less messy compared to that of large, industrial 3D printers.

Why offer a 3D printing service?

Libraries and Cultural Resources (LCR) is committed to providing the latest technology and tools that enhance research and hands-on, experiential learning. LCR is providing a valuable service to students and researchers by making 3D printing more accessible. Many experts believe this technology will revolutionize the world of manufacturing.

The consumer-level printer in the TFDL is ideal for experimenting with design and prototyping. It allows students and researchers to test their concepts in a real-world scenario. 

Where is the 3D printer located?

The printer is located at the first floor service desk in  the Taylor Family Digital Library.

How do 3D printers affect air quality?

Unlike larger, industrial printers that use resins, our consumer-level 3D printer does not emit fumes. The material used in the printer in the TFDL is a synthetic substance called polylactic acid (PLA). It is derived from plant material and is biodegradable.

How much detail can the printer create?

The 3D printer in the TFDL is capable of producing objects with a resolution of one-tenth of a millimetre, approximately the width of a strand of hair.

How much does it cost to print an object and how long does it take?

It costs $1.00 plus 25 cents per gram for a printed item, which could amount to a few dollars. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to a several hours. Cost and time depends upon the size and complexity of the object.

What kind of objects can I print?

You can print anything on a small scale, such as a prototype design, an action figure or a trinket for a necklace.

There are many open-source files available online that can be downloaded for printing, or you can create your own. 

Please keep in mind that you can’t print everything you find online. Copyright laws and intellectual property rules apply. Ensure that any files you acquire from the internet are open-source or that licensing requirements are met. There are many websites that have Printable 3D models available for free or for sale:

The Digital Media Commons also has a variety of 3D modeling tools available so that you can create whatever object that you can imagine:

  • Rhino 3D
  • Autodesk 3DS Max
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • SketchUp Pro
  • Blender

There are also basic modelling applications available online that can help you get started with CAD and nonCAD 3D modelling:

Can I see my object being printed?

You can watch the 3D printer in action anytime during regular business hours. Due to the large number of projects, it is extremely difficult to pinpoint exactly when your project will be printed.

How do I request a print job?

Once you submit your request, it will be added to the queue and staff will notify you when your item is ready for pick-up.

3D Printing Directions

The file must be in .STL, or stereolithographic file format to print it. MeshLab is a freeware program that can be used to view and convert your file to STL format.

Once a request is submitted you can keep in touch with the 3D Printing department through the confirmation email that will be sent to youThe maximum build size is 284 x 154 x 152 millimeters, or 11.2 x 6.1 x 6 inches.

When notified by email that your model is ready you will be sent an invoice listing the print cost. Take this receipt to the TFDL Service Desk to make your payment and collect your model.

How can I learn more about the 3D printing service?

Sign up for an orientation session by visiting the workshop calendar.