MakerLab 3D Printing
The Cline Library MakerLab offers 3D printing services to all NAU and CCC students, staff, and faculty as well as Flagstaff area community members. With this service you can print components for class projects, personal model designs, or fun toys and gifts in an array of colors!
About 3D Printing
3D Printing Accordion Open
The MakerLab’s 18 MakerBot Replicator+ and 2 MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D printers provide detailed model printing in a hardened thermoplastic material called PLA (polylactic acid). For more information about the 3D printing process, visit our 3D printing guide.
3D printing model files can be downloaded from online repositories, designed from scratch using 3D design software, or scanned from a physical object using a 3D scanner.
3D Design Accordion Closed
The MakerLab offers two computers that can be used for 3D modeling, scanning, and editing using a number of software programs or by modifying a pre-existing design. Create your own 3D objects, find inspiration, or get some help on your project.
- Tinkercad – A free and easy-to-use web-based tool for creating objects that are ready to be 3D printed. If you haven’t done 3D design before, this is a great place to start.
- SketchUp – A 3D modeling program for applications such as architectural design, interior design, civil and mechanical engineering, film, and video game design. SketchUp models can be exported to an .OBJ file, which can then be converted to a .stl file.
- Blender – A free professional 3D computer graphics software product used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D printed models, interactive 3D applications, and video games. While Blender is primarily used for 3D computer graphics it can also be used to create 3D meshes for 3D printing.
- SolidWorks – Available on the MakerLab computers. SolidWorks is a solid modeler which utilizes a parametric feature-based approach to create models and assemblies for a variety of engineering fields. This is a professional level software that requires advanced skill to operate.
- AutoCad – Available on the MakerLab computers. AutoCAD (by AutoDesk) is a 2D and 3D drafting program used for engineering and manufacturing applications such as structural blueprints, architectural models, and mechanical assemblies. This is a professional level software that requires advanced skill to operate.
- Cinema4D – Available on the MakerLab computers. Cinema 4D is a 3D modeling, animation, and motion graphics program used primarily in the film and entertainment industries. While the main intent of Cinema 4D is to create CG models for film it can also be used to create meshes for 3D printing. This is a professional level software that requires advanced skill to operate.
3D Scanning Accordion Closed
Use one of our 3D scanners to scan an object and create a digital file you can 3D print.
- Skanect 3D scanner – Scan people, objects, spaces, or anything else you can imagine. You can scan by moving around the object, making sure to capture it from as many angles as possible for the most accurate scan. The Skanect 3D Scanner is available for checkout by NAU and CCC students, faculty, and staff, as well as community members. The Skanect 3D Scanner can be booked in advance. Call, email, or come to the MakerLab Desk to reserve a kit for a future date.
- EinScan Pro+ – In-library use only. The EinScan Pro+ is a professional high-performance handheld 3D scanner that is ideal for scanning larger items like people, statues, or furniture. This scanner uses the EinScan software to capture the shape of an object up to 0.05 mm resolution.
- NextEngine 3D Scanner – In-library use only. The NextEngine 3D scanner is a professional desktop scanner with rotating stand that is ideal for smaller detailed items like models, antiques, or artifacts. This scanner uses the ScanStudio software to capture the color and texture of an object up to 0.012 mm resolution.
Submission Process Accordion Closed
Visit the MakerLab 3D Print Request form to submit your 3D model for printing. All submissions should conform to our 3D Printing Specifications.
The 3D Print Request form will ask you to:
- Enter your contact information.
- Upload your 3D model file (formats include .stl, .obj, and .ply).
- Set the dimensions of your model.
- Choose a filament color for printing (30 options).
- Specify any additional details like infill or resolution.
Once the MakerLab receives your request we will:
- Examine your model for errors.
- Slice your model using the MakerBot Print software.
- Add supports to the model if necessary.
- Determine the model cost and send you a confirmation email (you will be able to pay online).
- Print your model in PLA using our MakerBot printers.
- Contact you via email when your model is ready to be picked up (from the Cline Library MakerLab).
3D Printing Specifications
Material Accordion Closed
All MakerLab 3D printers print in a thermoplastic called PLA (Polylactic Acid). This material is derived from corn and as such is non-toxic and biodegradable.
The MakerLab also offers printing in specialty PLA that is infused with other materials such as wood, bronze, copper, and steel. Please note that while this specialty filament has some of the characteristics of the infused materials, the final model will remain primarily plastic.
Model Dimensions Accordion Closed
The maximum model size that the MakerLab can accommodate is 12″ x 12″ x 18″ however, prints with dimensions smaller than 11″ x 7″ x 6″ will be completed with a quicker turnaround time.
Resolution Accordion Closed
In 3D printing, resolution is measured by the thickness of the layers being printed. Thinner layers will result in cleaner and more precise final models. When 3D printing using the MakerLab our default resolution is 0.2 mm with a maximum resolution of 0.1 mm. Please keep in mind that a resolution of 0.1 mm will increase the printing cost and time and is unnecessary for most models.
Density (Infill) Accordion Closed
In 3D printing, the density of models is determined by the infill percentage. When 3D printing using the MakerLab our default infill percentage is 10%, however this can be increased up to 95%. Please keep in mind that an infill greater than 10% will increase the printing cost and time; an infill greater than 50% is unnecessary for most models.
Print Time Accordion Closed
The time required to print a 3D model varies widely and depends on the size and complexity of the design, as well as your requested print settings such as resolution and infill. After submitting your design for 3D printing MakerLab staff will provide you with an estimated print time for your model.
Most smaller prints (less than 3″ cubed) can be printed in under two hours while large prints (greater than 8″ cubed) may take up to several days to complete.
Print Cost Accordion Closed
The MakerLab charges all users a flat rate of $0.12/gram of material consumed ($0.25/gram for specialty filament). Additional charges may be added for oversized prints ($2-$7), community submissions ($3), or shipping fees ($3). After submitting your design for 3D printing MakerLab staff will provide you with the estimated print cost for your model.
Most smaller prints (less than 3″ cubed) can be printed for less than $5.00 while large prints (greater than 8″ cubed) may cost upwards of $50.00.
File Format Accordion Closed
Export your 3D model from your design program as a stereolithography file, with an STL extension (.stl). This file can then be submitted to the MakerLab for processing. The MakerLab also accepts .obj and .ply files.
Common Errors Accordion Closed
Other things to be careful of when creating your model:
- Degenerate faces: Mesh faces that have 0 area.
- Zero length edges: Edges with no length, created by degenerate faces.
- Non manifold edges: Faces that have more than one face connected to a single edge.
- Naked edges: A surface or polysurface edge that is not connected to another edge.
- Duplicate faces: Identical faces in a single mesh.
- Faces should be flipped: The faces in a mesh object should point in a consistent direction.
- Disjoint pieces: Mesh objects that do not connect but are considered a single mesh.
Don’t know how to fix your model? Ask Us!