Pendergrass Library provides access to 3D printing for all UT affiliates.
What is 3D printing?
3D printing is a method of creating physical three-dimensional objects through an additive rather than reductive process. As opposed to utilizing a solid block of material and removing all the unnecessary material until the desired object is created (as is used in machining and milling processes), 3D printing creates objects by bonding the print material one cross section at a time.
How does it do it?
3D printers work by making use of 3D design files, such as those created in AutoCAD or similar applications. These files are processed by specialized software that slices the data into cross sections. The printer uses this data to build the desired object from the bottom up one layer at a time. Pendergrass’ printer uses the fused deposition modeling (FDM) process, which utilizes thermoplastics in filament form. This filament is fed to a nozzle that heats the plastic to its melting point and then extrudes the material onto the build surface according to instructions from the CAD data.
All workstations in Pendergrass Library’s computer lab have AutoCAD, but there are alternative 3D modeling applications available at no cost. These alternatives can be found at:
For more information about 3D printing and modeling applications, please see our 3D Print Links site.
How can I print something?
UT affiliates may create or download a model and submit the request in STL format to Richard Sexton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What types of material are available?
The uPrint SE Plus is a professional grade 3D printer that utilizes ABS plastic to produce durable, functional, precisely detailed models and parts.
The Cubex Trio is a consumer \ hobbyist grade machine that utilizes PLA plastic.
This printer performs well on models that require no support structure during the build process. Requests for models utilizing the Cubex Trio will be reviewed for viability. Pendergrass staff will determine if the request is suitable for this printer and communicate that information to you. If it is determined that your model is not suitable for the Cubex Trio, AVM staff will recommend the uPrint SE plus. A cost estimate will be produced for your approval. Once approval is given, your project will proceed in the order received.
What colors are available?
The uPrint SE Plus utilizes ABS plastic and is available in ivory only at this time.
Cubex Trio utilizes PLA plastic with the following colors available:
What does it cost?
Models created on the uPrint SE Plus are calculated by the cubic inch of material used (both support and model material) as well as consumables. The average cost is about $4.75 per cubic inch.
The Cubex Trio is $0.15 per gram of material used.
For perspective, a simple phone case produced on the uPrint SE Plus is about $7.00 while the same case produced on the Cubex Trio is about $1.50.
Please note, we reserve the right to review all submissions for viability and appropriateness.
What if I don't have design skills?
No problem. A repository of items that can be printed is available at Thingiverse.com.
Why 3D printing? Why is it used? What is the purpose?
3D printing enables designers to rapidly turn their ideas into models that can then be observed for form, fit, and function.
It is often more productive to hand someone a model of a project to get your idea across rather than a drawing or explanation.
If you are developing a new product, you can use a 3D printer to take advantage of the process called rapid prototyping. Rapid prototyping allows designers to create as many different iterations of an object as necessary to get the dimensions and form correct before going to full production. Full production of an object usually involves the costly process of creating dies and tools or utilizing manufacturing processes such as milling, forging, and/or casting. With 3D printing, these costs are greatly reduced because the 3D print material is cheaper by comparison and allows the designer to perfect the object before going to the production phase. If changes are made to a design after dies, tools, or other manufacturing implements are fabricated, they must be abandoned and new ones created adding to the time and expense of product development.
3D printers can also be used to fabricate replacement parts for household items that break. All one needs is a CAD file of the part, or for those with design skills, you can make your own CAD drawing. An alternative to using CAD is to utilize a 3D scanner to scan an object and then print it from the resulting file.
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