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3D Printing @ Pendergrass : 3D Printing

Summer 2015: 3D Printing in Brehm 243

3D printing is available during summer 2015 at Pendergrass temporary location in Brehm Animal Science Computer Lab, Room 243.  Library hours are Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm.  See our FAQs page about the summer relocation.  Email Richard Sexton with 3D printing questions.

3D Printing

3D Printing @ Pendergrass Library

Pendergrass Library is proud to offer 3D printing services to UT affiliates and has received a consumer grade 3D printer to assess these devices.

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.

For information about our 3D printer (CubeX Trio), visit

How can I print something?
UT affiliates may create or download a model and submit the request in STL format to Richard Sexton (

What types of material are available?
Pendergrass' 3D printer uses two types of material to create models.  PLA (Polylactic acid) or (polylactide) is a dissolvable material that is typically used for support structures, but can also be used as the primary material.  ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene ) is the same material as a Lego and is used as a primary model material.  On most models, the support structure is removed by immersion in our support removal tank.  This process involves immersion in 170F water for 48 hours.  Once this is complete, the support structure becomes brittle and is removable via manual methods using nippers, picks, probes, etc.  The support removal tank allows for the use of caustic soda and ultrasonic action to dissolve supports in only four hours, but we don't have the facility to accommodate the use of chemicals in the support removal process.

What colors are available?


Industrial Grey


What does it cost?
At this time, prints are free and only available to UT affiliates.  Once the service is fully established, there will be a fee based on recovering the cost of materials. 

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

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 easier 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.

For more information, contact:

Richard Sexton
Library Technology Support
(865) 974.4731 |


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