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3-D Express Printing Experience

Trial proof of concept

3-D EXPRESS: Hands on Learning

During the Library's 3D Printing drop-in hours, you can learn to print your first 3D object. The goal of 3D Express is to give you an easy guided introduction to 3D printing. The emphasis is on "hands-on" learning for the complete beginner. 

You be using an Ultima 2+ 3D printer and its associated CURA file "slicing" software. Take 3 minutes to view this short video about the Ultima 2+ printer. You can learn more about CURA by watching this Youtube video "Beginning Cura" now or after your printing session. Begin at 1 minute into the video. 

If you're experienced with 3D printing, you still want to complete a 3D Express project, so that staff will see that you have learned how to use our Ultimaker 2+ printers, thus paving the way for you, as an  experienced user, to gain more access to the 3D printer.

Your 3D Express experience will take about 45 to 60 minutes. At the end of your session, you'll know the basic operations of our 3D printers. Your first step is to  read  the "3D Express Instructions" that you'll find in the box on the lower left.

As you work through the instructions to print your first project, under the guidance of library staff, you will:

  • Choose one of the 3D files below to print (later you can explore repositories such as Thingiverse.)
  • Slice & prepare the file using the CURA program. Save the file to the library supplied SD card.
  • Turn on, load the SD card into the Ultima 3D printer, and "print" your job, and watch your project grow!
  • Learn about the "3D Print Request" form and where to pick up your 3D print job.

Fill out this 3D Printing Request Form (required).  Submissions of forms are by print or email. 

Step 1. Select one of these .STL files and download to your SD card, open in CURA to convert to GCODE

With the recent upgrades to Cura to accomodate Ultimaker printers with multiple extruder heads, the default setting for a model, may be set at "fine = .1 mm. If that is the case, change the setting to "normal .15m".

Step 2. Confirm that your file is saved as GCODE file on the SD card (view the SD card)

After opening your .STL file in Cura and slicing it, it should be in this file format: GCODE. GCODE is a file format used by our Ultimaker 2+ 3D printers.  The printers models in our makerspace are Ultimate 2+.  When working on any of these 3D Express files you do not need to specify a printer to output to. 

If you have problems using Cura to "prepare and slice" your .STL file into a GCODE file, you may copy this file of the Cat bookmark  to your SD card for insertion into the 3D printer so that you see how a properly prepared file appears in Ultimaker.

When your file is on your SD card, let the Library staff know you are ready to "print". 

Step 3. Learn the procedural steps and buttons to push to print your job!

You'll get more out of your initial 3D Express experience if you can spend the time to watch your job print out. For some of the files you can choose print with a "brim" or "raft" around your object in your .GCode file. This is designed to help your object stick to the print bed surface. As your object prints, see how the printer makes parts of the interior of your object "hollow". Sometimes, the filament will not stick properly to the print bed. In such a case you will see a messy stringy or blob-like build up of filament in place of a precisely growing object. If this happens, you will need to abort the print job. Notify the library staff.

Keep in Mind...

No one is allowed to use any of the 3D printers without first notifying library staff. Outside of "drop-in hours" you may prepare in advance for your drop in session of asking for an SD card, loading your GCODE file on the SD card, completing a "3D  Print Request Form" and turning it in to library staff. When away from campus, you can remotely submit your .STL, or GCODE file by email. [????] Note, the submission of an .STL file may result in some delays.

If you want to maintain maximum control for the final appearance of your job, it is best to submit a .GCode file.  For example, an .STL  file of a "coin" may appear in the Cura slicing software standing up on its end vertically. In such a case the resolution of the finished coin face will be poor. To improve the resolution of the coin's fae, it should be laid flat with the coin face directed upwards. That would maximize the precision printing of the face of the coin. Re-orientating the position of the "coin" object is done in CURA and not in the .STL modeling software. Library  staff will complete the 3D printing of remote job submissions and notify you by email when your job has been completed and is ready for pick up.