3D Printer

MakerBot Replicator 3D printer3D Printer

The Campbell Commons MakerSpace features a MakerBot Replicator (5th Gen) 3D printer for students use!

How to Use Our 3D Printer

1) Get yourself a 3D model:

  • Download a Model: You can find thousands of models online to download. Thingiverse.com models are easy to use with our printer, but you can also just use a search engine. Here is a great list of special purpose 3D model sites.
  • Create a Model: You can also create a model from scratch using 3D modeling software. TinkerCAD is an online 3D modeling tool from AutoDesk (the makers of AutoCAD). We also have SketchUp Pro installed on six computers in the Commons. Here is a great list of other software tools for 3D models and 3D printing.
  • Remix a Model: Download models, then use the 3D modeling tools above to combine, edit, and modify them to suit your purposes.

Your 3D model will need to be in .STL or .OBJ format.

2) Create a 3D print job:

Before printing, your 3D model will need to be converted to a format the printer can understand. This process, called “slicing,” creates a set of instructions for the printer to follow: You specify how big the model should be printed, how it should be oriented on the build plate, and how the printer should handle solid areas (infill) and overhangs (supports). The software will “slice” the job into layers that the printer will build. The slicing software we use is MakerBot Desktop. It is installed on the computer connected to the printer. However, you can use a your own computer or a different slicing software if you prefer, as long as the software is Makerbot-compatible.

Start by downloading or saving your 3D model in a standard file format that is compatible with MakerBot Desktop (.STL, .OBJ, or .THING). Next, open MakerBot Desktop and use it to open your file. Now you can use the software to specify the parameters of how the printer will create your model (scale, rotation, infill, supports, etc.) Finally, you export the print file (in .MAKERBOT format):

  • If you are using Makerbot Desktop on the computer attached to the 3D printer (and the printer is ready) you can proceed directly to Step 3, below.
  • If you are using a different computer or a different type of slicing software, you will need to save the .makerbot file to a USB flash drive.  (Make sure the flash drive doesn’t have a lot of other files on it, and make sure it’s one you don’t mind leaving unattended for a few hours. If you don’t have one to spare, we have one you can borrow.)

3) Start printing:

Make sure the build plate is empty and the blue build plate tape is in good shape. Insert your flash drive with the .MAKERBOT file into the printer. Navigate to the print menu and choose USB storage. Find your file, and start printing. The printer will give you an estimated time, with times usually ranging from 20 minutes to 6 hours.

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