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3D Printing: FAQs

A guide to 3D printing at Joyner Library.

Community Forums

The 3D printing community is a dedicated group of individuals who freely share tips, tricks, and ideas. Searching the forums can help shorten the learning curve.

If you find another forum, let us know! We'll add it to the list.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of printer does the library use?

Joyner Library has a Lulzbot TAZ 5, an Ultimaker 3 and a Fusion3 F-400-s. All three printers build models using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) with PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon and other filaments. If you are interested in printing with specialty filaments (e.g., flexible filaments or wood, brick, or metal composites, etc.) please email us.

How do I create a model?

You can begin creating your model in using a 3D modeling program. The Find/Design Digital Models tab lists options for beginners through advanced users. Whichever program you use, be sure you are able to export your file as an STL file.

As you create your model, please refer to your software program’s help files, tutorial videos, and community forums. The 3D printing community is vibrant, and more than willing to share their knowledge. Remember, your model cannot have any 2D planes, lines or other elements. (See STL Geometry Check below.)

Dimensions/Units of Measurement

Your 3D model must fit within the build envelope of the printer you choose. The Ultimaker's build plate can handle objects as big as 215mm x 215mm x 300mm (8.5" x 8.5" x 11.8") while the TAZ 5 can print objects up to 290mm x 275mm x 250mm (11.4" x 10.8" x 9.8"). The Fusion3 F400-S build plate can print objects up to 360mm x 365mm x 320mm (14.17" x 14.37" x 12.6")

If at all possible, construct your model using millimeters as your unit of measurement. The majority of 3D design software programs use millimeters by default, and it is the unit of measurement Joyner Library uses when working with print requests.

File Format

To print a model with any of our printers, the model must be saved and/or exported as an .STL file. Most 3D modeling software and CAD programs can save or export in this format. If you are given two .stl files (Binary or ASCII) to choose from when you save or export your file, Binary .STL is preferred because it will reduce the file size.

In an effort to eliminate confusion when you submit a print request, please name your files in this format: PirateID.stl (EX: smithjoh13.stl).

STL Geometry Check

The “mesh”, or outer shell, of the 3D model must be free of mesh errors. Specifically, all faces of the object must be connected to each other without any gaps. When these faces aren’t connected, the gaps or holes in the mesh can adversely affect the quality of the print. Therefore, you should perform a geometry check of the .STL file before submitting your design to print. See the Check for Errors tab for more information.

Submit Your Model

You're ready to print! You have two choices:

  • Do-It-Yourself (DIY) printing: Stop by the 3D Print Studio any time we are open to print your model. Trained staff will be available to help you use the software and operate the machines. See the Home tab for our current DIY printing hours.
  • Full-Service Printing: Once you have completed your model, you can submit it by filling out the 3D Print Request Form and uploading the file. Uploaded files must be under 15MB. If the model is too big to attach to an email, you will need to re-export the .STL file using the Binary .STL file option. You can always email us for further instructions‚Äč.

Confirmation Email

Shortly after you submit your file via the 3D Print Request Form, you will receive an email from us with information about your model. We may inform you that you will need to fix certain problems with your model. The email you receive should contain information about the problems found. Please refer to any advice or links emailed to you to help resolve the issues.

Printing Estimate & Cost

Once your model is repaired and accepted to be printed, you will be emailed a printing estimate which includes the projected cost and how long it might take to print. Once you reply to that estimate, your part will be added to the print queue for first come, first serve printing.

The cost for DIY 3D printing is determined by the amount of time it takes to print your model. We charge $2 for up to one hour of printing plus $1 for each additional hour for generic filaments (ABS, PETG, PLA), and $3 for up to one hour plus $1 for each additional hour for specialty filaments (Carbon Fiber, Nylon, TPU, Glow in the Dark). Full-service printing is based on the amount of filament or base material used and any rafts and supporting material. We charge 30 cents per gram of filament used. There is a $5 minimum charge. Patrons will pick up their payment slip at the TRC desk and pay for their print at the Circulation Desk on the first floor of Joyner Library. 

How long it will take to print is dependent on how many prints are in the print queue and the size and complexity of your model. It could take anywhere from a day or two to a few weeks. In some situations, we may be able to combine print jobs with other users to save on the overall print time. Once the object is printed, you will receive an email with information about pickup. 3D printed items will be held at the TRC’s service desk for 30 days after you are notified it is ready.

3D Printing Help

Chat:

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Text Message:  Send a text to (252) 391-8428.

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Phone:  Call the TRC Service Desk at (252) 328-6076.

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Email:  Email us at 3dprinting@ecu.edu

  We will answer you within 24 hours when classes are in session.

 

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Schedule a 3D Printing Consultation:

We are only available to consult in person at this time:

Visit the Consultation Request tab for more information.