The Makerspace @ Williams


Below are some explanations to how 3D printing works in general. For a step-by-step guide to actually printing something out, see our Master How-To.

If the answer to your question isn’t online, stop by during Makerspace open hours or contact one of the Makerspace consultants. We’re more than happy to get you started, help with an existing project, or just show you around!

What is a 3D printer?

3D printers are used to print 3-dimensional objects from 3D models. In the Makerspace, we have several printers: the LulzBot TAZ 5, MakerGear M2, and the From 1+.

How do the printers work?

The LulzBot TAZ 5 and MakerGear M2 are both fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers. They print objects from the bottom-up by heating and extruding thermoplastic filament. The filament becomes soft and moldable when it melts and cools as it hardens. The result of extruding many layers of filament on top of one other is a solid object.

The Form 1+ is a stereolithographic (SLA) printer. It prints objects by using a UV laser to trace patterns on the surface of a liquid resin tank. The resin is photosensitive and exposure to the UV light causes it to solidify and join to the layer below it.

What are the types of plastic filament used for FDM printing?

ABS and PLA are currently the two dominant plastics.

ABS is a petroleum-based plastic with a higher melting point than PLA, which makes it better for printing machine parts. It is generally the preferred plastic for engineers and professional applications.

PLA is a plant-based plastic that comes in a wide variety of colors and translucencies. It is more flexible than ABS and is generally preferred for hobbyists.

How do I use a printer?

See our simple step-by-step guide or pop in during open hours for assistance from a Makerspace consultant.

Where can I obtain 3D models to print?

Thingiverse is a repository of thousands of 3D models available for instant download. If you can’t find what you were looking for there, check out our Resources page for more websites from which you can either download or purchase 3D models.

What if my 3D model isn’t in .stl format?

If you have a 3D model you would like to print but it is not in the STL file format, reach out to one of the Makerspace consultants and we’ll see if we can convert and print it for you.

How do I sign up to print?

Email one of the Makerspace consultants or drop by during our open hours.