The Makerspace @ Williams

Master How-To

Here is a step-by-step to guide you through your first print.

1. Obtain a 3D model.

The model should be in the .stl file format. Models can be downloaded for free on Thingiverse and various other websites.

If you have experience with 3D modeling, you can also create your own model. The Makerspace computer has a plethora of 3D modeling software for you to use.

If you are new to 3D modeling, check out our beginner’s guide to modeling in Rhino. Lynda tutorials are also a good place to start for picking up modeling software.

2. Pick your printer.

The Makerspace currently has three 3D printers: The MakerGear M2, LulzBot TAZ 5, and Form 1+.

When choosing a printer to use, consider the following:

  1. Time. The M2 and TAZ5 print much more quickly than the Form 1+.
  2. Polish. Form 1+ prints are much smoother and more topologically accurate than M2 and TAZ5 prints.
  3. Material. Because the M2 and TAZ5 use filament that can be switched out, there are a lot of options for what material to print with. The Makerspace has two types of plastic filament, ABS and PLA, in various colors, as well as a more flexible TPU filament called Ninjaflex. Form 1+ prints are made out of hardened liquid resin which we only have in grey or black.
  4. Involvement. The Form 1+ is very reliable, and it can usually be left unsupervised once a print starts. For a more hands-on printing process, you may want to use the M2 or TAZ5. While they are finicky and prints often fail at first, troubleshooting issues will help you gain an understanding of how the machines work.

3. Slice your print.

Slicing is the process of readying your 3D model for printing by turning it into printing instructions that the printer can follow.

To print on the M2 or TAZ5, refer to our Simplify 3D slicing guide.

To print on the Form 1+, refer to our Form 1+ printing instructions.

4. Retrieve your print.

Once you have successfully started a print, you’re free to leave and come back when the print has finished. It is a good idea to check in on prints while they are running in case something goes wrong.