3D Printing3D printing is the process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file using a printer that extrudes plastic and other substances.
It is a rapidly evolving phenomenon that makes it possible to print 3D models of math concepts, reproductions of historical artifacts, and STEM projects. The printer itself is like a tiny hot glue gun. It squirts molten plastic in the pattern directed by the computer program.
3D Printing at the Earl Center
The Earl Center has two 3D Printers: the NVBots 3D Printer and an Afinia H480. They can print various colors of plastic and can handle objects (or parts of objects). We are happy to provide a demonstration or walk you through the entire process of creating objects. The NVBots 3D Printer is a larger format printer. It is also automated so that it can run over night and on weekends mitigating the major problem of 3D printers, that of taking a long time to print. You can send your print job from any location and monitor its progress. Accounts are available to the entire community enabling you to send your files to be printed-for free. Watch for workshops on getting started or make an appointment to discuss your project. Send your email to mare at firstname.lastname@example.org for an account.
How to Approach Your First "Print"
There are several ways to do it.
You can read the following web article, 25 Websites To Download Free STL Models For 3D Printers. Here you will find a list of sites that provide models that other people have done that you can download and print or modify.
Thingaverse.com is a good place to start . You can search to see if someone has uploaded something specific or you can browse to see what people are doing. Browsing sites like Thingiverse will give you ideas for your own unique designs.
You can also make things from scratch. This entails learning a program like Sketchup or TinkerCad. 3ders.org has a list of 3D design software. You start by making a virtual design of the object you want to create. This virtual design is made in a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file using a 3D modeling program such as Sketchup Make. The finished file is an .STL file. This file gets sent to the printer which then prints it.
You can download a free copy of Sketchup Make to use on your own computer.