Instructional 3D Printer

Facility

We currently have a single Makerbot Replicator 2 with a maximum build volume of 11 x 6 x 6 in. (285 x 150 x 150 mm). The Replicator 2 uses PLA plastic, a variety of colors are stocked.

Usage

All parts must be approved prior to printing. If you bypass this step you will lose printing privileges.

  • Email proposed projects to Dan Bridges bridges@physics.ucsb.edu. Your email should include:
    • The proposed STL file. Do not send an X3G file.
    • Your layer height resolution requirements (100, 200, or 300 um). Remember higher resolution prints will take substantially longer to print. We have an effective maximum print time of about 8 hours.
    • Preferred infill percentage. For decorative parts 15% is suitable, for medium duty parts 50 - 60% is recommended. Anything above 75% is not generally necessary, it just increases print time. Substantial load bearing parts should not be printed with this printer.
    • If desired, a screenshot of the part showing your preferred printing orientation.
    • List of preferred part colors.
  • Project scheduling will be handled by Dan. Projects will be started in the morning and must be completed before 5pm. You are welcome to help start the project, to verify its success.
  • If you desire training or help with generating suitable STL files contact Dan, he will do his best to get you up and running.

Preparing a Part

Modeling

All major CAD programs will generate suitable STL files. Autodesk’s software is available free of charge for academic use. Autodesk Inventor or Auotdesk Fusion 360 (Mac compatible!) are recommended. Additionally other commercial software (NX, Solidworks, etc) and open source software (OpenSCAD, FreeCAD) can be used.

For parts which include mathematically defined surfaces Mathematica can export 3D geometry to STL, though this is not recommended for parts which are more easily created in a solid modeling program.

Testing

Before submitting a project for approval you must first test the proposed STL file in the MakerWare software. This software allows you to visualize the printer’s tool path and to see exactly what the printed part will look like.

1) Download and install MakerWare.

2) After opening MakerWare add your part to the scene by clicking the Add button. If prompted, move the part to the platform.

3) If needed, scale the part to the correct units. MakerWare’s native units are mm.

4) Rotate the part to the correct printing orientation using the Turn menu, then click Lay Flat.

5) In the Move menu click Center. Be sure to not accidentally move the part off the platform.

6) We are now ready to generate the tool path, click Make. This will bring up a dialog box full of print options.

7) Make sure that Raft is checked, this creates a layer of detachable plastic below your part. Also check Preview Before Printing. This allows us to see the generated toolpath. If your part requires material to be printed to support overhanging portions, check Support Material. MakerWare automatically generates this material.

8) Finally, press export to view the tool path preview.

9) If all looks good, you are ready to print!