Getting Started with 3d Printing

Once you complete the orientation, what’s next?

Initially, students are going to be more or less on their own to create their .stl files to submit for printing.  Once we get through a few rounds of orientations, we may schedule some instructor-led simple projects to build familiarity with steps required to create a basic 3d model.

If you don’t know where to get started with creating your project, start by going to TinkerCAD and doing their tutorials.  This will give you a good idea of the basic steps required to create a 3d model for printing.  Many projects can be completed entirely in TinkerCAD.  If you don’t know where else to start, it could be all you need.

There are dozens of other 3d modeling software sites and applications available to achieve the goal of going from your idea to a .stl file for printing.  The website All3DP has a good list of choices.

Students may also review existing 3d models for modification from Thingiverse, My Mini Factory, and a variety of other sites on the internet.  Students can download and modify these models.

A form will be available here soon for students to submit projects for printing.  Students will need to specify the academic or service project the project supports, what 3d modeling techniques and skills they used or learned, and preferred color (no promises).  As a general rule, academic projects should always involve some modifications or original work by the student and not be a straight reprint of a downloaded model.  Very large size models may require additional justification.

Once a print is complete, students may choose to engage in a variety of post-processing of their printed model.  Spray painting with sandable filling primer, sanding, and coating with epoxy are all methods for smoothing out the rough finish from the 3d printer.  Models may also be painted.  These post-processing steps are left as an exercise for the student to perform at home.

Thanks to our grant from the Safeway/Albertsons Innovation in Education Program, we have a good supply of PLA filament to build student projects, so there is no fee to use this program until the supply runs out.