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3D Printing Information

What is 3D printing?

3D printing refers to rapid prototyping - creating a physical 3-dimensional object from a digital model. There are several types of 3D printers. The Rebecca Crown Library has a  Ultimaker 2+ 3D Printer which performs a Fused Filament Fabrication - FFF technique (also known as Fused Deposition Modeling - FDM) to create the final 3D printed object. In this method, a lightweight plastic filament is fed through the nozzle, heated up to its melting point and then extruded onto a build plate surface, hardening upon impact. This process continues depositing the melted filament layer by layer until a 3-dimensional object is formed. 

What are practical uses for 3D Printing?

Here are some examples of practice and use in an educational environment:

  • Architecture - printing their 3D models to further enhance their understanding of structures
  • Fine Arts - creating 3D objects from their digital designs; incorporating 3D prints into their other media; designing and 3D printing jewelry, fabric, sculptures, etc.
  • Visual Communication Design - creating prototypes of product designs and packaging
  • 3D Animation - creating 3D printed objects from their designs either to create a stop motion film or a 3D character reference
  • Engineering - creating 3D prototypes of their designs in order to fully understand their engineering design principles and to experience the challenges that are encountered along the way
  • Advertising / Marketing / Business / Entrepreneurs - having a 3D prototype of the item that they are selling and to show their clients
  • Nursing / Medicine - creating 3D replicas of anatomy or creating personalized prosthetics
  • Archeology / Paleontology - creating 3D replicas of fragile relics for study (ex. creating replicas of fossils in order to study their movement, etc.)
  • Forensics - incorporating 3D printing into crime scene investigation (ex. creating 3D replicas of evidence, such as footprints, or skeletal remains and facial reconstruction)
  • Chemistry / Physics / Biology - creating accurate 3D visual aids such as DNA or chemical reactions
  • Any discipline can see the benefit of using the 3D printer to add to the learning experience

Who can use the printer?

The printer is available for use by current Dominican University students, staff and faculty in any discipline.

When is the printer available for use?

The printer is available for use during regularly scheduled Media Center hours when a trained staff member is present.

How much does it cost?

The 3D printing is currently free for students. Depending on use, faculty and staff may have to pay for material use.

How large of an object can I print?

Objects must not exceed 8.8 inches across, 8.8 inches deep x 12 inches tall. Printing time for an object should not exceed 6 hours. Please be aware that we may ask to print your model at a scale smaller than your original design. We do this with the goal of ensuring the best success of your print. With some ingenuity, though, you can print larger objects simply by separating your model into smaller and easier to print pieces. So keep that in mind as you prepare your file for printing.

How many objects can I print?

There is no limit to the number of objects a student can print during their time at Dominican since the service is free. We do however limit the number of files a student can send at one time to 7. If you need more than 7 different files printed at one time, email us or stop by the Media Center and arrangements can be made

What can or cannot be printed?

Printed objects should mostly be printed for class use or as part of a Dominican University-sponsored event. Although most print requests are accepted. Library staff retains the right to refuse any print request for any reason. 

Which 3D modeling software should I use to create a printable design?

The printer only accepts files formats .STL and .OBJ.  As long as the software exports your file in one of those two formats we should be able to print your object. You can use any software you like to design your model so choose software that works best for you. The software we are familiar with and have loaded in the Media Center are Tinkercad and Blender. Visit the Software and 3D Models tab for some of our software recommendations or visit either 3D printing for beginners and Shapeway for some more excellent recommendations.

Which file formats do you accept?

The printer accepts .STL and .OBJ files. Most 3D modeling programs can save and export at least one of those two formats. 

What kind of filament is used?

Both ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), PLA (Polylactic Acid), CPE (Co-Polyester) and many others can be used on the Ultimaker 2+ 3D Printer. You may also purchase your own filament if you need a color we do not currently have.  Before purchasing filament, email us or stop by the Media Center to get the specifications for filament and recommended purchase sites.

How many colors can my object be printed in?

With the Ultimaker 2+, only one color can be printed at a time.

Can I request a different color filament be used for my print then what is currently on the Ultimaker 2+?

Right now we are no longer allowing for specific color requests due to the different method of changing the filament. We continually ran into issues changing filament on previous machines that lead to a lot of maintanence needing to be performed. We are trying this out for a while to see if the machines performance improves. We are sorry about this change. As a result of this, we have paint to offer if you wish your object to be a specific color.

Step 1: Preparing Your Model

You can create your model using any of the following methods:

a.     Find a previously created object from sites like Thingiverse, Yobi3DCubehero or Bld3r. You can come to the Media Center to download the previously created object or do this at home. If you decide to search for an object at home, download the object as a .STL or .OBJ and then either email us the file or bring it to the Media Center on a flash drive. 

b.     Make an appointment to come to the Media Center to get tips and help designing your own object using Tinkercad or Blender. Appointments are booked in 2 hour long blocks.

c.     Create your object using the software of your choice on your own computer for printing in the Media Center. See the Software and 3D Models tab for more information about your different software options. Most of the software is free to download. You must save your creation as a .STL or .OBJ file since those are the only two types of files we can print. Remember to save your design! The file you submit to us will be deleted after your object is printed.

Media Center staff can help you with the specific software and other questions about the printing process. Stop by or email us if you need help.

Step 2: Print Your Object

If you created your model in the Media Center, your object can be printed right away if time permits. If there is not enough time to print your object right away, your file will be saved in the Media Center and printed as soon as possible. You will receive an email when your object is ready for pickup. You will have seven days to pick up your object.

If you created your model on your own computer, you can print your object using one of the following methods:

a.     Make an appointment to come to the Media Center so we can assist you with your design before you download your file as an .STL or .OBJ. Then we will print your object after the consultation.  

b.     Submit a print request by sending an email to Your request must include your contact information, your .STL file, color and the intended use of your object. Media Center staff will review your request and put your file in the queue to be printed as times permits. 



Please allow up to five days for your object to be printed. You will receive an email when your object is ready for pickup and will have seven days to pick up your object.

Save a copy of your project. The file you submit to us will be deleted after your object is printed.

Your file will be printed as is. If you need help optimizing or troubleshooting, ask Media Center staff for help. "Complete" objects don’t always mean "successful" objects. You will be notified your object is ready for pickup even if it doesn't come out perfectly. If the print fails for hardware reasons, we'll try printing your object again. If there is an issue with your .STL file, we won't be able to print, but we can help you fix the file so you can try again.

What software can you use to make printable 3D models?

3D printing for beginners and Shapeway gives great explanations and reviews of many different 3D design software and programs available to both the new and to the experienced digital designer. While we offer a few software options at the Media Center from the beginner to the experienced, we have not tested even a fraction of the highly rated 3D software that is available. Most options are free to try and for most of these suggestions, tutorials can easily be found online or on YouTube if you run into trouble.

Tinkercad is owned by Autodesk as one of its 123Design 3D modeling software programs. Its   beginner software it is user friendly and an easily assessable way for users to make their own objects without the need to download software. You either need to create a free account or sign in using Facebook. This web based software allows you to create your own object or customize/personalize preexisting .STL files found online. *Note- this software default setting is in millimeters so opening a simple conversion table may help if you need something to be a certain size.

While it looks like architectural design software, there is more to this program then that. This easy to use and highly rated free software is one of the best ways to create a 3D objects. While this application’s dose focus on creating architectural design, interior design, and engineering projects, the user friendly software can still be used to create everything and anything as well as edit preexisting objects. SketchUp models can be exported as an .OBJ file, which can then be converted to a .STL file using MeshLab or printed as is. We do recommend that it is converted to a .STL file to make it easier to print.

Blender is a free professional 3D computer graphics software product used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D printed models, interactive 3D applications and video games. If you are new to computer generated imaging software or creating your own 3D object, this software has a high learning curve and might be difficult to use. But it’s one of the best out there and will be able to do more with this then many other options.

Mobile 3D Modeling Apps

Many of the Autodesk 123D modeling software also offer mobile options to use on your iPad, iPhone or Android phone.

Where can I find existing 3D models of objects?

Thingiverse and Yobi3D are a repository of 3D models by 3D designers from all walks of life and backgrounds. These two websites offer some of the largest gathering of created objects for people to print for themselves. Most of these files export as a .STL or an .OBJ file.

Cubehero and Bld3r are other places to find premade objects like Thingiverse and are slightly smaller and focus more on the mechanical elements and products that the 3D printer can produce.

The NIH 3D Print Exchange allows for searching, downloading, and sharing biomedical 3D print files, modeling tutorials, and educational material. If you’re looking for anything relating to biology or chemistry in the broadest terms then this is the perfect place for you to find 3D models. There are lots of options to export your file as so make sure that you select either a .STL or .OBJ file.

NASA 3D Resources has a growing collection of 3D models, textures, and images from inside and relating to NASA and space exploration. Some of the files are able to be exported as an .OBJ file but before downloading a file make sure that it is either a .STL or .OBJ file.

Smithsonian x 3D is a project to share 3D models developed from scans of their diverse collections. Not all of the collection is available for download but some of the objects are. In order to download an object from their collection you must either log in or register as a user of the site.

General Information, Tips and Tutorials

Tinkercad Tutorials

Autocad 123D Design Tutorials

Sketchup Tutorials

Blender Tips

Online 3D Modeling Communities

  • Thingiverse – A place to find premade objects and learn from people who have been developing 3D objects for anyone to use.
  • My Mini Factory – Here you can create designs and enter into contests to prove how great of a creator you are.
  • – in their blog section they give interesting and useful idea about what kind of object you can make to expand your 3D printing knowledge.
  • – This forum has creators and makers from all over the world sharing tips and issues they have run into in their 3D printing process. It is less of a place to share objects that they made and more of place for those who love to learn more about 3D print to share their knowledge.


A Bust of Steven Colbertt Rainbow PRIDE letters A Cheese Doorstop Game of Thrones Crown Prosthetics Arm