Getting Started with 3D Printing

By iLabs | February 13, 2018

As one of our primary services, the Innovation Labs makes 3D printing, scanning, and design software available to all members of the NYIT community. 3D printers work by taking a design file of a three dimensional item and recreating it, layer by layer, with solid material. The Innovation Labs’ available printers and services are detailed on our 3D Printing Lab page.

There are three parts to the process of 3D printing:

  • Creating or acquiring a 3D design
  • Preparing the file for printing
  • Operating the printer

3D Design

Every print must start with a 3D design. There exists a wide variety of 3D design software packages for creating new designs. In the Innovation Labs, we provide access to the AutoDesk suite of design applications on all of our workstations. If you are new to design, the Tinkercad online application provides a great place to get started with designing your own objects. We also provide access to open source software options including OpenSCAD and FreeCad.

Downloading existing designs is another great option for getting an item to print. There exists several online collections of designs that have been made available to download and print for free. The Thingiverse online repository provides access to over 900,000 3D designs to download and print yourself.

Preparing for Printing

Once you have a design, the next step involves exporting your design as a .stl formatted file to be processed for printing. This step makes the final preparation by creating instructions for the printer to follow based on the size and shape of your design. This “slicing” step is dependent on the specific make and model of printer that you plan to use. In the Innovation Labs, we support Makerbot and Lulzbot printers. The following slicer applications are used for each and are provided on our workstations.

Operating the Printer

The final step of creating a 3D print is operating the printer. This step includes selecting the print material, called filament, and transferring your processed design to the printer. We primarily print using PLA, a non-toxic, easy to use filament. When you are ready to print, Innovation Labs staff is on-hand to perform filament loading and printer setup for your prints.

Interested in getting started? Stop into the Innovation Labs or contact us by email to schedule an appointment!