Additive manufacturing, sometimes called 3D printing, is a process used to build geometry out of a raw material without the constraints of traditional tooling. Generally, software is used to "slice" a 3D model into thin layers which are built successively onto a build platform. Multiple additive technologies exist, each with the ability to produce a variety of materials and geometries. Each machine and material has unique properties that should be considered when choosing a process.
The PRL has twelve 3D printers available for student use, all located in Room 36 in the Huang Engineering Center. Additive manufacturing in the PRL has been used to build functional mechanical parts/prototypes, test apparatus for research, tooling for use in other processes, and aesthetic pieces. Students are required to pay for material costs before builds begin.
|Machines||F370 (x2)||Ultimaker s5
Ultimaker 3 (x2)
|Technology||FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)||FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication)||SLA (Stereolithography)
LFS (Low Force Stereolithography)
|Tutorials||Stratasys Tutorial||Ultimaker Tutorial||Formlabs Tutorial|
|Layer Resolution||0.005", 0.007", 0.010", 0.013"||0.06mm - 0.25mm||25um, 50um, 100um, 140um, 300um|
|Build volume (xyz)||14" x 10" x 14"||13" x 9.4" x 11.8"
8.7" x 8.7" x 8"
|5.7” × 5.7” × 6.9”|
|Material|| ABS, ASA, PC-ABS, PLA, TPU92A
QSR soluble support material
|Ultimaker filaments are stocked, except for ABS||Most Formlabs resins are stocked|
|Best option for:||High reliability, structural parts.
Fastest option for large prints
|Inexpensive or experimental prints||Small, precise parts with intricate features.|
When a specific resin's material properties are required.
Instructions for Use
To use the Stratasys, Ultimaker, or Formlabs machines, you need to prepare a 3D model. All machines are reservable on Webshop to ensure that the machine will be available when you are ready. Make sure that you reserve all sessions for the duration of your print. Take a look at the tutorial documents linked above for tips on how to use a machine and its corresponding slicing software.
The three brands of machines each have their own capabilities and limitations. Come by Room 36 to look some parts created with each of the three machines and get a better feel for their capabilities:
To create single-print assemblies on the Ultimaker or Stratasys machines, leave a gap of at least 0.020” between adjacent components. For example, a pin of diameter 0.125" should be centered in a hole of 0.165" diameter to ensure that the filament does not overlap on either side between the components. If your fit is critical, building a small print to verify your geometry is recommended.
- The ultimate guide to finishing 3D printed parts
- How to spray paint 3D models
- Designing snap fit components
- How to choose the best fasteners for 3D printed parts
Alternative Additive Manufacturing Resources
The Product Realization Lab is a teaching laboratory and we find the research demand for us to print parts decreases our ability to fulfill our primary teaching mission. There is an alternative service organization on campus whose purpose is to fill this need, and there are numerous local and web-based services that can be used as well.
Additional Additive Manufacturing Resources:
If your additive manufacturing needs exceed the bandwidth of the Product Realization Lab, here are a few alternatives you might look into. Please remember that it is your responsibility to determine if a vendor, material, build process, and lead time are appropriate and will meet your needs.
- Garner Lab in Comparative Medicine. Connect through iLab. One of the big benefits to using this service is that they are part of the university system and payment for builds can be made directly with a PTA account.
Web-based: There are many web-based services that provide additive manufacturing services, using many different processes and materials.