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Additive Manufacturing

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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 more than 20 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.

Machine Specifications

MachinesF370 (x2)Ultimaker s5
Ultimaker 3 (x3)
Ultimaker 2+
Ender 3 v2 (x12)Form3 (x6)Mark Two
TechnologyFDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication)FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication)LFS (Low Force Stereolithography)Continuous Fiber Reinforcement (CFR)
TutorialsStratasys TutorialUltimaker TutorialEnder 3 Sonic Pad tutorialFormlabs TutorialTBD
SoftwareGrabCAD PrintCuraCuraPreFormEiger
Layer Resolution0.005", 0.007", 0.010", 0.013"0.06mm - 0.25mm0.1mm - 0.25mm25μm, 50μm, 100μm, 140μm, 300μm, depending on resin100 μm - 200 μm
Build volume (xyz)14" x 10" x 14"13" x 9.4" x 11.8"
8.7" x 8.7" x 8"
220 x 220 x 240mm5.7” × 5.7” × 6.9”320 x 132 x 154mm
QSR soluble support material
Ultimaker brand filaments are stocked, except for ABSPLA (polylactic acid)Most Formlabs Form 3 compatible resins are stocked. Dental and medical resins are not supportedOnyx base material with optional continuous fibers
Best option for:Reliability.
Fastest option for large prints
Inexpensive or experimental printsInexpensive or experimental printsSmall, precise parts with intricate features.
When a specific resin's material properties are required.
High strength and structural parts. Tooling and Fixtures.

Instructions for Use

To use the 3D printers in Room 36, 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.

Tech Notes

The machines above each have their own capabilities and limitations. Come by Room 36 to check out some parts created with each of the machines and get a better feel for their capabilities:

To create single-print assemblies, a gap of at least 0.020” is recommended 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.

3D Hubs and Fictiv have excellent resources for designing and finishing printed parts - for example:

Alternative Additive Manufacturing Resources

The Product Realization Lab is a teaching laboratory that welcomes all Stanford students. Occasionally, research projects require high-volume printing which 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.

On campus:

  • 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.