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3D Printing and Scanning: Print

An overview of 3D Printing at LSC-North Harris Makerspace

How does 3D Printing Work?

The 3D Printers in our Makerspace use a process called Fused Filament Fabrication or Fused Deposition Modeling. A special motor feeds filament into a nozzle where it is heated to its melting point. It is then extruded onto the bed where it cools. The printer builds up material by placing layer on top of layer.


Schematic representation of the 3D printing technique known as Fused Filament Fabrication; a filament a) of plastic material is feeded through a heated moving head b) that melts and extrudes it depositing it, layer after layer, in the desired shape c). A moving platform e) lowers after each layer is deposited. For this kind of technology additional vertical support structures d) are needed to sustain overhanging parts.

This image by Paolo Cignoni [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

How long does it take to print?

There are a number of factors that can influence the time it takes to 3D Print an object: the complexity of the object, the percent of infill, the thickness of the shell, the layer height, and the type of printer.

Below is an image of the Cali Cat Calibration object printed at 4 different sizes. These can give you an idea of how long it might take to print out your object. They were printed using the default setting for the Monoprice MP Mini Select v2 Printer in CURA.

An example of 3D Printing - the same Cat printed 4 different times at various heights, next to a ruler for comparison.The Green Cat took 18 minutes to print.

The Blue Cat took 35 minutes to print.

The Pink Cat took 2 hours to print.

The Purple Cat took 3 hours and 40 minutes to print.

Our Printers

We have a number of 3D Printers with different abilities. For the vast majority of prints we use PLA, a type of plastic created from renewable sources like cornstarch or sugarcane.

While you can connect a computer directly to the printer to print, we prefer to load print jobs onto an SD Card that is then loaded into the printer.

Print jobs can vary greatly in the amount of time to complete. A job can take anywhere from a few minutes to a day depending on things like volume, infill density, and complexity.

All 3D Printers require an appointment to use.

gMax 1.5 XT+

This large format printer can print items up to 16" x 16" x 21".

This printer was purchased with funds from the Title V Grant.

PRUSA i3 mk2

Midsize printer that can print object up to 9.84" x 8.3" x 8". This printer has also been equipped with the Multi Material Kit, which lets it print in four different materials or colors simultaneously.

This printer was purchased from funds from the Title V Grant.

MP Select Mini 3D Printer

Small scale printer perfect for quick jobs. Prints objects up to 4.7" x 4.7" x 4.7"

The MP Select Mini 3D Printer V1 printer was purchased with funds from the Student Library Technology Advisory Club. The 4 additional MP Select Mini 3D V2 Printers were purchases with funds from the Title V Grant.

Ultimaker 3

Besides being able to print in very high detail, this printer can use interesting filaments such as PVA, a filament that can dissolve in water. Print volume of 8.5" x 8.5" x 7.9".

This printer was purchased with funds from the Title V Grant.