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Media Center 3D Printing

The Media Center contains a 3D Print Lab with FlashForge Dreamer printers. They are available to anyone that has a Thing that they want to have 3D printed. Things may be printed with ABS plastic or PLA. A variety of colors are available.

ABS: Best used for making durable parts that need to withstand higher temperatures. In comparison to PLA, ABS plastic is less ‘brittle.’ It can also be post-processed with acetone to provide a smoother finish.┬áLego blocks are made of ABS plastic.

PLA: PLA is useful in a broad range of printing applications. PLA plastic is also one of the more eco-friendly 3D printer materials available; it is made from annually renewable resources (sugar, corn-starch) and requires less energy to process compared traditional (petroleum-based) plastics. Outside of 3D printing, PLA plastic is often used in food containers, such as candy wrappers, and biodegradable medical implants, such as sutures.

A more detailed and extensive explanation of 3D printing is at 3Dinsider.com and others sites that can be found by searching the Internet..

Preparation

The Internet has many Things that you may download for printing. Some of them are free and some charge a fee. Generally, the more complex the Thing is the higher the price. You may also design your own Thing.

I have found that https://www.ifind3d.com/ is a useful source for finding Things to download. Ifind3D.com searches a multiple of 3D databases. Thingverse.com is also a good place to look. There are many others.

Software is available to help you design your own. Solidworks (There is a charge but available to Engineering students). Free software includes: TinkerCAD, 123D among others. SketchUp is very rich capabilites. Sketchup Mate is a free version and SketchUp Pro is a pay version.

The print volume of the Dreamer is 23 x 15 x 14 cm.

The result of your design (or download) is a file with an STL file extension.

Printing

Once you have an STL file you can use free software (FlashPrint) to set it up for printing on our printers. To get FlashPrint point your browser to http://www.flashforge.com/support-center/dreamer/, navigate to "Software & Firmware" and click on "Download Now" to download FlashPrint.

Quick print with FlashPrint:
Start FlashPrint by double clicking on the icon. You will get a screen and an outline of a box and a platform beneath it. Click on the "Load" and navigate to your Thing.STL file and click on it. It will show your Thing on the platform.
Click on the Thing image and then double click the "Extruder" button. Click on the left extruder. (Usually ABS will be on the left.) Then click the "X" to close the window and get back to the platform screen.
Then click "Print" at the top just to the right of the center.
Then click OK and it will make a Thing.gx file. Then it will start "slicing the model".
When done it will show the platform screen with the number of layers at the top left.
On the upper right will be the printing time and how much filament it will take.
The charge for printing is $0.25/meter.

(And this is the simple explanation. There are many options along the way that were skipped. You may explore.)

If you are connected to the 3D Printer clicking "Print" here will send the file to the connected printer and printing will start.
If not, let me know (email and phone # below) that you are on the way and bring the file Thing.gx (on a USB drive) to the 3D Lab in the Media Center.
I will show you to the 3D Lab.
Plug your USB drive into a computer and tell FlashPrint to load the last saved file (Thing.gz).
We will take a look at what you are printing and the printer to make sure it is going to be OK.
Clicking on "Print" will start the 3D printer. It will take up to 20 minutes to warm up (415 F) before it starts printing.

Contact Us

If you have questions or want to schedule a meeting, contact me via the email address below or stop by the Media Center on the top floor of the James White Library and ask for me.

Steve Sowder 471-6242

Updated August 23, 2017