3D Printing

Why are we offering 3D Printing?

Historically, libraries have offered access to resources often unavailable to people otherwise. Often these resources have been books. In recent times, these resources have been computer technologies and the internet.

3D printing, at this time, is often not accessible or cost effective for our typical library patron. This is a rapidly expanding field and is expected to be a highly disruptive movement. Providing access to this technology, much like the knowledge in a book, can expand horizons and unlock new possibilities for people. We feel every member of the campus community should have access to 3D printing, no matter their field of study or position description.

 We provide our university community the tools to thrive and we proudly place our 3D printing service alongside our art printing, copying, scanning, and standard print services in this endeavor.

What type of 3D Printing do we have?

We have two different types of 3D printing.

One type of printing is Fused Filament Deposition. This form of 3D printing is the most basic, with very thin layers of PLA bioplastic layered up and up to form a three-dimensional object.  We use a Makerbot Z18 printer.

The second type of printing is Stereolithography (SLA) printer. This printer uses a laser to write the design layer by layer into photosensitive resin which hardens when exposed to the laser. We use the Formlabs Form 2.

Can anybody use the 3D Printer?

Current University of Montana students, faculty, staff, and collaborators on university projects have primary use of the 3D printing. Public use will accepted at the discretion of the manager when there is availability. The Missoula Public Library has two 3D printers for public use.

Can I get hands-on experience with the printer?

Not at this time. Paw Print employees operate and set up the printer and monitor the job. The printer is visible to the public so there are opportunities to see the printer in action, even photograph your model being printed (please check with the desk attendant before entering the workspace). Please note that because of this, there is no inherent confidentiality when printing your model.

What does it cost?

Material UM Rate Standard
Makerbot PLA

$0.10 per gram

$1.00 setup permodel

$0.40 per gram

$2.00 setup per model

Formlabs Standard Resins

$0.30 per ml

$5.00 per 15 minutes setup and cleaning

$1.50 per ml

$7.50 per 15 minutes setup and cleaning

Formlabs Special Resins

$0.35 per ml

$5.00 per 15 minutes setup and cleaning

$1.75 per ml

$7.50 per 15 minutes setup and cleaning

How many colors can my model be printed in?

One. The materials we use for the 3D print come in a variety of both translucent and solid colors but the machine only prints one material at a time.

What is the model made out of?

Makerbot PLA Bioplastic or Formlabs resin

What do I need to 3D Print?

You need a .stl or .obj file as well as the dimensions you desire (in mm)

Do we create or modify 3D print files?

The library only prints models, we do not help create or modify models. There are a variety of software design programs available for free that allow for the creation of 3D files. We also have Photoshop with 3D available on the Media computers. Websites like Thingiverse  have many free 3D print files available to download or modify.

Can I print anything in 3D?

There are limitations to the resolution and capability of the current equipment. We recommend you consult with the Manager of the Paw Print if you have questions or concerns about what you want to print.

How large can I print?

The maximum print size is 12" x 12" X 18" (l x w x h) for FFD printing and 5.7” x 5.7” x 6.9” on the SLA printer.

What about model failure?

We cannot guarantee the stability, quality, or part fit of a model. We cannot modify a model in any way.  Models that fail due to a mechanical printer problem will not be charged. Models that fail due to factors other than machine error will be charged for the material that was used.

What should I expect when I pick up my model?

All 3D print models will be removed from the build platform but the model will be "raw." This means that the material used to support the model (raft and supports) will need to be removed by the patron. Small strands of filament fibers may be visible between unconnected parts of the model and may need to be brushed off or removed. SLA prints will be washed and post-cured in a UV chamber. It is recommended to finish them with a UV protectant coating for longevity.

Can my 3D print be painted or finished?

The library does not offer any finishing services but models can be finished in a variety of ways. For FFD prints, fine grit modeling clay and sanding can help smooth models out and models can be painted. Using the plain white solid filament will allow for the most finishing options.  Check out this article on model painter Adrian Yablin. SLA prints sand very well and can even have blemishes repaired by spot-fixing resin and sanding. Check out this article on painting SLA prints.

Where can I find more information on 3D modeling and repair?

The University of Arizona Library has a nicely done resource page that can help you out.