The MakerBot Replicator 2
Colours currently available: green, red, black, orange, yellow, natural, white, blue (glow in the dark)
The MakerBot Replicator 2
What is 3D Printing?
3D printing is the process of creating physical objects by building layers of quickly-hardening material one on top of the other. This technology has been around since the 1980s, used mostly by engineers and industry designers.
3D Printing at Dalhousie Libraries
Dalhousie Libraries has purchased a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer. This printer is based on the technology developed through Adrian Bower’s RepRap project.
The Makerbot Replicator is located in the Help Desk area of the Killam Library Learning Commons. It uses PLA plastic: an organic, eco-friendly, corn-based plastic. The current colours available are posted above. The cost of printing a 3D model is $1 per hour of printing time.
Preparing your 3D File for Printing
Your 3D file must be in STL, or stereolithographic file format, for printing. Most 3D modeling programs, such as AutoCAD and Rhino3D, will export 3D files to this format. If your 3D program does not export to the STL format, you can use the MeshLab freeware available on the Killam Library Learning Commons computers to convert your file to STL format.
Your end product cannot exceed the Replicator’s maximum build size of 225 x 145 x 150 millimeters, or 8.9 x 5.7 x 5.9 inches. Build time cannot exceed four hours.
Printing Your STL File
Picking up Your Model
Go to Help Desk in the Learning Commons of the Killam Library to claim your model. You will be given a receipt for your model listing the print cost. Take this receipt to the Circulation Desk to make your payment. Return to the Help Desk with your signed receipt from Circulation to receive your printed model.
What to expect:
● Slight imperfections, such as the small indents at the base of this object, are expected.
● You must anticipate the possibility that your model won’t come out as smoothly as it looks on your computer screen.
The Replicator 2 is best at printing objects designed from the ground up. Objects that contain extreme overhangs—or where large parts of the object are suspended in mid-air—will not print as well as objects without overhangs.
Errors in a 3D print depend on a number of factors:
● Was the STL file too complex?
● Was there something wrong with your 3D software program’s settings?
● Is PLA plastic a suitable material for printing this object?
Create a 3D model from scratch
There’s a wealth of 3D modeling software out there that can use to create a digital object. Some are easier to use than others.
SolidEdge (Dalhousie subscription) ), is an advanced software program which allows users to create complex 3D models.
FreeCAD and OpenSCAD are two free CAD (computer-aided design) software packages available online. If you’re new to 3D modeling, you may want to try Sketchup 8. It’s fairly easy to use, and has an export to STL plugin.
Download an STL file
There are a number of places where you can browse and download 3D models. Here are two examples:
Makerbot’s THINGIVERSE.COM: users can submit their 3D models to this database to make them available for free downloads. Since it is a Makerbot website, many of these objects print well on the Replicator.
shapeways.com is a searchable database of 3D model designs for purchase. Many of the 3D models on display on Shapeways require the precision of higher-end 3D printers, able to deal with overhangs and print materials other than plastic.
Use Dalhousie Libraries’ 3D repository
Browse 3D models, as well as upload and download your own creations or derivatives, which are available around the world.
3D scan a physical object
Another aspect of this pilot project is making 3D scanning available to our library patrons. A NextEngine 3D scanner will soon be located at the Killam Library, which can be used to create 3D models of physical objects.