Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or “3D Printing” is a type of additive manufacturing that is becoming increasingly popular and affordable. It is a very convenient means of developing a low-cost prototype or proof-of-concept. In this process, a filament of plastic (ABS, PLA, HIPS, Nylon etc.) is fed into an extruder, melted and deposited on a platform based on instructions (G-Code) from a computer. The Innovation Studio offers three types of 3D printers to the students:
The Lulzbot TAZ 6 is the most reliable, easiest-to-use desktop 3D printer, featuring innovative self-leveling and self-cleaning, and a modular tool head design for flexible and multi-material upgrades. With proven 3D printing technology and one of the largest print volumes in its class, the Lulzbot TAZ 6 is ready to work. TAZ 6 offers a print area of 11.02 in x 11.02 in x 9.8 in and a max resolution of 50 microns. There are 20 TAZ 6 available for use upon request.
The Ultimaker 3 Extended offers a build volume of 8.5″ x 8.5″ x 11.8″ and a layer resolution of 20 microns. It supports materials like PLA, ABS and CPE. The printer also features a heated bed and an enclosed print chamber. The studio has two Ultimaker printers which are available via the RP Lab only for special prints upon request.
Basic Operating Procedure (Lulzbots)
- The CAD file of your part is edited within the CAD software of your choice to account for tolerance and shrinkage. Interior features like holes shrink by approximately 2 percent in both x and y directions. So, a good place to start would be 1.02 times the actual dimension you want for your interior cut/hole.
- An STL file is generated from the CAD model of your part by using the File -> Save As menu. Make sure that the Chord Height is set to “0” and the Angle Control is set to “1”, binary, high resolution (watch your units).
- The STL file is imported to the “Slicer” software for the 3D printer. For example, for Lulzbot printers, the STL file is imported to Cura software.
- Within Cura, the CAD model of the part is manipulated – the part is oriented in the best possible way, and rotated, scaled or duplicated if required.
- The type of material and the quality of the print are then selected. Support structures are enabled if required.
- The software gives an estimate of the time and material required for the print job. Make sure all the settings are correct, and talk to a superuser if in doubt.
- The part is sent to a SD card by clicking the Save button. This card is then inserted into the TAZ 6 printer and your file can be selected via the operator interface.
- After the printing is completed, wait for the bed temperature to reach close to ambient temperature before removing the part. Do not try to forcibly remove the part from the hot print bed.
- If applicable, the supports are removed (using needle nose pliers, files etc.).