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3D Printing

How to use our 3D printer

3D Printing Vocabulary

3D Drawing 
A computer generated drawing that can be used in various settings, one of which is 3D printing. You can use Tinkercad, Google Sketchup, and many other free tools to make 3D drawings. 


3D Scanner
Makes a 3D drawing of an object by taking pictures. We don't have one (yet). You can also use your camera and take a bunch of pictures while you circle the object. I've got instructions here in the library or you can download them here.


An advanced 3D drawing program. Free.


A printed lip that goes around the base of your object and helps it stick to the buildplate while it's printing. You set this in Cura (the slicer).


The part of the printer where the object is printed. The Ultimaker 2 buildplate is heated, which is awesome. It helps prints stick better.


A slicing program designed to work with the Ultimaker 2. A slicer takes your .stl file (your 3D drawing, made in Sketchup, Tinkercad, etc.) and converts it to a .gcode file that the printer can read. This is where you set the size of your object, adjust printing time, put in supports, brims, set temperatures, printing speed etc.


A part of the printer. The plastic filament enters the extruder, which heats up and squirts it out like toothpaste on the buildplate.


The plastic that is heated and extruded to create the physical 3D object. There are many different kinds of filament, of varying chemical compositions that affect strength, flexibility, temperatures needed to melt, smell, color, etc. We use PLA.


Fusion 360
The big sister to Tinkercad. A flexible and powerful CAD (computer aided design) program. Free for students. 


.gcode file
The kind of file that the Ultimaker 2 reads. You download a .gcode file from Cura. You put the .gcode file on an SD card. The SD card goes into the 3D printer.

A mesh-like pattern that fills the inside of 3d printed objects. You set infill density in Cura (your slicer). 20% is the default setting.


​A free program that repairs your 3D drawings. It fills in holes and make corrections so your print is the best it can be. Upload your .stl or .obj file to Netfabb.


Part of a 3D model that hangs into midair. Remember, you can't print into thin air. You can enable supports in Cura, design supports in your 3D drawing, or sometimes you can reorient the model to solve this issue. If you get really detailed, you can build out overhangs on a 45 degree angle. They will support themselves.


Polylactic Acid - type of plastic filament used by Ultimaker 2.  PLA is a bioplastic that is made from items such as corn starch.


The program that changes your 3D drawing file (.stl) into a file that tells the 3D printer what to do (.gcode). It sets printing speed, enables supports, brims and mesh infill. We use Cura, which works best for the Ultimaker 2. Free.


.stl file 
A 3D drawing file format. Tinkercad provides .stl files. Google Sketchup provides every file type imaginable except .stl.  The Cura slicer accepts .stl only. If your file is not in .stl format, you must convert it using a free service like Greentoken or Meshconvert.


You can't print into thin air!  You can tell the slicer to design thin bars (supports) that will support overhangs.You can peel them off. You can choose several types of supports in the slicer.


​A repository where people can discover, make, and share 3D models. Users can download files of objects that others have made. Objects can be customized and modified


Free 3D drawing software.