Virtual Help icon Virtual Help

  • Chat with library staff now
  • Contact your library
Skip to Main Content

3D Printing: Module 5 of 10

3D Printing is a form of additive technology manufacturing. An object is built-up layer-by-layer rather than being carved or sculpted out of a larger block of material. A common analogy is to refer to a 3D printer as a robotic glue-gun: the 3D printer squeezes out or "extrudes" melted plastic through a heated tip, while the head moves back and forth to print out the design. As the platform that the model sits on lowers, the model builds up, layer-by-layer. 


  • Bring the correct file format.Make sure to bring your print job as one of the common 3D Printing file formats: stl or .obj.
  • Know which material you’re printing with.Most common personal 3D printers use PLA as the filament material, keep this in mind when designing as this may affect functionality of an object.
  • Find a design online, or create your own.You can print designs from online repositories, such as Thingiverse opens in a new window, or create your own in 3D modeling software, such as Tinkercad opens in a new window, or by using 3D scans.
  • Slice your design AFTER you’ve measured your filament.You can use the printer’s software to slice your design but you will need the exact measurements of the filament first.
  • Make modifications to reduce print time.3D printing can take a long time. You can decrease the size of the object and/or reduce the print quality to shorten the time required to print the object.
  • Persevere.Perfect results are not guaranteed. The more you 3D print, the more you will achieve better results. Allow for testing before a final print is due.