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3D Printing at the Library of Engineering and Science: FAQ

Q: How much does it cost to print?

A: It’s free as long as you stay under 50g per job, 100g per month.  If you need to print more, you will have to purchase your own material, which varies in cost (see list of recommended filament).

Q: How do I submit a print request?

A: You follow the handy-dandy steps on the first page of this libguide.  If the submission form is down, email us at walc3dpr@purdue.edu.  If email is down, bring a flash drive with your .stl file to the 2nd floor desk in the WALC.  If the desk isn’t there, you are probably having a 3d printing nightmare and should look for the golden-eyed toad to guide you from this shattered landscape.  Best luck brave one.

Q: How much is 50 grams?

A: This is a very difficult question to answer.  For instance, half a deck of cards is about 50g, but so is the large house of cards you could build with half a deck.  A golf ball is 50g, but it is very dense.  Our gallery has an example of a 50g print.

For printing purposes, your best bet is to check the grams in Cura.  Remember that changing the material (e.g. wood vs. pla) and adding or removing supports will also change the grams.  If the exact dimensions of your print are flexible, you may submit a request with the note "please print as close to 50g as possible" and we will scale the print to fit within the limits.

Q: Can I combine my print quota with my classmate and print more than 50g at once?

A: No.  If you need to print over 50g at once, please purchase material and bring it in.  Splitting objects into two sections and submitting them as two print requests is also an option.  The print quotas are in place so that we can keep 3D printing free for everyone.

Q: What colors/kinds of filament do you print with?

A: We currently have black, white, red, blue, purple, silver and gold PLA filament and a whitish nylon material for 50g prints.  In flexible material we have black, gold and clear(ish) and a print limit of ≤25g.  We also have a wood filament for ≤25g prints.  For small prints, ≤10g, we can offer a specialty filament- a cream colored opalescent material.  See our filament guide for images and more details.

Q: I’d like to print an object which is much larger than 50g. It’s larger than 400g. It’s massive. Can you print it?

A: Yes… if you provide the material and it fits within the printers’ dimensions, we can attempt to print it.  However, it is helpful to remember that prints fail.  If you are printing a smaller object and it fails, you’re only out a few grams of your own material.  If you are printing a large object, you may be out an entire roll of PLA (we once had a three day, 750g print that failed on day two when Purdue lost power for an hour).  The larger the base of the piece the more likely a corner will warp.  The taller the piece, the more likely it will de-attach from the buildplate.  We can try to print large pieces, but it is generally a better idea to split large objects into smaller pieces, and epoxy them together after printing.

What kind of material should I purchase if my print is >50g?

A: See our filament guide for all your different options!  As noted in that guide, that we have not had success printing large objects in ABS.

Q: What are the print bed dimensions?

A: The dimensions are 267 x 267 x 229mm, 10.5 x 10.5 x 9 inches.  If you see a Lulzbot Taz 6 in person and take a measuring tape to it, you may get different numbers.  The print head can’t reach the edge of the plate or the top of the printer.  If you want to print an object larger than the dimensions listed above, you will need to split it into separate parts.

Q: Do you print over the summer/holidays/breaks?

A: We print whenever the library is open.  So yes to the summer and breaks, no to university holidays.  If you have a large or experimental project you’d like to try, the summer, with its less demanding print schedule, is an excellent time for us.

Q: I would like to print several identical objects. May I, and are there limits?

A: Yes, with caveats.  You can submit a request for multiple copies of the same object, but if the objects are over 50g per print and/or 100g per month, please provide your own material.  We do not have limits on the number of objects you can print with your own material, but we will use our discretion with the print queue to make sure that we are serving as many patrons as possible (i.e. we won't be printing only your job on all four printers if there are other people in the print queue, even if you were first).  Currently the summer is the best time to submit large projects- if a request for 250 3D printed molecules is submitted the week before finals, we probably won’t be able to complete it on time.

Q: Can I print my own job? Why not?

A: No, you cannot enter the makerspace.  We do not staff the area, and we cannot let patrons use our printers unattended.  This is for your safety, and the safety of our printers.  We are very attached to our printers.  They have names, and at least one member of the print team sings to them to encourage them during difficult prints.  If you would like to see our wonderful printers in action, please email us at walc3dpr@purdue.edu and we can arrange a visit to the makerspace.

Can I submit my own project settings?

A: Yes!  If you have settings you would like us to use, just make a note of them in the comments section of your print request (e.g. 50% infill, no supports).  Cura also allows you to save your file as a project, File->Save as Project.  Our submission form may not allow you to attach a Cura project file.  If you cannot attach a file, submit the request without a file and email us at walc3dpr@purdue.edu with your Cura project file.  Please do not submit .gcodes, as we cannot easily check the settings to make sure we have the correct material and printers.

Q: Will my print hold water/be food safe/resist acids?

A: We cannot guarantee that your print will be food safe.  Can you imagine what the University lawyers would do to us?  Even if PLA is generally recognized as food safe, we print with all kinds of different material on the same print heads.  We may have been printing wood or flexible material on a printer before we started your PLA print, and some cross contamination is inevitable. 

Your 3D printed object may hold water, but, again, we cannot guarantee it (e.g. you 3D print a vase, fill it with water and put it next to your computer.  A tiny flaw causes the vase to leak one night, frying your drive.  The University lawyers eat us alive).  But feel free to experiment with printing water holding vessels!

We have gotten a few questions about the acid/base resistance of our 3D prints.  Alas, much to the sorrow of our parents, we are not chemists.  We have not tested our material in the specific situations you will be subjecting it to.  There are Safety Data Sheets (SDS) available for all 3D printing material and you may able to find more information about chemical composition and resistance on them.  The Hatchbox PLA SDS can be found here.

Q: Can I paint my object?

A: Probably!  Painting instructions can be found by searching the internet, but it depends on the material.  PLA and nGen can be painted- the bookshelf in our gallery has many painted PLA books- but paint on flexible material would probably flake off when the material flexed.  We haven’t painted all the different kinds of material, so if you aren’t sure, check the internets first.

Q: What happens if my print fails?

A: If you are using our material, we will usually attempt to re-print at least once.  Re-prints for failed jobs do not count against your print quota.  Generally if a print fails more than twice, there is something wrong with the file, the printer, or the material.  In that case we give you the best print we have, let you know what happened, and offer to work with you to make a successful print.

If you are providing your own material and the print fails, we will, as above, usually attempt a re-print.  If there is not enough material, we will contact you and ask you how you would like to proceed.  We do not offer reimbursement for patron material lost to failed prints.

Q: Can I print a weapon?

A: Nope.  Please review the University policy for 3D printing.  If an object is deemed inappropriate for any reason, we will let you know and the object will not be printed.

Q: I'm not currently a Purdue student, faculty, or staff, but I'd like to use your printers. May I?

A: Apologies, but no.  Our printers are only for active Purdue students, faculty, and staff.  Even if you pay for material and time, we can't print for anyone else.  If you search for "Lafayette Indiana 3D printing" online, you’ll find links to companies in town and online that provide 3D printing services for a fee.