Earl Guides: 3D Printing

What is 3D Printing?
3D printing is the process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file using a printer that extrudes plastic and other substances.

It is a rapidly evolving phenomenon that makes it possible to print 3D models of math concepts, reproductions of historical artifacts, and STEM projects.  The printer itself is like a tiny hot glue gun. It squirts molten plastic in the pattern directed by the computer program.
Experiment with Technology
Image of  3D printed materials: a blue bull, a red bird, and an orange labrynth
Use Our NVBOTS 3D Printer
At the Center we lease a commercial quality NVBOTS 3D printer so that the Wheelock community can learn and experiment with this technology. If you send us an email (earlcenter@wheelock.edu) we will make an account for you which will give you a browser-based dashboard and the ability to upload or use existing 3D files.
  • There is no charge for printing.
  • The file format is .stl
  • Our size limitations are 8x8x8 inches maximum.
  • The larger the file the longer it takes to print.
  • We reserve the right to pre-screen files for printing problems.
  • No genitalia, no weapons
Getting Started
Check the Earl Center events page for a schedule of trainings on general 3D printing topics and hands-on demonstrations of the software(s), processes and possibilities. You may also contact us to set up an individual appointment to discuss your idea and get started.  Call 617-879-2142 or email mparker-otoole@wheelock.edu
Approaching Your First Print: Finding Free STL fles
You don’t have to create everything from scratch. Using already created files is especially good when you are starting out so that you can get an idea of what is possible. Many files may be imported into 3D editing programs a modified to become your own creation. Here are a few sites to find free STL files/3D Print Models:
Creating Your Own 3D Print Files

You can also make things from scratch. This entails learning a program like Sketchup or TinkerCad.  3ders.org has a list of 3D design software.   You start by making a virtual design of the object you want to create. This virtual design is made in a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file using a 3D modeling program such as Sketchup Make. The finished file is an .STL file. This file gets sent to the printer which then prints it.

You can download a free copy of Sketchup Make to use on your own computer.  

Software for Printing
Most of the software related to 3d printing is free. The place most people start is with sites that offer already designed models. These can vary in quality. We recommend running your file through a repair program. That means you upload it, it gets checked and repaired (if it needs it), you download it and send it to the printer. We will then approve it and print it. https://modelrepair.azurewebsites.net/ is the site we commonly use. It will require you to use or create a Microsoft account.
 
What is an .stl file?

All3DP: STL (3D Printing File Format): Explain Like I‘m Five Unrestricted Resource
This is a good simple explanation of what the basic file of 3D printing is and does.
Free Online STL viewer
You can view an .stl file from your browser:
 
Subject Specialist
Picture: Mare Parker-O'Toole

Mare Parker-O'Toole
Assistant Director, Earl Center
Tel: 617-879- 2142

Wheelock College Library
132 Riverway Boston, Massachusetts 02215

Earl Center for Learning and Innovation
180 Riverway Boston, Massachusetts 02215