VPA's 3D printers are capable of creating models in photopolymer resins (SLA) and plastics (FDM/FFF). The printers are fee-based (material usage) and open to VPA students and faculty on a first come first serve basis. The 3D printing process can be time consuming. Project turnaround can take up to 36 hours or more depending on size, process, and material. All files should be submitted with this in mind. Students may submit any prints, however non-curriculum related projects will be placed on hold during periods of high demand.
3D Printer Types:
We have several models to choose from. Factors to help you decide which model to use include choice of material, length of time to print, coast, resolution, and how much work it takes to post-process the model after it leaves the printer. Although the shop offers FDM and SLA fee based fabrication services, we encourage students to bring their own filament and run prints free of charge on select 3D printers. If a student would like to bring their own filament they may be required to submit a material safety data sheet with it.
Stereolithography (SLA or SL; also known as stereolithography apparatus, optical fabrication, photo-solidification, or resin printing) is a form of 3D printing technology used for creating models, prototypes, patterns, and production of parts in a layer by layer fashion using photopolymerization. This process is generally slower than FDM printing, but the parts are a much higher quality. This style of 3D printing is idea for making functioning prototypes. Formlabs are our only SLA Printers, refer to 3D printer specs for bed size.
The following resin types are available for 3D printing with our SLA printers:
Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is a 3D printing process that uses a continuous filament of a thermoplastic material. This filament is fed from a large coil, through a moving, heated printer extruder head. Molten material is forced out of the print head's nozzle and is deposited on the growing workpiece.
3D Printer Specs
|Must Provide Material (1.75 mm)
The cost is based on weight/volume and will be calculated before the file is printed. The rate for PLA is $0.06 per gram of material, and SLA resin ranges from $0.24 per mL up to $0.42 per mL. Fees are deducted from your lab printing account prior to printing. If there are insufficient funds in your account, the model will not be printed.
- ABS 3D printing filament is prohibited from use in any of our shop locations on campus.
- Non-ABS experimental filaments are allowed on designated 3D printers within the fabrication space.
- If you plan on bringing your own experimental 3D filaments you will be required to supply a material safety data sheet with it.
- Any post-process surface treatments to 3D printed parts must be applied in a spray booth with ventilation turn on.
- Before making any material purchases check with a technician on staff if the material you would like to use is compatible with the process.
- When in doubt ask a shop technician.
Submitting Your Files for 3D Printing:
- All file must be exported as a STL. This can be done within all CAD software provided within the VPA digital labs.
- Make sure your model is scaled 1:1 in millimeters prior to exporting.
- Ensure the object has no non-manifold edges or naked edges prior to exporting. This will corrupt your object making it impossible to print.
- To successfully submit your file to one of our digital fabrication labs upload the STL through the file submission tab on Blackboard. Include any additional instructions as to what type of printer and resin/plastic you would like to use.
The 3D pen works by extruding heated plastic that cools almost instantly into a solid, stable structure, allowing for the free-hand creation of three-dimensional objects. It utilizes plastic filament made of either polylactic acid ("PLA"), or thermal polyurethane (“TPU”) that is melted and then cooled while moving through the pen, which can then be used to make 3D objects by hand.
Refunds will be granted only if the printer malfunctions. Models that are delicate and may not print successfully will be alerted by a technician if you choose to proceed you are responsible for all charges. Errors in the STL file are a student’s responsibility.