Submitting a File to Be 3D Printed
Zortrax (FFF) 3D Printing –
- Prepare your file for printing in Z-Suite (available on all lab computers). For info on preparing the file, consult the Zortrax Quickstart Guide on the Tutorials & Templates page.
- Submit your Zortrax 3D print files to the queue by filling out the online form (you will be prompted to upload your file after you submit the form) or bringing your file on a USB stick to the Digital Output Support Lab Assistant in 235A.
- You will receive an email when your request has been processed and added to the queue. You will receive a second email when your print starts.
Form 2 (SLA) 3D Printing
- Request an estimate at go.illinois.edu/art3DprintEstimate.
- Immediatly after you submit this request, you will receive an automated email reply.
- A print estimate with the estimated cost and projected start time for your print should be expected within 1-2 business days.
- After you receive this estimate, you must confirm the estimate to reserve your place in the queue within 24 hours. If you confirm the estimate after 24 hours, the cost will likely remain accurate, but the projected start time may change. You will be notified of the revised start time, but it will be considered automatically confirmed, unless you respond with a cancellation prior to the start time of the print.
|Zortrax M200+||Formlabs Form 2|
|Technology / Material(s)||FFF: fused filament fabrication ABS Filament (black / white / first available)||SLA: stereolithography Various Resins (clear, castable, flexible)|
|Price||free||Varies by material ($.25 - $.40/ml)|
|Build Volume||7.9 x 7.9 x 7.1 in zortrax build volume||5.7 × 5.7 × 6.9 in form2 build volume|
|Max Resolution||90 microns [0.0035 in]||25 microns [.001 in]|
|Support Material||breakaway ABS||breakaway resin|
|How to Request a Print||submit a .zcodex file through the online form or bring your .zcodex file to the DOS lab assistant||submit .stl file(s) through the online form for estimate|
At Art & Design, we have several 3D printing options. Understanding the basics will help you to make an informed decision about what printing process is right for your project.
3D printers are considered to be “rapid prototyping devices” – but that doesn’t always mean that it is a quick process. Small models can often take hours or even days to print. Additionally, after it is printed, it may need to be cleaned in a chemical bath before it is ready for pick up. Also, keep in mind that the output of a 3D printer is a prototype – it is not usually considered to be a final product. Plan your project to allow for enough time to make multiple versions, and to allow for enough time to finish it by sanding and/or painting. All 3D prints require some level of finishing, and depending on what printer you use, the amount of finishing necessary may vary.
Types of Printers
Our Zortrax printers use a process call Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). With FFF printing, plastic filament is melted and squeezed through a nozzle, laying down one layer of extruded plastic at a time. The model is built by printing many thin layers of plastic. The level of detail or smoothness of the print is determined by the height of each layer of plastic.
To avoid wasting plastic, and reduce print time, the interior space of a FFF print can be filled with a looser mesh of plastic. This interior structure of the model is called “infill”. Infill is usually described in percentages – a higher percentage of infill is a denser mesh. A denser mesh results in a stronger model, so, depending on how your model will be used, it may require a higher density of infill. If your model doesn’t need to support weight, handle tension, it will significantly reduce print time to use a lower percentage infill in printing.
Our Form 2 printer uses a process called Stereolithography (SLA). With SLA printing, a printing plate is submerged in a vat of resin that can be cured, or made solid, by being exposed to ultraviolet light. A laser traces the path to be cured, and successive layers are built by raising the printing plate slightly, and curing another layer of resin to the previous layer. In SLA printing, the level of detail or smoothness is determined by the size of the point of the laser, creating prints with finer detail than is typically possible with FFF printing. Unlike FFF printing, SLA prints typically have a solid infill to avoid liquid resin from being trapped inside the model.
To build areas of a print that overhang, the printer builds scaffolding on which it builds the overhanging area. This scaffolding is called “support”. Both the Zortrax and the Form 2 printers use the same material that is used for the model for support that can be broken off and sanded away. All prints require the use of some amount of support.
Sometimes, a model can be printed in a way that minimizes the need for support, or places the support in areas that are easier to cut or break away, and sand cleanly. However, some models need to be printed at a particular angle for the printer to successfully build the model, and the support cannot be minimized. This is particularly true for SLA printing, where the model must be printed at an angle for the layers to be successfully cured to the print bed.
Success and Failure
There are many factors that determine the success of a print. All printers have limitations, and printing to the extent of the limitations often results in failure. For example, prints that come close to the maximum build volume of the printer, or that have extremely thin walls are prone to failure. Printers tend to create minor vibrations and movements that may affect the success of particularly delicate models.
Most 3D printing technology produces a model that is close to the specified size in the software, but some shrinkage should be expected. Because of this variance, it can often be difficult to 3D print parts that fit together accurately.