Fabrication Lab

Using the FDM 3D Printer

1. General Guidelines

  • The use of this 3D Printer is restricted to academic work only. You may not use it for personal projects, work for professional firms, or for academic work outside of Penn Design.
  • Students may not operate the 3D Printer. Only trained personnel may operate the 3D Printer.
  • Unauthorized use of the 3D Printer will result in immediate suspension of 3D printing privileges.
  • Students may not bring files to the 3D Printer until they have read and agreed to all notices and guidelines in this document.
  • Students are expected to maintain a high level of respect for the 3D Printer operator.
  • Disrespect to the operator will result in immediate suspension of 3D printing privileges.

2. File Creation (Design, Modeling & Format)

  • Students must prep their files correctly, using the FDMTemplate, prior to submitting their work to the operators. \\juno\Public\DigitalFabrication\3D-Printing-Templates\FDM-Template
  • No extra layers. Files with layers that do not pertain to the 3D Printing process will not be accepted.
  • Files size is limited to 64MB. No files lager than 64MB will be accepted.
  • Files can be created in Rhino, Maya, 3d Studio Max or SolidWorks.
  • ALL FILES MUST BE EXPORTABLE AS CLOSED STL FILES. The 3D Printer only recognizes model files in STL format that have no open edges.
  • All files must be expressed in inches at a 1:1 scale
  • Models are limited to a working envelope of 8” x 8” x 12”.
  • Students must submit and review their file with the operator prior to printing. All students who have submitted their file to the 3D Printer queue must supply their PennDesign Login as your Login ID will be used to charge your bursars’ account for your 3D print.
  • The 3D Printer operator will supply each student with an estimate of the time and cost to print the file.
  • Delete all unnecessary information.

3. Scheduling your project

  • The 3D Printing queue is posted on the door in the Digital Fabrication area of the lab. You will be entered into the queue once your file is ready and you have supplied your name, Penn Design Login ID (phone and email).
  • Due to the nature of the 3D Printing process, once a project is begun, it must be completed in its entirety.
  • Projects will be completed on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be no exceptions. Please plan accordingly.
  • No design changes will be considered once you have reviewed your file with the 3D Printer operator and the file is being printed. Additional files cannot be added to your printing time.
  • Students will be allowed to submit additional files for printing only after their name has been “worked off” the list. The only exception to this rule is that if the printer queue is totally empty, a student may sign up for one additional project.

All scheduling conflicts will be resolved by Dennis Pierattini, not the faculty member or the 3D Printer operator.

Using the 3D Powder Printer

1. General Guidelines

  • The use of this 3D Powder Printer is restricted to academic work only. You may not use it for personal projects, work for professional firms, or for academic work outside of Penn Design.
  • Students may not operate the 3D Powder Printer. Only trained personnel may operate the 3D Powder Printer.
  • Unauthorized use of the 3D Powder Printer will result in immediate suspension of all 3D printing privileges.
  • Students may not bring files to the 3D Powder Printer until they have read and agreed to all notices and guidelines in this document.
  • Students are expected to maintain a high level of respect for the 3D Printer operator. Disrespect to the operator will result in immediate suspension of all 3D printing privileges.

2. File Creation (Design, Modeling & Format)

  • Students must prep their files correctly, using the Powder Template, prior to submitting their work to the operators. \\juno\Public\DigitalFabrication\3D-Printing-Templates\Power-Template
  • No extra layers. Files with layers that do not pertain to the 3D Printing process will not be accepted.
  • Files size is limited to 64MB. No files lager than 64MB will be accepted.
  • Files can be created in Rhino, Maya, 3d Studio Max or SolidWorks.
  • ALL FILES MUST BE EXPORTABLE AS CLOSED zbd, zpr, stl, vrml or ply FILES. The 3D Powder Printer only recognizes model files in these formats.
  • Files must have no open edges.
  • All files must be expressed in inches at a 1:1 scale
  • Models are limited to a working envelope of 10”width x15”length x8 height”.
  • Students must submit and review their file with the operator prior to printing. All students who have submitted their file to the Powder Printer queue must supply their Penn Key as your Penn Key will be used to charge your bursars’ account for your 3D print.
  • The 3D Printer operator will supply each student with an estimate of the time and cost to print the file.
  • Delete all unnecessary information.

3. Scheduling your project

  • The Powder Printing queue is posted on the wall in the 3D Printing area of the lab. You will be entered into the queue once your file is ready and you have supplied your name, Penn Design Login ID (phone and email).
  • Due to the nature of the Powder Printing process, once a project is begun, it must be completed in its entirety.
  • Projects will be completed on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be no exceptions. Please plan accordingly.
  • No design changes will be considered after you have reviewed your file with the 3D Printer operator and the file is being printed. Additional files cannot be added to your current printing time.
  • Students will be allowed to submit additional files for printing only after their name has been “worked off” the queue. The only exception to this rule is that if the printer queue is totally empty, a student may sign up for one additional project.

​All scheduling conflicts will be resolved by Dennis Pierattini, not the faculty member or the 3D Printer operator.

Q&A 3D Powder Printing

Q: ) How thin of a wall can I print if that wall is not supported (free wall)?
A: ) 1/8” is the thinnest wall that can be printed with no supports.

Q: ) What is the thinnest wall I can print that is supported?
A: ) If your wall is supported you can successfully print a wall that is 3/32” thick.

Q: ) What is the thinnest wire form I can print?
A: ) Whether you wire is supported or free the thinnest you can print is 1/8”.

Q: ) If I want to emboss or engrave on my part, how small of a detail can I print successfully?
A: ) 1/64” is the smallest detail you can emboss or engrave, however embossing this size is still subject to breaking during the clean-up stage.

Here are some examples of how you should approach designing your models.

Sandcastle Rule: Ask yourself, “If this structure was made of wet sand, would it break?”
There is a phase in the printing process when the model is fragile and brittle. It's basically like wet sand. When you design, ask yourself this question: “If I made this out of wet sand or brittle clay, could I lift the design without it breaking?” If the answer is "no," then your design might break in production.

Hanging structures are not printable
Any structure that has a hanging component is likely to break. This includes the end piece in an unsupported, heavy object, as pictured. Another example of something that would break is a miniature of a person with an arm sticking straight out. The arm would break off.

Exposure to water will fade colors
The colors we use are similar to Inkjet Printer coloring, which fades when wet. The same principle applies to 3D printed colors. In this photo, the original color was a sky blue (as represented in the lower right of the photo), and after we dipped the model in water the blue faded and whitened. This model should not be designed for applications that requires the model to touch water.

The more supported, the thinner the structure (& vice versa)
Supported structures are structures that connect to other structures. As an example, think of an empty box. The bottom of the box is supported by the side walls, and can therefore be thinner. On the other hand, something like a fan blade is not supported except at the end. This kind of unsupported structure should be made thicker to avoid breakage during production.

Points to Remember

  • Finished models should be formatted into the correct template
  • Create manifold design from the start.
  • Make sure all surfaces connect on all edges.
  • No intersecting geometry.
  • Combine your geometry so the outer surface is continuous (water tight).
  • Delete all unnecessary information from your file.
  • Scale everything in inches at 1:1 scale.
  • Files must be less than 64mb

Please keep all of this in mind when prepping files to be 3D printed. And always come by and see the staff early and often with additional questions.