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3D Printing: 3D Files

Get started with 3D printing

Preparing Your 3D File

Finding or Creating a Model
You can search for pre-existing models on the Internet to print as they are, or to modify using 3D modeling software.


You can also design your own object in any 3D modeling software. The Library does not currently provide access to 3D modeling software, but there are many free software programs available.‚Äč

  • Blender - open source 3D animation suite. Enable the 3D Printing Toolbox.
  • OpenSCAD - free software for creating solid 3D CAD models. Useful for creating models of machine parts.
  • Sketchup - comes in free or pro versions. Get the Sketchup STL from the Extension Warehouse. 
  • Tinkercad - a browser-based 3D design platform, now part of Autodesk (free version available).
  • 123D Design - a free, powerful, yet simple 3D creation and editing tool from Autodesk.


File Format
All files must be submitted as stereolithography (.stl) files.

File Naming Protocol
Please use the following naming scheme when submitting your file: lastname_firstname_modelname.stl (eg: doe_john_mystuff.stl)

Dimensions
Maximum size is 152 x 152 x 279 mm (6 x 6 x 11 in). Layers must be at least 0.1 mm thick (0.020 in).

Resolution
The standard resolution is .3 mm per layer, with 5% infill. You can specify a different quality level by making a note under "Special Instructions" on the submission form.

Multiple Parts
If your model includes multiple parts, make each as a separate STL file. You will need to submit each file as a separate request.

Make a Solid Design
The surface of your 3D model must be watertight. This means all faces of the object must construct one or more closed volume entities. Gaps or holes in the model will cause it to print incorrectly.
See Rhino's How do I Make a Solid Model.

Delete 2D Elements
Your final model should not contain any 2D elements, as they can cause naked edge problems. Delete any 2D elements that were used to create sweeps, lofts, or other complex shapes.

Geometry Check
Check your design for holes, gaps, or other problems before submission. Numerous third party tools can help you fix geometry problems, including:

  • NetFabb - provides a cloud base service and free downloadable software that can check you files
  • MeshLab - open source software for checking files

Shapeways offers a tutorial for fixing and repairing 3D models using these services.

Submit Your File






Note: You will be notified via email when your job is completed or if we have any questions. All printed objects must be picked up at the Circulation Desk within 5 business days of printing. 

If your file is larger than 5MB, please indicate this on the submission form. 

Fine Print

3D Printer Policies and Procedures
A full breakdown of our policies and procedures can be found here

Questions?
Please contact Askalibrarian@uthscsa.edu


This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, under Contract No. HHSN-276-2011-00007-C with the Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library.