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3D Printing: Preparing Your 3D File

Get started with 3D printing

Finding a Model

You can search for pre-existing models to print as they are or modify using 3D modeling software, or create your own from scratch.

Online Repositories


Useful Ready-to-Print 3D Models

  • 3D Cricothyroidtomy Trainer - A free to print cricothyroidotmy trainer model created by The Airway App.
  • oDocs Fundus - A fundus adaptor for smartphones that can be printed and assembled.
  • Base Former - Dental baser former for pouring of casts after impression taking.

Creating a Model

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

  • Tinkercad - Browser-based 3D design platform, great for beginners. Free with an Autodesk account.
  • Blender - Powerful open source 3D animation/modeling software. Powerful but has a steep learning curve.
  • OpenSCAD - Free software for creating solid 3D CAD models. Builds parts using code.
  • Sketchup - Great for architectural modeling. Comes in free or pro versions. Using STL files in Sketchup.

Optimizing Your File

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)

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).

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:

  • MeshLab - open source software for checking files

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

Submit Your File

Submit Your 3D Print

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

Please contact

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.