3D Printing

What is 3D printing?

3D printing is the process of creating physical objects from a three dimensional digital model. This technology has been around for awhile, but typically used by engineers and industry designers. 3D printing technology is quickly evolving and therefore public printing is becoming more common.

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What is Cura?

Cura is the software developed by Ultimaker to make 3D printing as easy and streamlined as possible. It includes everything you need to prepare a 3D file for printing and to print it. Cura is fully preconfigured to work on the Ultimaker. This is the software that speaks to the Ultimaker printre and converts the .stl files into .gcode (which is what the printer reads)

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Who can use the 3D printer?

The printer is for use by current McMaster students, staff and faculty. If you are a visiting researcher and would like to use the printer, please contact the manager of the Lyons New Media Centre (Rhonda Moore - moorer@mcmaster.ca) to see if special arrangements can be made

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How long will my print job take?

Printing a 3D object is not the same as printing something on paper. It is not an immediate process. As a 3D print starts with a bottom layer and works it's way up layer by layer, an average object can take between 4-5 hours to complete. If you download Cura, the free software used to prepare files for the Ultimaker2 3D printer, it will give an estimated printing time based on the size of your object.

Beyond this, it is difficult to estimate a time due to a number of factors:

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What happens after I submit my request?

Your request submission is placed in the processing queue. When your request reaches the top of the queue, staff will open the .STL file in Cura to examine the object. Staff look at different criteria including, but not limited to:

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What happens if I don't pick up my finished print job?

Due to the large number of print requests that we receive, we cannot hold onto a finished object indefinitely.  You will receive an email once your print job is complete with a deadline date for pick up (typically a month). Staff will send out a reminder email if the object has not been picked up in a few weeks time with a final date.

If an object has not been picked up by the deadline, we will recycle the object.

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Can I choose the colour of PLA for my print?

No, sorry.  Once a colour spool is installed, it remains on the printer until it is finished.  With the number of print requests, it would take too much time to change the colours for every print job.

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Can I use my 3D printed model with food or drink?

It is not recommended that you use anything printed on the Lyons 3D printer for food or drink. The PLA we use is a porous material, so bacteria can easily get trapped inside the material, which would be bad for anything you are going to ingest.

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