3D Printing at Gee Library

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is the process of building physical objects from digital models. Successive layers of material (filament) are laid down in thin layers to create a physical object.

What is available at Gee Library?

Currently, Gee Library has one PolyPrinter 3D 229 Printer. This 3D printer uses a filament called Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) used for many years to make all kinds of things, including the popular children’s toy LEGO®. ABS is light, durable, and surprisingly strong, making it a popular choice for tools and utensils, as well as toys. ABS is a sturdy plastic that allows prints to have a great resistance to high temperatures, so it can be used for printing things like containers that hold hot liquids. A variety of colors are available, and the build volume size for the PolyPrinter is 8” square.

Who can print?

The 3D printer is available for use by all Texas A&M University-Commerce students, faculty, and staff. Printing is done on a first-come first-served basis, taking into account the following priority order: students printing objects for course work, students printing other works, faculty and staff.

3D Printing Policies

Terms of Use and Copyright

Those wishing to utilize the library’s 3D printer must do so for lawful purposes. Users must abide by all applicable laws, University policies, and library policies while respecting the health and safety of the University community. Gee Library staff reserve the right to decline any print request deemed inappropriate, such as knifes, guns, etc.

Gee Library abides by the copyright laws of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). These laws govern photocopying or creating other reproductions of copyrighted materials. All users of the 3D printer must abide by copyright laws, and it is the responsibility of the user to ensure that all prints are compliant with copyright laws.

Please review our copyright LibGuide for more information.

Cost of 3D printing

Fees for 3D printing at Gee Library are based on a cost-recovery system. Costs are determined by the amount of filament and other materials used during the printing process. Before the object is created, the weight will be determined per software specifications. Users will be charged $0.25 per gram rounded up to the nearest gram. There is a minimum cost of $1.00 for any print request. For example, a 1 gram object will cost $1.00 to print (the minimum fee), not $0.25.

Users must pay for objects prior to printing and those items that are not picked up will be kept for two weeks. After two weeks, prints will become the property of Gee Library and may be disposed of at that time. Printing may be paid for by cash, check, LION cash or credit card. Payment and pick up of prints will be done at the Library’s Customer Service Desk on the first floor.

Refunds will only be given if the printer malfunctions or the PolyPrinter cannot print the submitted request. The user is responsible for all errors that occur during printing involving the stereolithographic (.STL) file and design of the model. If the object does not print correctly due to design errors, it is the responsibility of the user to pay for the object. It is recommended that before you submit your .STL file for printing, you utilize a software that checks for errors and helps repair them. One such software is Netfabb. It will help you repair errors such as bad edges, holes, and reversed normals. Library staff will review the submitted print job prior to printing and recommend file path corrections.

Designing your model for printing

The first step in printing your idea is to design the 3D object using a computer-aided design (CAD) software program. There are numerous open source and free software options to render your digital model including Blender, OpenSCAD, and Sketchup. A more complete listing of these options can be found on the Gee Library 3D printing web page. Users will need to submit their file in .STL file format in order for library staff to convert the file to a gcode file for printing.

If you do not wish to design your own 3D object, there are sources to find models already designed that you may print or alter and then print. One of these resources is Thingiverse.

File approval

Users must submit their files in .STL format, fill out and submit the 3D Printing Request Form (link here) along with their .STL file. Library staff will review the file and send a confirmation email to the address provided that the submission has been received. The email will state whether the file has been approved and any important information for the user and the cost. Library staff may need additional information about the print job or may need to schedule a consultation with the user. Prior to printing the users must pay for the job. Once the file has been printed, staff will send another email informing the user when to pick up the model, normally a print job will be available with-in 72 hours after payment is received. Please be aware of this restriction when placing orders that are time sensitive.

If you have several files to print, please submit each of these separately by filling out a separate 3D Printing Request Form. All submissions are subject to approval based on scheduling and availability. There may be times that the printer is malfunctioning, being repaired or experience high volume use. During such times, the 3D printer may be unavailable for use and there will be a delay in approving submissions and printing objects. Any significant lapses in printing time will be noted on the 3D printing web page.

Quality

Users may see slight imperfections in their prints. Small bumps or holes and rough edges at the base of an object may occur with 3D printing. Users will be responsible for clean-up of final object. The PolyPrinter is very accurate, but there may be some instances where objects do not fit precisely together.

The PolyPrinter builds objects from the ground up. There are instances where certain prints will require support material and/or rafts to ensure proper printing. Support material is often needed if the design has large overhangs or parts suspended in mid-air. Rafts are often used as support at the base of the model. These types of additions are easily removable by the user. Staff will not be responsible for removing any supporting material and/or rafts for the user.

Contact Information

If you would like to meet with a library staff member for additional information about 3D printing or if you have questions, please email Zachary Nichols or Chuck Brookshire .