3D Printing is the creation of a physical object from a digital model.
If you have no experience with 3D printing and are looking for a great introduction to using a 3D printer yourself, or if you have a project you would like to have printed by a professional, the UM3D lab has the technologies to assist you.
Self-Service 3D Printers
Whether you need to 3d print a part for homework, research, or are just curious about 3d-printing, the UM3D Lab provides UM Faculty, Staff and Students free access to a collection of walk-up 3d printers. Material and machine operation is provided by the user, and access is by reservation. This unique approach to 3d printing puts you in control of your time and with no setup fees lower iterative design costs as well. For details see “Getting Started” under the Self Service 3d printer descriptions below.
Full Service 3D Printers
Our full service 3d printing operation addressees the needs of those who lack the time to operate a 3d printer or require parts that exceed the capability of the walk-up 3d printers. Our collection of commercial grade 3d printer are capable of producing strong ABS plastic parts, or high resolution parts produced on our ProJet in various UV curing resins to include bio-compatible, investment casting, and ABS like materials. We will inspect, quote and 3d print parts for you. For details see “Getting Started” under the Full Service 3d printer descriptions below.
Here are some important questions to consider while choosing which service model and 3d printer best fits your needs:
- What is the use of the part?
- How strong does it have to be?
- Do you need to use a specific material?
- How big is the part and the detailing on it?
- What is your budget?
There are many ways to create a digital 3D model based on what your needs are. Similarly we have a variety of printers to create the ideal part based on your priorities.
Walk-up 3D Printing – Cube 2
Self-Service Cube 3D Printers are available to students interested in learning to operate a 3D printer. These small table-top machines are great for iterative design. They are our lowest resolution printers at 200 microns, and are limited to a build volume of 5×5″. The Cube 2s print in PLA plastic, a biodegradable plant-based plastic. If you want to use it you will have to buy your own material but one cartridge can print 13 to 14 chess size creations.
Walk-up 3D Printing – Cube 3 (Coming Soon…)
As the Cube 3 is the next generation of the Cube 2 it is still easy to use, is free to use (except material), and can produce everything the Cube 2 could. Similar to the Cube 2, we only allow PLA plastic on our printers. The Cube 3 also has a few additional capabilities. It comes with 2 resolutions, 200 microns and 70 microns. There are also 2 jets so you can print with two colors or use the water-soluble support structure on your part. Cube 3 printers are not yet out for students to use on their own but they will be soon.
Full Service 3D Printing – Dimension Elite
The 3D Lab has two Dimension Elite 3D Printers that print in ABS plastic. Layer resolution can be either 254 or 178 microns so they are suitable for more polished prototyping. Because of the support structure that dissolves away, you are able to print pieces with overhanging parts, or parts inside of other parts. Larger parts can also be printed because the build plate measures 8×8″. The cost of printing depends on the volume of model and support material used on the part.
Full Service 3D Printing – ProJet 3500 HD Max
Our Projet 3D Printer is our highest resolution machine at 16 microns, making it suitable for projects that require a high degree of precision or models that feature small scale details needing to be preserved. It is capable of printing in precast for mold-making purposes but also allows you to print in a biomedical plastic suitable for implanting in the human body.
There are several materials that our printers can print in. So if you’re looking for a specific material for your part, we can help you figure out which machine you should use.
Cube 2 and Cube 3 printers in our lab exclusively use PLA plastic. PLA is a biodegradable plastic that is made from renewable resources like cornstarch or sugarcane. It is also recyclable and results in no property loss when it is done. When compared to ABS, PLA is a bit less flexible and tends to snap instead of bending. If the part does not need to be be extremely strong, PLA is a good material to start with.
For a design that is a final product or needs the strength to withstand testing, ABS plastic is recommended. It has a higher melting point then PLA and has a higher yield strength. The Dimension Elites are the only printers that print with ABS plastic. It is also available in many different colors including blue, maize, orange, red, ivory, white, and black.
M3 Crystal is a bio-compatible, acrylic-based resin that allows parts made with this material to be used in numerous medical devices. Also unlike the PLA and ABS part, these do not break along the lines where the layers are joined. In general, the material behaves like it was cast together.
ProCast parts can also be printed on the ProJet, which means that molds can also be made from a 3D printed model with investment casting.
If you need a strong part, then ask us about M3 X.
It is important to note that all ProJet materials are more costly when compared to PLA and ABS.