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Makerspace Guide

A collection of resources designed to facilitate the use of Pfeiffer Library's resin 3D printer, poster printer, laminator, and Cricut machine.

What is 3D Printing?

Resin 3D printing is an exciting process! How does 3D printing work, though? All commercially available 3D printers operate on the same basic principles: 

  1. A three-dimensional object is divided into two-dimensional layers, typically ranging in thickness from .03 mm to .4 mm. This is accomplished using specialized slicing software and usually results in anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand individual layers. 
  2. Next, the slicing software converts this sequence of layers into a series of instructions for the 3D printer. Because the library uses a resin 3D printer, the resulting code will instruct the 3D printer to project an image through a transparent FEP sheet for a length of time defined in the slicing software. 
  3. Light at ~405nm shines on resin between the FEP sheet and the metal build plate -- the two are separated by the layer height mentioned above, usually .03 or .04 mm. The light causes a polymerization reaction which solidifies the liquid resin, but only where the light shines. 
  4. After shining for a few seconds -- the exact length of time is defined by the slicing software and varies with each type and brand of resin -- the solidified resin is attached to the metal build plate and the transparent FEP sheet. To separate the two, the 3D printer lifts the build plate far enough for the transparent, elastic FEP sheet to peel away like a sticker or piece of velcro. The printer then lowers the build plate back into the resin, stopping one additional layer higher than it started. This creates a gap of .03 or .04 mm (one layer) between the recently solidified resin and the FEP sheet. 
  5. Steps 3 and 4 above repeat until every layer -- a few hundred or a few thousand layers for taller items -- is printed. 

...and that's it! A few hundred -- or thousand -- cycles later, a 3D print is born!

About This Guide

Resin printing is an exciting process, but there are a few things that you'll need to know before you dive in.  This guide is meant to provide a roadmap to success as you plan your first 3D print.

This guide contains the following:

Some things to keep in mind as you consider what you would like to print:

  • Pfeiffer Library owns and operates an Anycubic Mono X2 resin printer with a build volume of 7.74'' x 4.83'' x 7.87''. Designs that are larger than this will need to be divided into multiple prints and may incur additional costs.
  • Although cured resin prints are safe to touch, resin-printed objects are not food or aquarium safe.
  • Cured resin is relatively sturdy, but not quite as robust as the vacuum-formed plastic of Legos or action figures. 
  • Designs that include a large number of thin parts are more likely to break -- both during the printing process and with handling afterwards.