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3D Printing in Lovejoy Library: How to Create a Digital Model

Lovejoy Library utilizes a 3D printer that can make physical objects out of digital models. This guide will help you start using this exciting technology.

General Guidelines and Requirements

In order to print your model, our print processing software needs you to submit a solid, manifold (watertight) STL-formatted file.  The software you use to create your model is largely up to you -- the tools featured below are intended to get you started, using common and/or readily available software and hardware.  If you are already experienced in 3D modelling using more advanced tools, you can still use these as well as long as your final model is a solid, closed-surface STL (.stl) file. When your model is ready, head to the Request a Print page to upload your file.

The maximum dimensions of the build area are: 298mm x 275mm x 250mm (11.7in x 10.8in x 9.8in). Be advised these are the maximum dimensions for your reference; an item approaching 2 or three of these maximum dimensions may be impractical to complete due to time and/or cost. Please contact us if you have any questions.

The tutorials below will give you a brief overview of how to create and export a simple model using each piece of software below.  Once you know the basics you can build on your own or follow more advanced tutorials as you grow in your abilities.

SketchUp Adobe Photoshop Other Software Options
Autodesk 123D Catch 3D Scanner Download a Model

Sketchup (Novice to Expert)

SketchUp is an easy-to-use software package that allows you to build digital models from scratch, rather than starting by "capturing" physical objects.  The user interfaces and modelling techniques are intuitive and simplified versions of those found in more advanced modelling software, making it a good stepping stone toward the next levels of digital modelling.

Autodesk 123D Catch (Novice)

123D Catch is a service from Autodesk (free account creation required) that can process photos you take into a 3D model that you can view online, download, and print.  Though the detail level may be lower than more advanced modelling methods, this is the easiest way to convert physical objects to digital models ("capturing") and is useful for capturing items that can not be placed on the platform of the 3D laser scanner due to size, location, or other constraints.

Adobe Photoshop (Novice to Expert)

Though Adobe Photoshop is primarily intended for creation of 2-dimensional image products, it does provide a limited set of 3D features that can create and export objects that can ultimately be printed on the Replicator.

<video tutorial coming soon>

Other Software Options

Creation Tools and Modelling Software

  • Netfabb Cloud Service -- for repairing and making manifold .STL files. Upload your STL and download a repaired copy, optimized for 3D printing.

More Tutorials and Resources

Download a Model From a Repository

Object Repositories (download models to print or examine in modelling software)

  • Thingiverse
  • Smithsonian X3D (click the "Downloads" button beneath a model on the browse screen)
  • 3DAGOGO
  • Grabcad
  • Google Earth/SketchUp (NOTE: many of these objects are not particularly well-suited for 3D printing -- non-manifold surfaces, etc. -- and may require modification to produce a printable .STL file. Many models are of low quality. They may be a good place to start, but may not be printable as-is.)

Subject Guide

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Bill Weidler
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Library and Information Services

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