Skip to main content

3D printing

A guide about where to find 3D printers and training at OSU.

Please read these steps before sending your first file

What kind of printers does the library use?

The Valley Library has a Makerbot Replicator 2. It produces models from PLA filament, which is a type of thermoplastic made from plant sources.  We also have a Makerbot Replicator 2X that we have been using to print ABS models.  

The Valley Library has 4 different printers. The Valley Library has a Makerboy Replicator 2 that produces models from PLA filament, which is a type of thermoplastic made from plant sources. We also have a Makerbot Replicator 2X that we have been using to print ABS models. The Valley Library has two other printers that can print both ABS and PLA; the Lulzbot TAZ and the Fusion.

What do I need to know about creating models? 

File Format 

To print a model on the Makerbot Replicator 2, it must be exported as a Stereolithography file, with an STL extension (.stl).  Most CAD programs can save or export in this format, as can other free 3D modeling software packages, such as Sketchup Make, AutoCAD's 123D, TinkerCAD and Blender. 


The 3D model must fit within the build envelope of Makerbot Replicator 2, which is 152 x 152 x 279 mm (6 x 6 x 11 inches). The minimum thickness of a layer is 0.1 mm (0.020 in.) so the smallest features that will accurately be produced must be at least this value. It is recommended that part thicknesses be at least 0.1 mm or greater.

Manifold or Watertight

The mesh or surface of the 3D model must be watertight and a solid. More technically, all faces of the object must construct one or more closed volume entities. When the faces are not fully closed, they produce gaps or holes in the model and those holes and gaps will keep the model from printing correctly.  

Does it need to be hollowed out or completely filled?

It is not necessary to hollow-out a model in an attempt to save on material.  On the submission form you can specify the amount of infill you prefer. 


The cost for 3D printing is determined by the amount of filament used for your model, including support material. We charge 10 cents per gram. Billing will be conducted through ONID and will show up as a 3D printing charge on your account. After you submit your .stl file, we will review the model and email you with the cost to print.  Once you approve the charge, we will print the object in the order in which we received it.  We will then charge your ONID account for the printing and let you know when the job is finished.

To see exactly how many grams of filament your model will require to print on the Makerbot Replicator 2, download the Makerware software, export the file to .x3g format and run print preview.

What’s next?

Create your model

You can begin creating your model in your favorite 3D design program -  it's easiest to start with a program that will allow you to export your file as an STL file. Search the Web to learn how STL files are formed (an example is "STL Fixing: Basics and Solutions" from Objet)

As you create your model, please refer to the Tips, Tricks, & Tools section of this document. Make sure you delete any 2D elements from your model that were used to create sweeps, lofts or other complex shapes. If these elements remain in your file, they can cause naked edge problems. Remove them as you go and it will be easier to have a clean print. Remember that your model has to be a SOLID watertight object. It cannot contain 2D planes, lines or other elements that can exist in the native modeling format. 2D objects cannot be printed, even if assembled into a "box" or other solid-looking volume. The pieces must be welded together and solid forms created to be printed. 


If possible, build your model in millimeters , or convert to mm when you get ready to submit your file. Please make sure that you include this information in your file submission.

Export your file as an STL

Many 3D modeling programs have a way to export files as STL - you might have to search help files or the Web to find out how. You usually have the option to save STL files in either binary or ASCII format. Binary files are smaller, so this format is preferred. 

The file needs to be named in the following way: ONIDusername.stl.  We will also ask you for the units, so that we can verify that model is the size you expect it to be.

STL Geometry Check

Model designs containing holes and gaps adversely affect the quality of the printed model. Therefore, you should perform a geometry check of the STL files before continuing. Thirdparty software for this purpose attempts to fix the geometry of problematic files. Many companies that provide 3D printing services have a file upload that you can use to check to see if your file is OK before submitting.  Another good tool to use is a product called NetFabb, They have a free version (netfabb Basic) that you can download, as well as a pay version, that will help you analyze problems with your STL file. They also provide a cloud service that can check your files. MeshLab is another program that you can use to analzye your files. 

Submit your Model

Once you have completed your model, you can submit by filling out the request form and uploading the file.  Uploaded files must be under 5 MB. If the model is too big, attach it to an email.  If it is too big to email, you probably need to re-export the STL file using the binary file option.  Otherwise, please send an email to Valley3DPrinting and further instructions will be provided.

Go to The Valley Library 3D Printing Submission Form.

You will receive an email with information

Within 24-48 hours you will receive an email from us with information about your model. In many cases, you will need to fix certain problems with your model and resubmit. The email you receive should contain information about the problems found. Please refer to the Tips, Tricks, & Tools section of this document and any other links emailed to you to help resolve the issues.

Now that your model is corrected

Once your model is in good shape and is ready to be printed, you will be emailed a printing estimate. Once you reply to that estimate, your part will be added to the print queue for first come, first serve printing. In some situations, we may be able to combine print jobs with other users that will save on the overall print time.

How long will it take?

The length of the print process is dependent upon the size and complexity of your model. When you receive your estimate, it will include a target time when the model will be ready.  Once the part is completed, you will receive an email with information about pickup. 3D printed items will be held at the Circulation Desk in the Valley Library for pickup for two weeks after you are notified that they are ready. 


Tips, Tools and Tricks

  • If your model is made up of multiple parts, submit each part as a separate STL file. The parts can be laid out in the machine in different orientations that will optimize the print for both cost and print time.
  • Check your model's geometry.  NetFabb has a cloud service or downloadable software that does this (free). 
  • For help using NetFabb, see a Shapeways tutorial 
  • Use your software’s help files and the vendor’s websites to search for information on 3D printing. Rhino provides a link  to help with 3D rendering. 
  • There are sites that help with the commands needed to correct many problems with a model: Rhino has a page on checking/repairing meshes
  • It may be necessary to convert your solid to a mesh. Please see your software for steps on how to accomplish this.
  • Things to be careful of:
    • degenerate faces - Mesh faces that have 0 area
    • zero length edges - Edges with no length, created by degenerate faces
    • non manifold edges - Faces that have more than one face connected to a single edge
    • naked edges - A surface or polysurface edge that is not connected to another edge
    • duplicate faces - Identical faces in a single mesh
    • faces that could make it better if their directions were flipped ? The faces in a mesh object should point in a consistent direction
    • disjoint pieces - Mesh objects that do not connect but are considered a single mesh
  • Ways to cut down on your wait time:
    • Specify the highest price limit: this cuts down time on being spent waiting for price approvals before we can print.
    • If the color doesn't matter pick the "Any" option