Prototyping Centre

3D Printer

3D-printed letter Q

The ILC has a Dimension SST 1200es 3D printer in the Prototyping Lab. This printer can be used to create plastic models of almost any CAD design. The printer is incredibly versatile, and creates solid modelled objects in durable ABS plastic.

The printer extrudes plastic much like an inkjet printer extrudes ink. The printer draws several hundred to several thousand horizontal layers of plastic on top of one another to form a solid object. Each layer of plastic is only 0.245mm thick, and the machine itself has a horizontal resolution of 0.5mm. This allows fairly detailed parts to be created by the modeller, and many smaller shapes take only a few hours to complete.

The Dimension SST 1200es 3D printer

The machine draws its layers on top of a base that's 10" x 10" square, and then builds upwards layer by layer. Solid objects can be completely filled with plastic, or they can be filled sparsely (this is the default). Sparse means that the slicing software creates a 'raster fill', giving solid objects an interior lattice only. This makes the objects fairly strong but saves on material costs.

Anywhere there is overhanging material on the model such as holes, handles or flanges, it must be supported from below, or else the machine would be laying down plastic layers in mid-air. The modelling program calculates the amount and location of support material that's required for each object, and the finished parts end up with a brownish support material filling any holes and supporting any overhangs. The support material is soluble, and will be removed before you receive the finished part.

The ILC offers the use of the 3D printer to any project student requiring a prototype. The cost of a model is $9 per cubic inch of material (both modelling and support material) for undergraduate academic use. For all other end-users, the rate is $12 per cubic inch. Designs must be saved as .STL files, which is a solid modelling format available in most CAD programs. Solid Edge is available on all ILC computers.

3d layered model in software

Designs can be sent to Mike Vanberkel or Steve McNally for a materials cost and time estimate. While most models can be completed overnight, please allow a few days for estimates and setup. Tall, thin objects require more support material, which adds to the cost of the object. Also consider the required mechanical strength; the machine draws upwards in horizontal layers, so parts can break if enough stress is applied along those layers. If any specific strength is required please specify which axes are most important; the object's orientation can be easily changed for a better finish or for part strength.

  • The size of the object can be no more than 10" x 10" x 12",
  • Please convert the file to STL format before sending,
  • Please make sure that the scale is correct

View the Dimension datasheet here.