Rapid prototyping (RP), or 3D printing, is an elegant and
simple manufacturing process. It is the way that almost any
file made with a 3D modeling package can be realized as a
physical object. Any CAD model that has wall thickness or
that is "solid" can be prototyped. The computer model is first
digitally "sliced" into very thin layers (usually a few thousands
of an inch). The RP machine then uses those slices to physically
build the object layer by layer. Some machines build by sintering
(melting) granules of plastic or hardening layers of epoxy,
while others extrude thin layers of thermal plastic, or laminate
layers of paper. Each process and material has its own interesting
advantages and disadvantages and most allow hands-on "benchwork"
for final finishing of pieces. RP was primarily developed
and used in aerospace, automotive, toy, and medical applications,
but has by now gained wide acceptance in the arts, architecture,
jewelry, and other areas. The distinct advantage of rapid
prototyping or layered manufacture over all of the other automated
processes is that it fabricates additively. This is a simple
yet profound difference. Undercuts, convolutions of form,
intricate geometry -- all are easily accomplished in an additive
3D Rapid Prototyping Procedures
1. Sign up for a two-, three-, or four-hour session (sign
ups are offered one day in advance and on a first-come, first-served
2. If you are bringing data in to work with, it must be on
3. Pick up a work slip when you check in for your session.
4. Finish editing your model and be sure it meets the following
5. Save the
file, using the unique number on your work slip, as #.stl.
digital model must have real dimension. It must either be
a solid, fully enclosed volume or a closed surface that
has wall thickness (about 1/8 inch). It cannot be an open
model must be a watertight .stl file. It must not be missing
of the face normals must be pointing in the same direction:
model must fit a build envelope of five inches cubed with
a .125-inch wall thickness; many RP machines can take larger
models, but the Studio is limiting the models to these proportions.
6. Ask a technician to validate the file with a validation program
and submit the digital file to the 3D print queue.
7. Leave the submission part of the work form with the technician
and keep the receipt part.
8. Later (probably the next day) pick up your object at the
Information Area near the Studio entrance (you will need to
present your receipt).
Note that the Studio is not a production house, but we will
make our best effort to realize your work.