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3D Rapid Prototyping
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 process.
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 basis).
2. If you are bringing data in to work with, it must be on a CD.
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 constraints:

  • The 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 surface.
  • The model must be a watertight .stl file. It must not be missing any facets.
  • All of the face normals must be pointing in the same direction: out.
  • The 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.
5. Save the file, using the unique number on your work slip, as #.stl.
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.


3D Data Capture
3D Modeling
3D Rapid Prototyping
3D Tutorials