VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Use the 3D printers

VCU Libraries is excited to announce the availability of three 3D printers in the Innovative Media department on the lower level of Cabell Library. Explore the guidelines and other materials to help you use them effectively.

About the 3D Printers

All three 3D printers are capable of creating a multitude of 3D objects out of plastic.  They are “fused deposition modeling” systems, meaning that the printers melt plastic filament into fine thread and deposit this thread layer by layer according to a 3D digital model tool path. Files can be sent to the printer via USB or the attached desktop computer.

MakerBot 5th Generation Specifications:

  • Uses polylactic acid (PLA) plastic in a 1.75mm filament
  • Maximum build size: 9.9”L x 7.8”W x 5.9”H (approximately the size of two of the larger Harry Potter books stacked on top of each other)
  • Highest resolution: 100 microns [0.0039 inches]
  • On-board camera
  • Assisted leveling of the build plate
  • Uses MakerBot Desktop processing software, capable of processing .stl, .obj., .thing, and .makerbot files

More information on the MakerBot Replicator 5th Generation printer.

Ultimaker 2 Specifications:

  • Uses polylactic acid (PLA) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic in a 2.85mm (known as "3mm") filament
  • Maximum build size: 9.06”W x 8.9”D x 8.1”H (approximately the size of three of the larger Harry Potter books stacked on top of each other)
  • Highest resolution: 20 microns [0.00079 inches]
  • Semi-assisted leveling of the build plate
  • Primarily uses Cura processing software, capable of processing STL / OBJ / DAE / AMF files from SD card or through direct computer connection.

More information on the Ultimaker 2 printer.

Lulzbot TAZ 5 Specifications:

  • Prints with 3mm (2.85mm) filament in a wide array of materials: ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, wood filled filaments, Polyester (Tritan), PETT, bronze and copper filled filaments, Polycarbonate, Nylon, PETG, conductive PLA and ABS, UV luminescent filaments, PCTPE, PC-ABS, Alloy 910, and more every day.
  • Maximum build size: 11.7in x 10.8in x 9.8in (approximately the size of a human head)
  • Highest resolution: 75 microns [0.003 inches]
  • Unassisted leveling of the build plate
  • Primarily uses Cura processing software, capable of processing STL / OBJ / DAE / AMF files from SD card or through direct computer connection. Other softwares are possible as well.

More information on the Lulzbot TAZ 5 printer.

Formlabs Form 2 Specifications:

  • Note: this machine is only available on a case-by-case basis after approval by Innovative Media staff.
  • Prints with a liquid photoreactive resin (methacrylate photopolymer) that is hardened by UV lasers in a process called stereolithography. Resin options include standard (in clear, white, grey, and black), tough, castable, and flexible.
  • Maximum build size: 5.7 × 5.7 × 6.9 in
  • Resolution: 25, 50, 100 microns [0.001, 0.002, 0.004 inches]
  • Automated leveling and other functions
  • Uses PreForm processing software, capable of processing STL / OBJ files.

    More information on the Formlabs Form 2 printer.