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.

Preparing a File to be Printed

Open your .stl, .obj, or .thing file in your MakerBot Desktop or Cura software. You can typically adjust:

  • the layer thickness
  • fill density
  • shell thickness
  • whether it will print with a "raft" or "brim"
  • whether it will add supports to the model (to give overhanging parts support so that the extruder doesn't try to lay plastic out in thin air)

The specific instructions for doing so can be found in one of the following user manuals:

Remember that 3D printing is itself a kind of experiment. Choose options that you think will work best for your model. 

Note: What if you need to 3D print in higher quality, with faster turnaround time, or in different materials? If you need higher quality (higher resolution), the settings can be changed to make the build layer thinner, but remember that such prints will take more time.  If you want to shorten the time of the print job, the best ways are to print at a lower resolution (lower quality) and/or make the object smaller.  As for different materials, various printers support various materials (see About the 3D Printers).  Please let Innovative Media staff know if you would like to suggest that we get equipment to print in another specific kind of material.

Once you have selected your settings, be sure to record them for your reference and add them to the logbook.