3D Printing Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is 3D printing?

Our 3D printers build up thin layers of melted plastic that sticks together and hardens to make three-dimensional objects. Here is a short video of the process. This is an experimental service meant to introduce 3D printing technology to the KCC community at a reasonable cost. It is not intended for commercial use, or situations where precision is essential.

2. Who can use the 3D Printing service?

This service is open to the public, but priority will be given to KCC students and faculty.

3. How much does it cost?

Print jobs will vary in cost $3 to $20. See the Gallery for examples of sizes and costs. There is a $2 setup fee for each print job, plus $0.05 per minute, rounded up to the next highest dollar. Jobs estimated to take longer than 6 hours will not be accepted. The Library may change the cost for printing if needed. You will be emailed the cost to print your model, which you must confirm before printing begins. Payments must be made in cash when you pick up your printed object at the Circulation Counter.

4. How long will it take to print my model?

Print times will vary depending on the size and complexity of the model, and scheduling will depend on the volume of requests and the availability of staff. Jobs estimated to take longer than 6 hours will not be accepted. You will be emailed with the estimated date when your object will be ready, but we cannot guarantee a specific date. If you need to have something printed right away, try a commercial 3D printing service. Requests from KCC students and faculty may be given priority over requests from the public.

5. Can I print in multiple colors? What colors are available?

Our printers will only print in one solid color. Choose from the currently available colors on the 3D Printing Request Form. See the Gallery for examples, or stop by to see them in person in the 3D Display.

6. What material does the printer use?

The Library's Cube2 printers use ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), which is a lightweight, tough, slightly flexible plastic that melts at about 221°F. It is NOT food safe. See the ABS Material Safety Data Sheet for details.

7. What is the quality of 3D printed objects?

The resolution of lhe Library's 3D printers is approximately 0.7 mm. The layers are 0.2 mm high. Text should be raised or lowered at least 0.5 mm to be legible. Because of the nature of plastic that is heated and cooled, there may be warping, cracks, small bumps or holes, rough edges, or other imperfections in finished objects. The Library will decide what level of quality is acceptable: see the Gallery for examples. If you need precise measurements or professional quality, try a commercial 3D printing service. If supports are required because of overhanging parts in a model,or if rafts are required for stability, it is up to you to remove them.

8. Is there anything I am not allowed to print?

  • Objects that are protected by copyright, trademark, or patent. (e.g. Batman, Hello Kitty, or sports team logos). It is your responsibility to ensure that the model you submit for printing does not infringe on someone else's intellectual property.
  • Weapons, illegal substances, or drug paraphernalia.
  • Objects of an inappropriate sexual nature.
  • Anything prohibited by KCC or UH policies, state, or federal law.
  • The Library reserves the right to cancel any 3D printing request for any reason.

9. How do I find a 3D model I can print?

You can use one of many online 3D model databases. Keep in mind that just because you find a model online does not mean that it will meet KCC Library's requirements for 3D printing.

10. How do I make my own 3D model?

Be creative! Try the 3D modeling software below, or see this flowchart for additional programs.

11. What is STL format?

There are several kinds of 3d file formats including 3DS, Blender, OBJ, and STL. The library's 3D printers require files in .stl (stereolithographic) format. You can convert other file types to STL using free online tools:

12. How big an object can I print?

  • The model must be smaller than 5.5" (139 mm) in each dimension.
  • The model must finish printing in 6 hours or less.

13. What are supports and rafts?

Supports and rafts are extra structural pieces that are added to your model to ensure a better print. See the Gallery for examples of rafts and supports. Our machines print in layers from the bottom up. If your model has an area with nothing beneath it then the Library's software will automatically add supports and rafts so that there is a base for the printer to print on. Supports and rafts may increase the cost of your model.

14. Is there anywhere else that does 3D printing?

Try these commercial 3D printing services if you need objects printed quickly, with greater precision, or in different materials (including metal, glass, and ceramic!)

15. I have another question!

Please send questions, suggestions, and comments to kcc3d@hawaii.edu.

Last updated 2015-12-09