3D Printing

3D Printing FAQ

What is 3D printing?

3D printing is the process of making a physical object from a 3D digital model. Also called additive manufacturing, 3D printing is the process of making a physical object from a 3D model by building it layer by layer. For more information, see this video.

What are some practical uses of 3D printing?

3D printing enables rapid prototyping, creating functional models, and is optimal for low-volume, custom or on-demand manufacturing. It is used extensively in aerospace engineering, automotive design, prosthetics and other industries.

What software can you use to make printable 3D models?

For beginners, we recommend starting with Tinkercad. It is web-based, optimized for 3D printing. 

However, almost all 3D modeling software will output the filetype (STL) our machines require. There are many options; a few popular ones are SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Inventor, Blender, Rhino 3D, and Autodesk Fusion 360. In general, solid modelers will be easier to print from than surface modelers. Information on software available to students and staff can be found at software.ncsu.edu and www.eos.ncsu.edu/software

What if I need to 3D print with higher resolution, faster turnaround time, or different materials?

There are many professional 3D printing services available, including Proto Labs (based in Raleigh), Shapeways (online) and Stratasys (online).