3D printing

In the fall of 2020, Nolop is closed to everyone beyond the 14 staff members who work there. If you need something 3D printed, here is how you go about it:

  1. Create an .STL file that models the part you want printed.
  2. Connect your computer to the Medford/Somerville campus network either via Tufts_Wireless, Tufts_Secure, or a VPN from home.
  3. Go to the #3dp channel at https://nolop.slack.com. (You will be asked to create an account if you don’t have one, and if you use your Tufts email, you will be auto-approved.)
  4. Post something like, “Hi, I have a model to print.”
  5. Someone on duty at Nolop will post something like, “Sure, P1 is open. I just removed the last print from it.” Working hours for our staff are posted here: https://nolop.org/hours/
  6. If all the printers are full, we’ll add your name to a queue. We erase the queue every night, because the people who are up late rarely show up to start their prints in the morning. (Hey, they were up late!)
  7. Go to https://p1.nolop.org and upload your print (or P2, or P3, or whatever, depending on which printer you are told is open).
  8. Check back in at #3dp, and we’ll let you know if it looks like the print is working.
  9. When the print is done, stop by the pickup table outside Nolop in the SEC. Take your print; feel glee.

Tutorial Videos:

3D Printing or Lasercutting? Consider the following questions!

This video will walk you through a few questions you should ask yourself when deciding whether to laser cut or 3D print.

A summary of these questions:

Is your part predominantly flat and square? Or, can it be broken down into flat components?

Generally, the laser cutter is a nicer tool for fabrication, so if it is possible to laser cut, use that.
Is your part close to exceeding 8 inches in any direction?

The 3D printer has a bed of 9.8″ x 8.3″ x 8.3″, while the laser cutter is 12″ x 24″. However, the laser cutter can only cut flat stuff.

Do you need your part done as soon as possible?

Laser cutting is generally a faster rapid prototyping tool than 3D printing. Laser cut pieces usually take a few minutes, while 3D printing can take a few hours, so if you want parts done quickly, laser cutting may be a better option.

Are you looking for precise holes/edges?

3D printed holes/edges come out of the printer smaller than the given dimensions due to plastic expansion, while laser cut holes/edges come out very slightly larger, due to the size of the laser. Generally, the laser cutter is much more precise than the 3D printers.

Do you want words or shapes etched into your part’s sides?

3D printed parts can come out a bit messy due to the filament strands. The laser cutter is great for both cutting and etching and will cut much clearer words/shapes.

Check out some great examples of laser cut vs 3D printed parts!

3D Printing: Techniques for Speed

This video is all about efficiently orienting your 3D print on the printer bed. The goal is to lay your part such that the greatest amount of surface area is flush with the bed. Any overhangs on your part will have added support material, and support material will just end up in the trash!