3D Printing FAQ

Visit our 3D printing information page to learn more about our service

What is 3D printing?

3D printing is an additive manufacturing process (also called rapid prototyping) in which a three-dimensional object is built by laying down successive layers of thin material.

What type of filament is used?

Our printers use PLA (polylactic acid), which is a biodegradable plant-based bioplastic usually made from corn or sugarcane. PLA is very strong, although thin pieces or connections can be brittle. PLA is BPA free but not food-grade, so please don’t print anything you plan to eat or drink from!

I don’t know how to make a 3D model, what should I do?

There are collections of 3D models available online where you can download .stl, .obj. or .thing files created by others. Some examples are Thingiverse, 3D Warehouse, and the Smithsonian X 3D.

I’m not an NDSU student, staff, or faculty. Can I still print?

Sorry, at this time 3D printing services are restricted to NDSU affiliates. For alternative 3D printing services, try Fargo 3D printing or Shapeways.

How big can my print be?

Our printers can print objects up to 11.2 x 6 x 6.1 in. (285 x 153 x 155 mm). If you wish to print something larger, we recommend dividing your model into parts that can be fitted together. If you would like a more permanent fitting, PLA does work well with superglue and other adhesives.

What color filament do you have?

Color availability will change as we restock filament. Check with 3D printing staff to see what we have at the moment.

Are there any limitations to what I can print?

The NDSU Libraries' 3D printers may be used only for lawful purposes. No one will be permitted to use the Libraries' 3D printers to create material that is:

  • prohibited by local, state or federal law.
  • unsafe, harmful, dangerous or poses an immediate threat to the well-being of others. (Such use may violate the terms of use of the manufacturer.)
  • in violation of another’s intellectual property rights. For example, the printer will not be used to reproduce material subject to copyright, patent, or trademark protection.

See NDSU's copyright policy for more information.

What type of machines do you have?

We have four MakerBot Replicator 2 printers. MakerBots are consumer-level 3D printers. For more information, see the manufacturer's details.

I’m an instructor, can I bring in my class?

Yes, we’d be happy to work with you to schedule a class workshop. Contact ndsu.library.3dprint@ndsu.edu.

Can I get hands-on with the 3D printers?

Yes,we’re planning to offer hands-on workshops soon. For more information, contact ndsu.library.3dprint@ndsu.edu.