3D Printing

Example models printed in the SILS Computer Lab
3D printed objects

What is 3D printing?

Since its original use in industrial prototyping, 3D printing has exploded in popularity, being integrated in fields from science education to reconstructive surgery. SILS owns two 3D printers located in the SILS Library, a MakerGear M2 and Ultimaker 2+ Connect. These printers render a physical object from a digital model using a method called fused filament fabrication. Plastic PLA filament is fed through a heated nozzle that the computer moves, building the item layer by layer from the base upward. 

How to 3D print at SILS

3D printing is available free of charge to all SILS-affiliated students, faculty, and staff, including any student currently enrolled in a SILS course. Here's a step-by-step guide to printing:

  • First, find a 3D model in STL format. (Make sure it fits our policies below!)
    • Thingiverse is a great place to find models created by other people. Many of these models are licensed under Creative Commons and are free for personal use.
    • If you want to design your own model, try a free tool like Tinkercad (for beginners) or Blender (for advanced modeling).
  • Next, send your model to the SILS Help Desk.
  • Wait for a response when your model is ready!

Please contact the SILS Help Desk at silshelp@unc.edu with any questions or requests.

3D printing policies

  • Prints may be denied if they are inappropriate for SILS, such as weapons.
  • Due to fire policies, prints must be able to finish within one workday, or about 9 hours.
  • The maximum size for prints is 8 x 10 x 8 inches for the MakerGear M2 and 8.7 x 8.6 x 8 inches for the Ultimaker 2+ Connect.
  • To conserve filament, please limit personal requests to a few per semester.