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3D Printing FAQs

Q: What type of filament is used on the printers?

A: The library provides PLA (a hard plastic), PETG, Nylon and TPU (a flexible material) in a variety of colors. Our printers do support other types of filament but in an attempt to scale the service, we only provide PLA, PETG, Nylon and TPU. However, if you would like to experiment with other types of filament, please contact LibraryTech.

Q: What filament colors are available for printing? 

A: There are currently 4 colors of PLA available to choose from: Red, Blue, White, or Black, and only one available color of TPU (listed on the 3D Printing Request Form). You can select your preferred color in the 3D Printing Request form.

Q: Where do I pick up my print?

A: Hershey campus users should pick up your prints at the library Service Desk, just like you would check out a book. University Park Program users should pick up your prints at the UPP office: CMSB Suite 308, 1850 E. Park Ave, State College.

Q: When can I pick up my print?

A: Hershey campus users can pick up your 3D prints during the library staffed hours. UP students will be informed via e-mail when the prints are available.  Pick up arrangements can then be made with your librarian. 

Q: How much does it cost?

A: Starting from March 1st, 2023, we are charging $.05 per gram for PLA, $.05 for PETG, $.12 per gram for TPU, $.07 for Nylon, and $.07 per gram for soluble support, simply to recuperate the cost of the filament.

Q: Is there a promotional period?

A: Yes, your first 100 grams are free.

Q: How can I pay for my prints?

A: You can pay for your 3D printed objects using LionCash+, Cash, or Check. For UPP students, checks are currently the only payment option for University Park. If you are planning a course or department project that will require a lot of filament, you can pay using department budget number. You will be charged per user per filament use so that each person still receives their free 100 grams. Please contact Amy Herr for using the department budget number.

Q: Can I purchase my own filament?

A: If you have a large project, you may be able to purchase and use your own filament. Contact LibraryTech to further discuss this option.

Q: What if my print failed?

A: Print failures happen. It’s an inherent part of the 3D printing process. Print failures will fall into one of two categories: mechanical failure or faulty 3D model. If a mechanical error (i.e., filament jams, loss of power, extruder error) occurs during your print, the library will attempt to fix the mechanical failure and re-print your submission. However, print failures due to faulty models cannot be fixed by the library. You will be notified if the object cannot be printed in its current form and if the model needs to be fixed before resubmitting.

Q: What are supports and why do they count towards the cost of the print?

A: Supports are created by the slicing software to help print models with overhangs. If no supports are put in place on certain overhanging structures, then the model may sag, form spaghetti like structures, or completely fail. Supports can be easily removed after the print and the library tries to print each model with the minimum support required to ensure a quality print. Supports are counted towards the cost of your print since they use up extra material, and are required for some prints.

Q: What are soluble supports?

A: Soluble supports are supports like any other print, but are easily dissolved in water. After you receive your print, soak the object in water for 30 minutes to a few hours depending on the complexity and amount of support material. After soaking, the leftover support structure can be wiped away, or scraped off, if needed. Sometimes the library will use a combination of PLA (non-soluble) and PVA (soluble) support structure. This is to ensure a smooth print while reducing the amount of material used, reducing the cost of the print. If this is done, you may need to clip away some of the PLA support, since PLA doesn't dissolve in water. Using soluble supports in your print will cost more, since the price of the soluble material (PVA) is greater than the standard material (PLA).

Q: How do I remove rafts and supports?

A: Most rafts and supports can be removed by hand; however some might require additional tools. The library has 3D printing finishing tools (i.e., plyers, wire cutters, etc) available to finish your print.