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Mater Christi Learning Commons: 3D Printer

Resources, research support and skill development

What is a 3D Printer?

3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file.


Computer Aided Design

Plastic used to create the 3D model

File formats
*.STL (Stereolithographic)



Teaching Resources

XYZ Davinci 3D Printer

An Example of a 3D Printer


Step 1: Design your model

So you want to play with the 3D Printer. You can either replicate an item that someone else has greated, adapt and change a file that someone else has created or create your own object.

  1. Replication: Find an object that someone else has created and then just print it out. This is the easiest way to get 3D Printing satisfaction.
  2. Adaptation: Using a file that someone else has created, change it to meet your needs. Using Tinkerlab is probably the easiest way of doing this. You might have to think laterally to figure out how to do this.
  3. Innovation: Use CAD software such Blender or Tinkerlab to create something from scratch. Save it into an *.stl file and then we can import it into the 3D Printer software. There are many ways of going about this, using a number of packages such as Selva3D that can convert a 2D Drawing into a 3D file that you can then manipulate further using Tinkerlab or Blender.

Step 2: Convert your CAD file

Every 3D Printer has it's own proprietary file format. Whatever you create your CAD file in, you need to convert it and then render it for printing. This might take 15 minutes or it might take 3 hours.

The 3D Printers in the Learning Commons use *.3w file format.

The XYZ software for the Learning Commons printers will take your *.stl files, convert them and then splice them for the printer. But if you want to print via USB then you need to save it in the *.3w file format.

Step 3: Print it

Note: Please make sure that the 3D Printer is switched on before connecting to the 3D Printing software.

Your printer software should give you an estimated print time. Whilst 3D printers are designed to just "Print and Go", you do need to continually check the print job to ensure that you haven't run out of filament and that everything is printing as it should be.

  • Allow up to 15 minutes for heating up if the printer is cold.
  • Allow up to 5 minutes for cleaning the print head at the end of the process.
  • Allow up to 10 minutes for changing the filament (Learning Commons staff will do this)

Our experience is that if the software says it will take 2 hours to print, it will take 2 1/2 hours -  25% more than anticipated, not including heating up or cooling down.

Step 4: Clean up

Once you have finished your 3D Printing:

  1. Clean the print head (there is a program that does this). The 3D Printer will head up the print head and allow any left over filament in the print head to drain out.
  2. Clean the printing base and make sure that there is no residual plastic stuck to the printing base.
  3. Dust out the unit and make sure that it is clean for the next person using the wire brush to make sure there is no filament stuck to the printer head.

Report any faults as soon as possible to the Learning Commons staff.

Location of our 3D Printer

We have two XYZ Printers located in the Learning Commons

3D Printer 1: (blue one)

Speed: 15 mm3/sec

Print bed: 20 x 20 x 20 cm

Layer Resolution: 
Software: XYZ saved in *.3w format

3D Printer 2: da Vinci 1.0 Pro (red one)


Print bed: 20 x 20 x 20 cm
Print resolution: 0.1 - 0.4 diameter

Filament Diameter: 1.75mm
Layer Resolution:
Software: XYZ saved in *.3w format
System : 1.2.6