Section: Online Tools

SPS 3D Printing FAQ’s

3D print jobs submitted today should start printing on Wednesday 25th January 2017.

How is it printed?

The printer melts the plastic and extrudes it through a nozzle onto a heated platform, forming the model one layer at a time. After a layer is completed, the platform is moved lower and the next layer is printed.

Solid areas of models will be printed semi-hollow with a grid of plastic for strength and stability.

How much does printing cost?

We charge based on amount of material printed, including the automatically generated support material.

A setup fee is also charged. Check the submission website for current pricing.

About the plastic used

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a smooth, translucent white plastic with a low melting point. It is used in LEGO, protective headgear, car parts, suitcases, musical instruments and tattoo ink.

ABS can be sanded, painted and dyed, and glued using rubber cement, superglue or acetone.

ABS gives off toxic fumes if burnt.

Support Structures

The printer software will automatically generate support structures for models being printed, including a flat base for the model to be printed onto. To minimise the amount of support material used, try and align your model to lie as flat as possible and with no overhangs.

SPS are not responsible for the removal of these support structures. Wear eye protection and gloves while removing the support material, as they may form sharp edges.

Maximum and minimum sizes

We can print up to 10 x 10 x 10cm. Individual jobs are limited to 500cm3, which is about the size of cube with sides of 8cm.

Fine, unsupported details smaller than 1mm may not print.

Compatible file formats

Only .STL (stereolithography) files will be accepted for printing. Both ASCII (plain text) and binary (compressed) STL file formats are accepted.

STL files should be smaller than 20MB and contain less than 300,000 triangles.

Many 3D modelling and design programs have the ability to export to STL files, including:

Errors in STL files

STL files define solid objects as a mesh of triangles. Files with holes in the triangle mesh, misaligned triangles or other errors will be rejected back for you to fix.

Some tools to fix stl files include:

Errors in printing

While we aim to provide you the best 3D print we can, small defects, loss of detail and warping may occur when printing your models.