3D printers allow you to turn your ideas into physical objects. 3D prints are free for Elon students, faculty and staff.
Learn more about the 3D printers in the Maker Hub.
3D printing FAQs
Is there a charge for 3D printing?
No, there is no cost for printing in the Maker Hub.
Can I print whatever I want?
Are there limits to how much I can 3D print?
- A single 3D print must take less than 20 hours to print. If your file is estimated to take more than 20 hours, adjust the layer height to a larger value, like .2mm. If you need more help, stop by a location, and a Consultant can help you.
- A user can print up to 80 hours a week.
Can I print in color?
No, the objects you print with our 3D printers will be a single color. If you’d like to add more colors, you can paint the 3D prints.
How long does it take to print something on the 3D printer?
Longer than you expect. The final print time depends on the quality and detail of your printed object. Really small objects can print under an hour. Large complex pieces can take dozens of hours. Most projects fit somewhere in between. The printing software should provide you with a rough estimate of print time.
What type of plastic do your printers use?
In the past, we’ve used PLA filament. In Fall 2023, we’re piloting a new variant of PLA filament that is fully compostable. It’s called PolyTerra and can be thrown in any compost bin at Elon, allowing us to compost failed prints, and supports. Let us know if you like or don’t like the new filament. At the end of the semester, we’ll determine whether to make the switch permanent.
If you’d like to use another specialty filament for a special project, please contact the Maker Hub and explain your project and what material you’d like to use.
How to 3D print
Our 3D Printing: Getting Started training is a good introduction to 3D printing. You can take it online anytime you like.
- Cheat Sheet: If you’ve already completed the training and need a refresh, read the 3D printing Cheat Sheet.
- Printing an OBJ file: If you’re starting with an OBJ file instead of an STL file, follow these instructions (Elon login required).
Design your 3D file
Use one of these tools to design your 3d model:
Tinkercad: free web app, signup required
- Intuitive beginner 3D design program, suitable for small trinkets and simple designs
Fusion 360: free install for students, makers, and university employees
- Advanced 3D CAD/CAM package, best for technical designs and machine work, supports assemblies and multiple components.
Solidworks: Free to use in the Maker Hub
- Advanced 3D software, used in Elon’s Engineering classes.
Find a 3D file
The Internet is full of 3D files you can download and print. There are many repositories for 3D files, like:
- National Institute of Health
- The British Museum
- Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East
Send your 3D file to Maker Hub printers
3DPrinterOS allows you to send your 3D file to our printers from anywhere. To access it, go to cloud.3dprinteros.com. Click the SSO tab. Select Elon University. Login with your Elon username and password.