3D Printing Guidelines

Please take the time to read through the information made available here and on the Training Center.

0.0 Submission Checklist

Before submitting your 3D print jobs to the Innovation Centre please ensure you have fulfilled the following checklist:

  • Mesh is closed and contains no naked or non-manifold edges

  • Exported .stl file from CAD program

  • In Makerbot Print

    • Rafts are turned on

    • Supports are turned on

  • Saved .print file from Makerbot Print

  • Exported .makerbot file for each build plate after slicing in Makerbot Print

  • Ensure all files follow the naming convention

  • If your print exceeds 12 hours, you will need to book a consultation

You are now ready to upload the necessary files to the MSD Makerbot Innovation Center

File Conventions:

.stl (All mesh files into one .stl file)
.print (All print beds into the one .print file)
.makerbot (Time)_(FileNumber)_(Optional:filename)_(VersionNumber).makerbot

Makerbot Innovation Center Request Name:

(Total Time)_(Filament Colour)_(Optional:filename)_(Printer: Rep+ or Z18)

1.0 File Preparation in Rhino3D

1.1 File Preparation

When preparing a file for 3D Printing in Rhino3D, ensure that all geometries you wish to print are:

  1. Ungrouped; and

  2. Closed Polysurfaces

The ShowEdges command can be used to highlight naked or non-manifold edges.

Commands: ShowEdges
Figure 1.1.1 - Check an object's properties in Rhino3D to ensure it is closed
Figure 1.1.2 - Show Edges Command

1.2 Creating Meshes

Mesh each geometry you wish to print separately. Increasing polygons counts in your mesh will increase you mesh resolution and print time, this can be important for curved surfaces but will often not make a difference for linear surfaces.

Each mesh should be closed.

Commands: Mesh
Figure 1.2.1 - The Mesh command

1.3 Checking Meshes

Check your mesh to make sure it is either:

  1. A good mesh; or

  2. If it is a bad mesh, ie. contains naked or non-manifold edges.

Commands: Check
Figure 1.3 - Check all meshes to ensure they do not contain naked edges or non-manifold edges

1.4 Creating an STL

Depending on your workflow, you can:

  • Export each closed mesh as an individual .stl(binary) file, this will allow you to arrange your files in the makerbot software

  • Arrange your meshes in Rhino in accordance to your desired printer's bed size and export one .stl (binary) file.

Commands: Export
Figure 1.4.1 - Export meshes as Binary STL files

1.6 Submission Requirements

Please condense all printable meshes into one .stl file for submission to the Makerbot Innovation Center.

This .stl file should follow the following naming convention: (filename)_(Version Number).stl e.g. my_meshes_v1.stl

Filenames cannot have spaces in them

1.7 Mesh Troubleshooting

Please refer to our extended guide:

2.0 Slicing Using Makerbot Print

At the NExT Lab, we use Makerbot printers. These require Makerbot Print in order to be used.

2.1 Adding a Printer

Add an unconnected printer using the button at the bottom right of the screen. At the NExT Lab, we use Replicator+ and Replicator Z18 Printers.

Figure 2.1 - Adding a Printer

Once you have added the printers, Select the printer you wish to use.

2.2 Inserting Files

[INSERT] your .stl files on to your build plate(s) OR [OPEN] existing .print files.

Figure 2.2.1 - Insert models or open an existing project

Add build plates as required in the Project Panel (Top Left, Folder Icon) if necessary. You will need to export these separately.

Figure 2.2.2 - Add build plates in Makerbot Print

2.3 Print Settings

2.3.1 Quick Settings

Depending on the version of the Makerbot software that you are using, these settings are similar:

  1. Set the Extruder to [Smart Extruder +]

  2. Choose the [Balanced] print mode, and enable [Supports]

    1. On an older version, [Supports] is enabled on/off

    2. On newer versions, [Support Type] is drop down box, select [Breakaway (PLA) Support]

Figure 2.3.1 - Print Settings Dialogue

2.3.2 Custom Settings

We do not recommend adjusting the settings yourself, but we encourage you to use any of the following tested downloadable print settings that are optimised for various prints:

Figure 2.3.2 - Importing Custom Settings

2.4 Arranging your Build Plates

If you wish to print multiple files, we recommend placing the files on multiple beds, depending on size and print time.

In the below image, we can see that the estimated print time is very high and has a large footprint. Because of the way FDM printers work, this print might encounter issues such as warping.

Figure 2.3.1 - This large print is likely to encounter issues

Given the large size of this print, it is reasonable to split it up on to multiple beds.

Figure 2.3.2 - The project browser can be used to view different build plates

2.5 Helper Disks

Using sacrificial helper disks will also help to prevent warping. These disks can be added by clicking File > Insert Example File > Helper Disks, and should be placed at the corners of your models.

Figure 2.4 - Inserting sacrificial helper disks

2.6 Generate a Preview

Once your build plates are arranged, generate a print preview, and estimate.

Figure 2.5 - The print preview provides material and time estimates for individual build plates.

2.7 Submission Requirements: Saving and Exporting Files

2.7.1 .PRINT Files

Save your file as a .print by clicking File > Save Project As

This file should contain one all of your print beds that come with your request. This is used for NExT Lab troubleshooting and editing any settings if necessary.

This .print file should follow the following naming convention: (filename)_(Version Number).stl e.g. my_printFile_v1.stl

Filenames cannot have spaces in them

Figure 2.6.1 - Saving a.print file

2.7.2 .MAKERBOT Files

Your file is now ready to be sent of to the printers. Export each print bed using the [EXPORT] button on the bottom right of the window. The output file will be a .makerbot file. This file is a code package which cannot be edited or fixed. These files are what the machines require to actually print, without these, there will be nothing to print!

Each .makerbot file needs to follow the following naming convention: (Time for this file)_(JobNumber of TotalJobs)_(VersionNumber).makerbot e.g. 8hr_5of8_v1 e.g. 2hr43_1of1_v3 e.g. 43m_2of5_v4

You must adhere to the above convention, you may supplement it with a filename: e.g. 8hr_5of8_towerCBD_v3

Filenames cannot have spaces in them

Figure 2.7.2 - Exporting .makerbot and naming convention


If you are experiencing issues with Makerbot Print.

  1. Ensure you have the latest version

  2. Book a consultation with one of the NExT Lab technicians

3.0 Uploading to the Innovation Center

3.1 Logging In

Access the Innovation Centre to submit a print request to the NExT Lab. You will need to sign up using a unimelb email address.

3.2 Submitting a New Request

The default page is the Info splash page, wait times, links to guides such as this one and important announcements by staff can be found here.

Click on New Print to start a new submission

Figure 3.2.1 Innovation Centre landing page + New Print

3.3 Submission Details

3.3.1 Project/Request Name

The project name should follow the following naming convention: (Total Time)_(Filament Colour)_(Printer: Rep+ or Z18) e.g. 12hr_TrueWhite_Rep+ e.g. 18hr_TrueBlack_Z18 e.g. 43m_OceanBlue_Rep+

You must adhere to the above convention, you may supplement it with a filename: e.g. 12hr_TrueWhite_glynDavis_Rep+

Figure 3.3.1 New Request + Project Name Conventions

Fill out the rest of the details.

3.3.2 Submit Files

Be sure to include all your .stl .print .makerbot files.

Remember to adhere to the naming conventions, if you have not been naming them as you go, do so now before you upload!

Figure 3.3.2 Upload Example

4.0 Job Processing and Collection

You will receive an email at two stages:

  1. Once your request has been accepted

  2. Once your entire request has been completed

Upon receiving the second email, your request is ready for collection. During semester, request collection is located at the NExT Lab during our open hours (10am -4pm Monday to Friday). These hours can be affected by classes/events in the space.

Outside of semester, job collection is usually located at the FabLab.

Both the FabLab and NExT Lab only accept payments by card.

5.0 File Updates

You may receive e-mails from the NExT Lab asking for files to be updated. This will also be indicated by some prefix to your Request Name

Figure 5.0.1 One of the many statuses used to indicate an update is required

To ensure that we are on top of your requests, you will need to make sure that you notify us once you have updated your files by doing the following:

  1. Update your files and increment the version number: e.g. my_meshes_v1.stl > my_meshes_v2.stl e.g. 4hr_1of2_v3.makerbot > 4hr_1of2_v4.makerbot

  2. Remove the old files that you will be updating from the request

  3. Upload your new files with the updated version number

  4. Remove the change to your Request Name.

  5. Respond to the e-mail once you have done so.