Answered By: Donna Wrublewski
Last Updated: Sep 22, 2016     Views: 38

User registration currently consists of two parts: an independent preparation part, and a hands-on in-person orientation and training on the equipment in the TechLab with a TechLab staffer.

Part 1:

1. Find (or create) a 3D model that you would like to print. Reading through this information, and the hands-on training, are more concrete and productive with an actual printable model in mind. We have some STL File Repositories listed here to get you started. You can also use programs such as SolidWorks to create your own STL files - Caltech has a site license for faculty, students, and staff can download from More software options are listed here, and some software suites are available on special computers outside the TechLab - see here for more details.

2. Download and install the slicing software of your choice. Slicing software takes your model and creates "slices," or layers, that the printer actually prints. This is done in a programming language called gcode, which consists of specific instructions to the printer on how to print out the slices in such a way to create your model. Two free slicing software programs that are available are MatterControl (for PC/Mac/Linus) and Cura v. 15.04.2. DO NOT USE the latest 2.1 update for Cura - it will not work with our printers.

3. Visit the printer websites to familiarize yourself with printer operations. Also, look for printer-specific configuration files (which include slice settings) for the printer you would like to use. We have 3 Bukito machines and 2 Make_it machines.
     a. Bukito Documentation

     b. Make-It Documentation
Enter these settings into the slicing software you are using.

4. Export your 3D model as STL from the software of your choice and check the following:
     a. Proper scaling (dimenstions should be set to mm)
     b. Check STL for mesh errors:

  1. For basic issues, try Microsoft's automatic online 3D repair utility.
  2. For more complex mesh manipulation, you can download Meshmixer (Meshmixer documentation) or Autodesk Netfabb (free for education).


Part 2:

After you've completed Part 1, make an appointment to come to the TechLab by emailing

Related Topics