How to 3D Print at CAP

Step 1 Read about CAP’s 3D printers (below) and check out our 2023 3D Printing Steps/Checklist.
Step 2 Meet with a D-Fab staff member if you have not printed before! Complete Module 3
Step 3 Prepare your print geometry and follow the 2023 3D Printing Checklist (see below).
Step 4 If you have printed before or a staff member requests it, submit a 3D print request online.  You will receive a confirmation email and a staff member will follow up with you to schedule your print and discuss pick up procedures.

2023 3D Printing Steps/Checklist

We are excited to help all CAP students achieve their project goals in a timely manner, especially during “crunch time”.  We have developed new guidelines that will help everyone optimize the effectiveness of the 3D Print Lab and reduce delays. Follow this checklist to expedite the process.
Prior to submitting a request:
1. You are required to set up an initial consultation session if you have never 3D printed before.
2. Class projects and assignments that include introductory presentations by qualified faculty or CAP FabLab staff function as the required initial consultation session.
Submitting a request:
1. Access the service now request form here: Request Form
2. Download our Rhino template file and use it to plan your print project.
3. Ensure that each Mesh/NURB object can fit within build plate dimensions.
4. Ensure that each Mesh/NURB object is watertight and does not contain bad geometry.
5. Ensure that each Mesh/NURB object is properly exported in millimeter units to STL.
6. Any closed geometry greater than 2 square inches needs to be submitted as a separate STL file.
7. Any closed geometries smaller than 2 square inches can be exported as a group assuming all Mesh/NURB objects are aligned to Z-Zero.
8. Users interested in duplicate prints of the same geometry should construct a build plate (using the template file) and export the duplicate geometries as one STL file (assuming all Mesh/NURB objects are aligned to Z-Zero).
9. Submit all STL files using the guidance above. Only submit 3DM files as a reference/build plate diagram. If you submit a 3DM file, include dimension lines or text annotations to confirm scale and units of measurement. We will only print the STL files submitted as part of your 3D print request. Any Mesh/NURB objects included in the reference 3DM file, but not submitted as a STL, will be excluded.
10. All STLs submitted should include the filament size and color in the file name.
11. We will print all STL files with brims, supports, and with a default 20% infill unless alternatives are specified in the request notes.
1. The 3D print request que has different levels of demand.
Or goal is to keep students aware of demand conditions through a color code warning system. Red = High, Yellow = Medium, Green = Low.
2. During green conditions, the goal is to print requests within 2 business days of initial processing.
3. During red conditions, the goal is to print requests within 7 business days of initial processing.
4. Initial processing occurs at 11:00am during business days.
5. Expect longer delays on print request fulfillment if best practices outlined above are not met.
6. Users that consistently submit bad geometry or ignore best practices will be required to attend additional consultation sessions before resuming eligibility to request 3D print services.
7. We do not remove brim and support materials for you but you are welcome to use our tools in a reasonable manner.
For complete details see our3D Printing Policies and Procedures.


General Modeling Guidelines for All Printers

Keep the following items in mind as you prepare your model for printing:

  • Water tightness: Keep your volumes closed! All the printers we own determine what to print based on the boundaries of your geometry. If there is even the smallest opening in your volumes, the software does not know how to fill in the gaps. Think of your model needing to be airtight or watertight–all the edges need to be sealed.
Rhino Hint: Look in the Properties panel when you have your model selected. It should say “closed polysurface” or “closed mesh”. Sometimes problems with water tightness can be difficult to fix. Some useful commands include JoinCapPatch.

Scaling Geometry for Printing

Unsure if your model is scaled to appropriately for one of our machines?  Download our Rhino 3D Print Template, which includes the build volumes for each of our printers modeled as a wireframe box.  You can paste your geometry into one of these templates, which will convert your geometry to millimeters and allow you to fit it to one or more of our printers.        

More Information Please visit the individual pages for each type of 3D printer for guidelines specific to that type.

For more information about each printer type and to submit an associated print request, check out the following links:
FDM Printing Plastic filament-based 3D printing
Form 3 Printing Liquid resin-based 3D printing
Type Medium Machine Brands Cost Notes
FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) Plastic filament-based Ultimaker, Prusa, Creality Lower Strong, low to medium resolution, single-color prints. Larger build volumes.
SLA (Stereolithography) Liquid resin-based Formlabs Form 3 Medium Medium strength, high resolution, single-color prints. Small build volume.


Useful Tools and Links

Try these tools if you are running into modeling issues that seem impossible to fix:
  • Autodesk MeshMixer – Free software that includes a number of analysis and repair tools.
  • Microsoft 3D Model Repair – Free online service that magically fixes a lot of problems. Just upload your model, wait for it to be processed, and download the repaired model.
Other resources:


Policies and Procedures CAP offers 3D printing services to CAP students, faculty and staff at or below the cost of materials consumed per print. These services are subsidized by the CAP Dean’s Office in order to provide CAP constituents equitable access to advanced fabrication tools. The following policies and procedures are designed ensure this access.

For the purposes of this document all users of CAP digital fabrication (D-Fab) services are called clients, including faculty, staff and students.


Clients who have not 3D printed before are REQUIRED TO COMPLETE MODULE 3.
Through this Module, clients will be introduced to available 3D printing technologies and associated requirements and considerations for 3D modeling when preparing geometry for 3D printing.

Faculty considering 3D printing as a suggested or required element of a class or studio project are encouraged to contact the Lab Manager or a staff member prior to assigning the project for information about 3D printing constraints (build size, geometry limitations, typical print duration, etc.) and the feasibility of accommodating the 3D print request volume that may result.

D-Fab staff members are available to provide introductory sessions for classes and studio sections upon request.

Clients must submit 3D print requests through the CAP Fab Lab website.
D-Fab staff can assist with this process during Module 3 certifications.
– Each type of 3D printing technology made available to clients has a corresponding online request form on the CAP Fab Lab website.
– 3D print geometry must be provided at time request is submitted.
– Clients are encouraged to submit requests as far in advance of due dates as possible and to plan time for post-processing (e.g. removing supports, cleaning up print surfaces, etc).

FDM (plastic filament-based) Print Requests
– Client requests for specific printers and specific print settings will be accommodated where possible, but a print may be moved to a different machine without notice if no change to the requested filament is necessary.
– Due to software limitations not all print settings can be customized by D-Fab staff.
– For best results, include notes about the purpose behind requesting a particular setting so that staff can bring knowledge of CAP’s specific machines to bear on print setup.
– When making a request clients can choose how they will receive completed prints.

– D-Fab staff members will review all print requests prior to queuing them for printing.
– Submitted 3D models may be returned for modifications or rejected if not suitable for 3D Printing due to reasons including, but not limited to:

Improperly Scaled Geometry
ii. improperly scaled geometry (see website for build size constraints),

Bad Geometry
i. bad geometry (e.g. open meshes, non-manifold edges—see guidelines on website)
– D-Fab staff members will advise clients regarding bad geometry and options for fixing it but are not responsible for correcting bad geometry on client’s behalf.
– Error-free geometry does not necessarily mean the geometry can be reasonably 3D printed.
– D-Fab staff members will advise clients of potential issues and may encourage clients to consider alternative fabrication approaches.
In such cases clients are asked to be considerate of other patrons that may be in line and select fabrication approaches more likely to succeed.

iii. offensive or dangerous content (such as obscene objects, firearms, weapons),
iv. during crunch times, non-curricular content (toys, game pieces, action figures, household items, etc.).


– 3D printing is a complex fabrication process that is prone to failures based on numerous factors.
– D-Fab staff members, to the best of their abilities, will communicate any potential issues to clients before starting a print; however, not all failures can be predicted.
– By requesting a print, clients assume the risk of print failure in terms of both cost and time for any failure due to client error not reasonably detectable by a D-Fab staff member.
See Costs section for additional terms.

Queues & Scheduling
– We reserve the right to deny non-CAP affiliated client print requests in order to manage our resources effectively in service of CAP-affiliated clients.
– Print requests will be processed in the order received; however, newer requests may be printed before older requests due constraints related to geometry, filament choice and print duration.

– D-Fab staff will do its best to optimize print queue processing with the following factors in mind:
– Problematic geometry may require client attention before a print can be started.
– Some geometries are only printable on certain machines due to their size.
– Certain filaments can only be printed on certain machines.
– Newer print jobs that are shorter may complete before older print jobs that are longer running.
– Client “needed by” date for one job may be sooner than that of other prints, and running it first will not cause other prints to be delayed beyond associated “needed by” dates.

– D-Fab staff will do their best to accommodate client “needed by” dates but can make no guarantees due to constraints including print duration, equipment availability, and staff work schedules and hours.
– If a print cannot be completed by client’s “needed by” date, client will be notified as soon as possible.

– During crunch times (defined as the last four weeks of a semester), the following limits will be put in effect to ensure equitable access to 3D printing resources.
– No prints estimated to take longer than 24 hours will be accepted.
– Clients will be restricted to a single 3D printer (of a given type) at a time as long as there are other client requests in the queue.
– Total print time for client prints to be started simultaneously on separate machines may not exceed 24 hours.

– Outside of crunch times longer and multi-machine print requests may be accepted if there are machines available and demand is low, but special permission will be required for any of the following cases:
– A single print exceeds 48 hours.
– All machines of a given 3D printing technology or supporting a given filament diameter will be occupied by a single project for more than 24 hours.

– CAP 3D Printer Lab clients pay only for materials used for 3D printing.
– Charges for 3D prints are based on material consumption estimates generated by printer-specific software.
– Self-service cost estimation tools are available on the CAP Fab Lab website ( and SLA (resin) print types as part of the corresponding print request forms.
– FDM (plastic) print costs are calculated per gram of the filament type to be used for a print.
– Filament quantity required for a given print depends on many factors related to model geometry and print setup—client should request a remote consultation session through the CAP Fab Lab website or contact staff via email or Microsoft Teams to obtain estimates. See website for filament pricing.
– Clients are responsible for the costs associated with prints completed at their request whether or not the completed print is claimed/retrieved.
– If a client asks for a print to be canceled after it has already been started, clients will be charged for the material already consumed when the print is stopped (calculated based on percentage completion).
– Clients will be responsible for the costs associated with a failed print unless the failure is directly related to an issue with the associated machine(s) or any CAP-provided materials or if a staff member has clearly been negligent in setting up a print.
– If a client believes a D-Fab staff member has been negligent, the Lab Manager should be contacted for resolution.
– Charges for student 3D prints will be billed to students’ bursar accounts at the end of each semester.
– A client’s current balance can be provided by the Lab Manager upon request.
– Faculty members must provide a department or project-related BSU account number to be billed or may pay by check made out to Ball State University.
– A 25% surcharge will be added to the print cost for clients not affiliated with CAP

– Clients will be notified when a print is started (along with estimated completion time) and when completed.
Completed prints can be:
– Picked up at a standard pickup time (preferred). This is the default option when requesting a print. Client must come to the 3D Printer Lab (AB 005) during one of the standard pickup times (listed on website) following notification of completion to retrieve their completed print(s).
– Picked up at an individually arranged time. To arrange an individual pickup time (outside of standard times) client must respond to the notification they receive when their print is started to request an individual pickup time.
– Prints may be canceled at the client’s request or due to a print failure. If a print is canceled due to print failure and the failure is not model geometry-related, the print will be restarted unless the print will not complete before client requested “needed by” date. Otherwise client will be notified before any further action is taken.
– If a client’s print is completed and remains unclaimed for one week it may be discarded (and client will still be charged for print—see Costs section above).
Week begins after “needed by” date, if provided; otherwise after date of completion.
– CAP will not be responsible for any materials, personal tools, projects or other belongings clients leave in the lab.

– Clients will not be permitted to enter the 3D Printer Lab except during print pickup. In order to allow for social distancing, a maximum of two clients and two staff may be in the lab at one time.
–  Surfaces in the labs will be sanitized on a regular basis.
– D-Fab staff members and trained faculty are the only people authorized to interact directly with the 3D printers or associated equipment in the lab.
– Isopropyl alcohol is used to post-process resin-based 3D prints and to clean 3D printers. No open flame is permitted in the lab.

Post-processing FDM (plastic filament-based) 3D prints
i. Any post-processing is the client’s responsibility and is at their own risk.
Clients are advised to wear eye protection.
Small pieces may fly off and get in eyes.
ii. FDM prints should not be sanitized using alcohol as this can “melt” the plastic.

Post-processing Formlabs (resin-based) 3D prints
Any post-processing is the client’s responsibility and is at their own risk.
Clients are advised to wear eye protection.
Small pieces may fly off and get in eyes.