FDM 3D Printing

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printers operate by printing melted plastic line by line, layer by layer. These printers come in all shapes and sizes (and prices) and it is becoming more and more common to see personal units on student studio desks. CAP has several machines of this type, including three Ultimaker brand and two Creality brand 3D printers. All of CAP’s printers use PLA plastic filament, a plant-based plastic material. For more information about this technology, see the FDM article on Additively.com, and see the relevant section below for printing help.

3D Printer Specifications

Brand Model Qty Build Volume (LxWxH)* Filament Dia.
Ultimaker 2+ 2 8.75“ x 8.75” x 8“ (223 x 223 x 205 mm) 2.85mm
Ultimaker 2 Extended+ 1 8.75” x 8.75“ x 12” (223 x 223 x 305 mm) 2.85mm
Ultimaker S5 1 13“ x 9.4” x 11.8“ (330 x 240 x 300 mm) 2.85mm
Creality CR-10S 2 11.8” x 11“ x 15.75” (300 x 280 x 400 mm) 1.75mm
Prusa i3 MK3S 3 9.84” x 8.3“ x 8.3” (250 x 210 x 210 mm) 1.75mm

Print Margins: Prints should be sized to allow for a minimum 0.25″ (7mm) margin between the edges of the print and the edges of the build plate to allow for a “brim”, which is added to improve adhesion of the print to the build plate. This is particularly important for prints with bases that cover most of the build plate.

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.

Available Filament

Brand Diameter Type Stocked Colors Available Colors (may or may not be in stock) Notes Cost/g
eSun 1.75mm PLA Cool White, Gray Black (full list) $0.03
2.85mm PLA Cool White, Gray Black (full list) $0.03
Makerbot 1.75mm PLA * Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow $0.05
* Glow in the Dark, Neon Green, Translucent Orange, Translucent Purple $0.07
Tough PLA * Slate Gray $0.07
Taulman 2.85mm Bridge Nylon Natural (translucent white) Flexible material. Avoid geometry requiring supports. $0.04
Ultimaker 2.85mm PLA Silver $0.05
Tough PLA Black For use with S5 only. $0.07
PVA N/A Soluble support material for S5 dual extrusion (request in notes) $0.13

Note: Since we have transitioned away from Makerbot brand 3D printers in our lab, we will no longer be restocking any variety of Makerbot brand filament, which is more expensive than other brands of equal quality such as eSun.


Estimating Print Cost

Print cost for FDM prints depends heavily on the types of geometric features in a model and the print settings for the print job, which makes it impossible to estimate print cost based on model volume alone. If you need an estimate before we start your print, you can indicate this on the form below when submitting your request. That being said, FDM 3D printing is the cheapest form of 3D printing in our lab, and even large prints can be printed economically.

We charge only for filament consumed for a print. However, if you are comfortable with 3D printing and want to generate your own cost estimate. You can use programs such as Cura, which is what the lab uses to estimate print costs. With this program, we slice your model with typical print settings, generate a estimated weight of your print, and then multiply the weight of the estimated filament by the “per gram” pricing (listed above).

Note: A tutorial on Cura can get you started here from Ultimaker. After setting up your model in Cura, the slicing function will provide a few pieces of information, such as print time, where supports are placed, and given weight for the finished print.


Printing with your Own Filament

If you want to purchase your own spools of filament (PLA only), we can use it to print your models on our machines. Verify the filament diameter corresponds to the printer you want to use (see specifications table above). Please make sure your spool is clearly labeled with your name and bring it to the 3D Printer Lab during Consultation Hours. Select “Own Filament” under Requested Color on the form below.


Printing Form

If you have 3D printed on one of our FDM machines in the past, you can use the following form to submit a new print request.

If you have not 3D printed before or if you have not 3D printed with this type of machine before, we highly recommend that you set up a Consultation Session and work with a staff member to ensure your geometry is ready for printing. There are various considerations that might affect the success of your print, including those outlined on the 3D Printing Guidelines page.

Crunch time restriction: The maximum print time allowed per print will be 24 hours. Students may only occupy one machine at a time unless multiple machines are available (no queue) and the total print time on all occupied machines will be under 24 hours. Otherwise multiple requests from the same student will be processed sequentially.


Note that beginning Spring 2022 all 3D Print Requests will be handled through the CAP Digital Fabrication Service Request form within the BSU Helpdesk system. Click the button above to open the form.