Welcome to NDSU Libraries Digital Fabrication Lab!
The Digital Fabrication Lab is a student-centered and easily accessible workspace. The Lab provides access to tools, training, and the support needed to design and produce prototypes and projects for personal, academic and professional purposes.
Regardless of experience level or major, the Lab offers opportunities for hands-on use of current and emerging technologies to solve problems, design creative works, and develop prototypes for entrepreneurial endeavors.
Support the Digital Fabrication Lab Redesign and Expansion, featuring the CoLab: A Space for Students, Designed by Students
Zachary Drechsel, Interlibrary Loan Associate
Location: Main Library 121
Universal Laser Systems 6.75 75watt Laser Engraver
- Bed Size: 18in x 32in
- Most Common materials: Cardboard, Cardstock, Assorted Woods, Plywood, Plexiglas (acrylic)
- (*Requires Safety Training and Laser Training/Certification)
Prusa i3 MK2 & MK3
- Print Bed Size (mm)
- 250 x 210 x 200
- Uses PLA PETG @ $.25 per gram
- Software: PrusaSlicer (free)
- Print Bed Size (mm)
- 280 x 280 x 250
- Uses Ngen or PLA @ $.25 per gram
- Software: Cura Lulzbot Edition (Free)
Nomad 883 Mini-Mill
- Bed Size (mm)
- 203 x 203 x 76
- Soft materials: Foams, Plastics, Composites, Wood
- Software: Meshcam (paid)
- Operating Range (m) : Min: 0.2. Max: 1.6
- Field of View: Horizontal 45° Vertical: 57.5° Diagonal 69°
- Scan Volume(m): Min: .2 x .2 x .2. Max 2 x 2 x 2
- Depth of image size (pixels): 640 x 480
- Software: 3Dsense
- Exports: STL , OBJ
Matter and Form 3D Scanner
- Scan Accuracy(mm): +/- .1
- Maximum Object Size (mm): Height 248 Diameter: 177
- weight (kg) 2.7
- Software: MFStudio
- Exports: STL, OBJ, PLY
- Floor Map
Located on the first floor of the Main Library.
What Type of File do I need?
The prefered files in order: .STL .OBJ .STEP
these three file types are the most common and are a universal format.
The preference is for a .STL file. STL is an abbreviation of “stereolithography”. This is a file format native to the stereolithography CAD software created by 3D Systems. It is a universal and recognized by most 3D software.
What type of Software Should I use?
This is a two tiered question.
Firstly, to design a project, you need a CAD program. In the lab we use Autodesk’s Fusion 360. This is free with an Education ID and seems to be the easiest for students to learn. It features the ability to interface with 3D printing programs and has a CAM (computer aided manufacturing) feature for the desktop CNC Mills.
Students may also use CREO or SolidWorks but we do not currently have these software licenses or software loaded onto our machines. These are two popular professional grade 3D modeling software programs. Google Sketchup is also an alternative, but students can run into problems exporting an .STL depending on the version they have access to.
The second tier of software is something called a slicer. This is a program that writes the “G Code”. G-code is a language in which users tell computerized machine tools how to make something. The G Code contains information like temperature of extruder head, speed at which the head travels, and coordinates of where to place the cutting head or extruded plastic.
The Slicers that the Lab uses are as follows: Makerbot Print, Slic3r, PrusaSlicer and Cura. We instruct students which one to use based off of what printer they desire to use.
Makerbot = Makerbot Print
Ultimaker = Cura
Prusa 3D Printer = Slic3r or PrusaSlicer
Lulzbot TAZ = Cura Lulzbot Edition
What type of Filament do you have?
We supply patrons with the filament used. The Filament brand we use varies from semester to semester.
We offer PLA (polylactic acid) filament. It costs .25 cents per gram. We use the Slicer to determine the weight of the part and support material if needed. We do not charge for the filament used in failed prints.
We do not allow outside filaments to be used in our machines. Quality of PLA differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. We use our own trusted materials to eliminate the variables of misprints and to ensure we do not damage our machines with sub-par filament. Proceeds from the payments go towards the Digital Fabrication Lab and to improve or refresh the equipment.
Why charge for filament?
We charge a fee for filament as a part of the design process. By attaching a fee to the project, this works as a design contraint. Reducing the cost of a print through file manipulation can be a great innovator in the design of the 3D object.
If we were to have free printing, patrons would not worry about the cost or time consideration of their projects. It is easy at that point to run the program and be done with the design. When a patron is faced with a $40+ bill, they are more prone to another iteration and improve the overall design. Skills like flat packing or composite builds are good solutions for our patrons to learn.
At this time, we will not be charging for the use of the CNC mini-Mills, Cricut Maker, or the future L.A.S.E.R. engraver. This is to ensure their use. Students are however responsible for supplying their own material for projects.
How Do I pay?
Patrons can pick up their 3D objects at the front desk. We enter their charges into the student’s library account. They can pay cash or use credit/debit cards. If the student wants to come in an do finishing work by using our tools or supplies, please encourage them to do so. We have a Dremel, sand paper, adhesives, and picks for removing support material.
Will you build this for me?
The purpose of the Digital Fabrication Lab is to raise the digital literacy of the NDSU campus. This is why we have moved away from the drop-off 3D printing service and given our patrons direct access to the tools and equipment. If you are unsure of how to make something or have ideas of how to build something, stop by the lab and talk to a technician. They are trained to assist you with the process of building and designing products.
We have in special circumstances contracted to build research or special projects. If you need assistance in a special project or research project, contact the Emerging Technology Coordinator: email@example.com to discuss your project.
*Reproduction, duplication, or matters of infringement of existing Copyright, Patents, or Trademarks is not permitted. This includes the NDSU Logo and the NDSU Bison Athletic's logo and the likes of others.
Like all campus labs, we follow safety protocols. We want to be sure that you and our other guests work in a safe environment. All NDSU campus wide policies are enforced in the lab as well as few that are unique to the space. Creating a culture of safety in our digital fabriaction lab is every community member's responsibility.
Eligible Users: All Faculty, Staff, and currently enrolled students may use the Digital Fabrication Lab.
- Eye Protection must be worn when necessary. If another member is using a tool requiring eye protection, you will be asked to do so as well.
- No food or drink is allowed in the Digital Fabrication Lab.
- Wear appropriate footwear, no open toe shoes.
- Hair, jewelry, and loose fitting clothing need to be secured prior to entering area
- Outside chemicals and materials need to be cleared with the Emerging Technologies Coordinator before use.
- Impairment: Do not work in the shop when sleep deprived, on medication that influences your judgement or dexterity, or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Use the right tool for the right job. Do not modify tools or use them in unintended ways. Doing so may result in being asked to leave or losing access.
- Clean up work areas after you are done.
- Never Dispose of Chemicals in the standard trash or by dumping them into sink or floor drains.
- We do not currently allow for storage of personal material, equipment, or projects.
The list provided is a general overview of safety requirements. You may be asked to follow rules not listed dependent on project or task. We ask that if you are unsure of how to use a machine, tool, or complete a task, please ask the supervisor on duty. We are here to help and we may have a better solution or campus resource. Understand you may be told a project or procedure may be deemed unsafe for the space or for other occupants, and turned away.
We reserve the right to deny access or use of resources.
The cost to 3D print is $0.25 per gram, with a minimum of $5 per job submitted. An estimate will be calculated prior to starting print, but may not reflect the final charge. Payment will be made at Circulation Desk.
The NDSU Libraries' equipment may be used only for lawful purposes. No one will be permitted to use the Libraries' 3D printers to create material that is:
- in violation of NDSU policies.
- prohibited by local, state or federal law.
- in violation of another’s intellectual property rights. For example, the printer will not be used to reproduce material subject to copyright, patent, or trademark protection.
See NDSU's copyright policy for more information.
We reserve the right to deny any work/project to be completed in facility.
- Safety and Laser Training Schedule (Required)
***We require an appointment for training sessions***
Please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.
Safety and Laser training are required to use machinery and the Digital Fabrication Lab. Training Seminars last a half hour and are required to operate machinery. After safety training is complete, you must wait at least 12 hours to before coming back to become certified. We ask that you come prepared with a file and work one on one with a technician for certification.
We will record your name and student ID number. Thereafter, to use the laser, you will need to show the technician your student ID. Misrepresentation of student status or certification will disqualify you and/or any participants from use of the equipment.