3D Printing FAQ

3D Printing Quickstart

Check out our 3D Printing Quickstart to walk through the steps from signing up through printing your model.

How do I signup?

  1. Fill out the Registration Form
  2. One of our staff will send you an invitation to join the NVBots Community
  3. Create your NVBots account

How do I submit a 3D print job?

  1. Login to the Printer Dashboard
  2. Click on Upload in the upper navigation bar
  3. Click on the Upload a Part button in the middle of the screen
  4. Browse to the STL part on your machine and click Open
  5. Configure print settings including infill and supports
  6. Press Submit

At this point, your 3D print job has been sent for approval.  One of the technicians will quickly look over the job and approve it or send you back a note if there is a problem.  Then your job will join the queue and you will receive email when it is done.

How Much Does the 3D Printing Service Cost?

Based on data compiled during the pilot, the cost for a part is $5/hour of printing time.  Standard quality prints have a finer layer height, but take almost twice as long as Fast quality jobs.  You can use the average grams per hour to estimate the cost of your job before submitting it:

  • Fast Quality: Average 15 g/hr (min 9.5 g/hr & max 20 g/hr)
  • Standard Quality: Average 9 g/hr (min 4 g/hr & max 20 g/hr)

If a part fails to print, we will contact you to let you know.   We will not charge for failed prints and will make some suggestions on what needs to be changed if the model is not printable.

How do I pay for my print job?

When you pick up your 3D print you can pay via the payment methods accepted by CopyTech which include TechCASH, cash and credit card.  You can also use the MIT Mobius App to pay with TechCASH including MakerBucks.

What Materials are available?

Currently the printers we have only print in PLA – Polylactic Acid.

PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch or sugarcane1.

What colors are available?

At this time, we are limited to the colors that are loaded into the printer which will usually be MIT red, a light blue or gray.  To see which color is setup on a given printer, visit the printer’s Dashboard and on the right hand side near the top.  Currently we have two printers operating in CopyTech so you can choose which printer to submit your job based on loaded color or based on the queue for the printer.  See How to select the other printer for instructions.

How to select the other printer?

Two NVPro 3D printers are setup in CopyTech.  You can choose to print to either printer.  Once a job is sent to a printer, it cannot be moved to the other printer, it can only be deleted from one printer and re-submitted to the second one.  You might want to choose the printer with the fewest jobs in the queue or because you want the color loaded on the printer.

To change between the printers, login to the NVBots Dashboard and click on your name in the upper right corner.  Select Change Group and select the other printer (either CopyTech 2 or CopyTech MIT) and click Change.  This will now display the dashboard for the printer you selected and you can see the queue and the color loaded on the printer currently.

When will my job be done?

The queueing software we are using does not currently estimate the time to completion for a job, but once you have signed up, you can view the queue and see which jobs are ahead of yours and how big they are.  Depending on the size and complexity of a 3D print job, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to many hours.  You will receive email when your job starts printing and again when it has successfully completed. Be sure to set your notification settings to email you when the time-lapse video is ready.

What printers are used for the service?

We are using the NVBots NVPro 3D printers with the automatic build removal system and cloud based queuing.

The technical specifications for the NVPro are:

  • Technology: FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication)
  • Material: PLA
  • Printer Dimensions: 21″ x 22″ x 31″
  • Build Area: 7.5″ x 8″
  • Build Height: 9.5″
  • Layer Resolution: 100 microns
  • Printing Speed: 50 mm/s – 180 mm/s

Can I watch my job printing?

Yes, you can watch the current job printing via the NVBots Dashboard and you will be able to view a timelapse video of your print jobs which is generated once the job completes printing.

What do each of the NVPro settings do?

Using the 3D Printing Service makes it easy to print with standard settings.  If you need to tweak something, you can make adjustments with basic and advanced settings.  The Getting Started with 3D Printing guide from NVBots goes through each setting.

Why do all jobs print with a raft?

A raft is a sacrifical layer of a 3D print that is used to help keep the part attached to the build plate while it is being printed.  All of the jobs printed through this our 3D Printing Service print with a raft that you will need to remove afterwards because it is required for the automated print removal system in the printers.  We deduct 30 minutes from the print time before you are charged to account for this.  We recommend wearing cow hide gloves and using a sharp putty knife to remove the raft if it does not come off easily.

Other questions?

If you did not find the answer to your question about the 3D Print Service above, please email it to email 3d-print-srvc@mit.edu.