3D Printing

Through 3D printing our students learn important skills like 3D modeling, and explore the creative potential of technology. 

How does it work?

The Ultimaker2 3D Printer prints objects using plastic thread.  A small motor in the back of the machine feeds plastic thread into a tube which ends in the printing nozzle.  The printing nozzle is heated and melts the plastic thread as it passes through, allowing the printer to “lay” the plastic in small beads.  As soon as the melted plastic bead is laid, it cools and hardens.  The printer’s software, Cura, “slices” the into layers in which the beads are laid down, starting from the bottom of the object.

Who can print?

Any Prep student can use the 3D printer.

What to print?

McShain Library’s Ultimaker2 3D Printer is meant for student educational/recreational use. 3D designs that have already been printed range from a model of The Church of the Gesu, iPhone cases, and small mechanical pieces for a gyroscope machine. Studentscan either digitally model an object entirely on their own or adapt an existing file. All designs must comply with the Acceptable Use Policy for Technology as laid out on page 15 of the Student Handbook, as well as all applicable copyright and intellectual property laws.

How do I get started?

Download 3D modeling software like Google Sketchup* from a credible 3D modeling website (www.thingiverse.com, www.tinkercad.com, www.makerbot.com are also recommended). 

*Google Sketchup cannot be downloaded onto Chromebooks, as Google does not have an app version of the software.  However, Google Sketchup is available on all libraryand PC Lab desktops.  To download Google Sketchup onto personal computers, click here. Be sure to download the free version. 

How to print?

  1. Create  or adapt a digital 3D model. The model must be saved as a .stl file. If a student is downloading a 3D model from a website, he must make sure to download the .stl file of the model. 

  2. Once the student has the .stl file, he can either bring it to Mrs. Nelson on a flash drive OR he can email the .stl to Mrs. Nelson at snelson@sjprep.org.

  3. Mrs. Nelson will upload the file to the computer at the printer via the printer’s software, Cura.  

  4. Mrs. Nelson and the student will note how long Cura predicts the model will take to print.  The student can then sign up for the next available time slot(s).

  5. The student will recieve an email from Mrs. Nelson when the print is complete.

When to print/How Long does a print normally take?

While all models are different, a fist-sized object typically takes approximately 8 hours to print. There are 4 time slots throughout the school day:

  1. 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

  2. 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

  3. 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

  4. 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

However, because print times vary so much from model to model, there are several different ways a student can pick time slot(s):

  1. A student can sign up for 1 or 2 time slots up to 2 days/week

  2. A student can sign up for 3 or 4 time slots 1 day/week

  3. A student can also sign up for any combination of the two previous options

Where can I find out more?

Here are some "walk through" tutorials from the AISD Middle School Tech Ed Teacher's Wiki
Please note: these tutorials will download onto your device. Once they have downloaded, simply open 
the files and walk through the exercises. 


Or click her for more Sketchup tutorials


Watch the video above to see a 3D printer in action.

St. Joseph's Preparatory School
1733 West Girard Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19130
tel: 215.978.1950
fax: 215.765.1710
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