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Division of Information Technology

IT Help Desk
Kansas State University
Hale Library
2nd floor
1117 Mid Campus Dr N
Manhattan KS 66506


3D Printing

3D printing is a method of using a digital file to develop a three dimensional solid object.

How does it work?

  1. To create a 3D object, start by scanning the object with a 3D printer or entering the specifications into CAD software.
  2. The data is sliced into two-dimensional horizontal layers used to reproduce the object.
  3. Each layer is then printed and stacked, one on top of another, and fused together to form the 3D object.


STL and OBJ are two common formats used for 3D imaging:

  • STL (stereolithography) – the native file format of stereolithography CAD software created by the inventors of 3D printing: 3D Systems; a three-dimensional shape representation (but without surface colors, textures, or other shape information).
  • OBJ – a standard image format used by various 3D image editing programs; a 3D object that contains information like texture maps, 3D coordinates and more.

There are many ways to print your own 3D product by using resources like Thingiverse and Autodesk’s Tinkercad application. Both house thousands of open-source printing files created by users that you can search for by subject, type, name, etc. They also allow users to contribute their own designs and share them with other users, creating a global environment and opportunity for 3D printer users.


  • PLA filament – a non-toxic resin made of field corn derived sugar that when heated has a semisweet smell, similar to that of waffles. Ultimaker PLA filament is an easy-to-use material good for those new to 3D printing.


  • Ultimaker S5 technology is a 3D printer option because of ease of use, quality, and reliability.
  • Powered by the new, user-friendly Ultimaker S5 3D Printing Platform.


Cost is $0.10 per gram of filament plus a $3.00/print usage fee. Total cost is determined once your print is complete. Charges are computed and confirmation is sent via email. Pay for and pick up prints from Equipment Checkout on the 2nd floor of the Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab.

5th generation MakerBot Replicator at the Media Studio

Environments for 3D Printing

This type of environment will allow students to produce models for prototyping, engineering, architecture, and various types of multimedia projects. 3D printing is not just the next wave of the future, it is the NOW and is currently being used all over the world. It alsoallows learners to visualize and use three-dimensional aids in the classroom environment, which in the past may have been a challenging concept to grasp. This environment also enhances a hands-on learning approach for tactual learners, meaning those who learn by doing.

Scientists are currently using 3D printing to reproduce human organs. Universities, colleges, and even K-12 schools are beginning to incorporate 3D printing as a way to encourage tactual learners. This type of element encourages the users to think about learning and problem solving in a different manner.