Who Can Use the Printing Services
Faculty and graduate students at Michigan Tech will have access to the 3D metal printer for research projects. Undergraduate students working on senior design projects and student-run Enterprise teams will, too.
The printer is available for use by those outside of Michigan Tech. Members of the research community at other institutions are encouraged to contact the lab to inquire about getting parts printed.
Fees and Quotes
To learn about fees, check the posted use rates. There is an hourly fee for the printer and mass cost for materials. Fees are the same for internal and external clients.
The machine printing time is part of the cost quote. It can be based on:
- A rough algorithm provided by the printer software
- Model dimensions, especially height
Material amount is the other part of the cost quote. This batch of tensile and fatigue round samples (left) took 24 hours of machine time to print. The samples are four inches in height.
If you would like to request a custom material (not shown in use rates), consult with the staff. You will need to supply the powder with a volume based on project scope and size. Your request may also lead to an interruption in the material calendar, which the staff may need to negotiate with other clients. There may also be a required license purchase for the powder.
Only designated facility staff can operate the printer.
You will need a 3D model in one of the following formats: CAD or PART file (CAD, AP203/214 STEP, .STL, SOLIDWORKS .SLDPRT, Siemens NX .PRT, Autodesk Inventor .IPT) Follow best practices to create the most viable model for 3D printing. A good model will also minimize print time.
Submitting a Print Request
Work on best practices for model design to be sure your 3D model is ready when the printer is available. Consult with staff as needed.
The project timeline will be a function of consultation iterations, instrument status, the metal material calendar, and staff time. The project ends when the client is notified to pick up their part and when the accounting is settled.
Entering the Printing Center
People can visit by request under supervision. Adhere to any safety postings.
Choosing to Print Metal in 3D
Additive manufacturing may not be the optimum choice for manufacturing a part. Check the orientation page to find comparisons between methods, such as additive/subtractive manufacturing, welding, casting, extrusion, and many more.
Post-processing or Characterization
These services are not part of the facility, but Michigan Tech has many resources for further processing of the part or analysis of its structure.
After the part is printed, these are the most likely tasks:
- Remove the powder
- Remove some supports
- Remove the part from the plate, if easy enough (such as hammer and chisel)
- Turn the part over to the client
- Apply any heat treatment or machining
- Remove from baseplate if machining, wire EDM, or a band saw is required
- Finish removing supports
- Apply any finishing, such as sand blasting, milling, or polishing
- Ultrasonic clean the part for their use