3D Printing Overview

The Boston College Libraries provide basic support for creating 3D models that can be printed on a 3D printer maintained by ITS’ Help Desk staff. The 3D printer is a Makerbot Replicator+ that uses PLA filament which is made from biodegradable renewable resources.

3D printers work by heating up a thin thread of filament and extruding it onto a platform. The object is slowly built up, layer by layer, from the bottom to the top. Due to the slow building nature of the process, please expect multiple days of processing time before you receive your object. A more precise time estimate will be made after you submit your project. At this time, there is no fee for our 3D printing service.

3D Printing Policy

Please read the following policy prior to submitting your 3D print request. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the policy.

The library’s 3D printer may be used only for lawful purposes. To that end, users are not permitted to use our 3D printer to create material that is:

  • Prohibited by local, state, or federal law as well as Boston College and University Libraries’ policies.
  • Unsafe, harmful, dangerous, or poses an immediate threat to the well-being of others. (Such use may violate terms of use of the manufacturer.)
  • In violation of another’s intellectual property rights. For example, the printers will not be used to reproduce material that is subject to copyright, patent, or trademark protection.
  • Please note that the library reserves the right to not print any materials that are deemed inappropriate.

How to Submit a 3D Printing Job

  • Submit a 3D print Job by filling out this form. Once the form is submitted, a member of the team will follow up with you for a consultation. Priority is given to jobs that are academic or BC affiliated, though personal projects may also be submitted.
  • Your model should be submitted as an .STL file. 
  • If you have questions about our 3D printing service, please contact the team at 3dprinters@bc.edu

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where is the 3D printer/ can I watch the 3D printer in action?

A: Our 3D printer is currently kept in a separate location that is not accessible to the public due to ventilation requirements. We occasionally bring it into the Digital Studio for demonstrations or workshops, ask a staff member if there are any upcoming events.

Q: How much does it cost to print?

A: There is no fee for our printing services at this time.

Q: How long does the printer take to print a model?

A: It depends on your object’s size, fill, and whether or not it requires any troubleshooting. A 3D printing specialist will contact you for a consultation after your job has been submitted to give you a projected timeline. The average estimate for a print job completion is 3 business days.

Q: Does my 3D print job have to be academic?

A: No, our 3D print service also accepts personal projects. However, please note that academic print jobs will get priority in the queue over personal print jobs.