3D Printing

A quick summary of 3D printing using the resources at UCLA


This is a quick guide to 3D printing in general and on how to use the resources UCLA provides to print your models.


This tutorial assumes basic SOLIDWORKS skills.

Preparing to 3D Print

Finalizing Your SOLIDWORKS Model

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After completing your SOLIDWORKS model, ensure that no floating or disconnected pieces remain in the part or assembly file. Then, try to minimize the amount of supports to be printed onto your part. Supports keep the the model from caving and warping, while allowing portions not connected to the printer bed to be printed. Supports are only necessary, however, for angles greater than 45 degrees. For example, the above model contains an overhang with a 45 degree overhang and would therefore not need supports to print. Lastly, try to round off as many edges as possible to avoid warping of corners.

Exporting From SOLIDWORKS as a .stl File


With your model finished, you'll need to export it as a .stl file. To do this click "File>Save As" then select ".stl" as the file type.

Most printers have a print quality setting which alters the speed and strength of the print. The names of these settings vary from printer to printer but are usually self-explanatory.

Infill Pattern and Density

Infill pattern also varies from printer to printer. The common ones include "hollow", "diamond", and "min fill". "Hollow" is good for prototypes or weaker parts. "Diamond" is typically the most structurally sound. "Min fill" is a middle ground betwee the two. The density of the infill can also be changed, with 10-20% being the recommended setting.


Rafts are flat pieces of plastic printed direcly below your model. These help the first layer of your print remain stable as more layers are added on top. They are not necessary and can be disabled. Some printers use a heated print bed to eliminate the need for rafts all together.

Printing at UCLA

Using the LUX Lab

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The UCLA LUX Lab offers free printing for all approved club and team prints. Unfortunately, they do not accept personal projects. To print using the LUX Lab, sign in or make an account on their webpage. Then, select "3D Printing" and fill out all fields on the form. Make sure to specify "UAS@UCLA" as the club and "Jeff Eldredge" under Professor Name. Additionally, specify any desired print settings, such as infill density or pattern, in the "Project Description" field. That's it! They'll email you when your print is complete so you can come in to pick it up.

Using the Rieber Hall Maker Space

The Rieber Hall Maker Space offers free printing for both club prints and personal projects. Just walk in with the .stl file easily accessible, swipe your Bruin Card on the way in, and ask someone there for help printing. They'll direct you to a computer in the Maker Space to define your print settings and complete a form. The Maker Space will then email you when your print is ready to be picked up.