Introduction: How to Get a Great 3D Print From Instructables!

Picture of How to Get a Great 3D Print From Instructables!

You may have noticed here at Instructables we have been giving away a lot of 3D prints. It has been a lot of fun processing everyone's models through our printers, but it has become clear that we educate the community on how they can get the best print possible. The following steps will outline the criterion for getting the models of your dreams from's fleet of Objet Connex 500 printers.

This Instructable is intended as a resource for those receiving/winning 3D prints from Instructables.

Step 1: Software and Filetypes

Picture of Software and Filetypes

The Objet Connex printers are able to process .stl wireframe files. Many 3D software and CAD programs have an export functionality that will allow you to turn your .dwg file or .obj file into an .stl file.

When it comes to generating models, you have many options in the 3D modeling program you choose to use. Each program has its advantages and disadvantages that are specific to the types of models you may be making.

We have sucessfully processed files from:
3DS Max
123D Sculpt and 123D Catch

Step 2: Materials Available.

Picture of Materials Available.

The Objet family of resins is expansive. They are adding new UV-cured resins to their catalog constantly. We are currently printing with Objet's ABS-like material, VeroWhite, VeroClear, and TangoBlack.

The Vero suite of resins produces a very rigid, slightly brittle, solid model. The material is only brittle if the print wall is too thin. To avoid this problem, be sure that your model has walls that are at least 2mm thick. If you are designing objects with thin tendrils, or unsupported corners, the pure VeroWhite or VeroClear materials may not be the right choice.

The Tango suite of resins is incredibly flexible. It is like 3D printing with rubber. This material is very strong and will flex and bend. Even thin-walls and unsupported corners will withstand force. However, the material is not very rigid.

Step 3: Digital Materials

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This brings me to Digital Materials. Objet's system of polyjet-matrix printing allows the printer to mix materials as it prints. This means you can have a partially rigid plastic/partially flexible rubber print.

This also means that you can make models that are assemblies - with each component of the assembly being different composite material. The Objet Connex printers are able to print to tolerances of .2mm before fusing the model, so if you are making an assembly with moving components, please allow .2mm of space between your parts.

Step 4: The Print Process

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After the model files have been loaded into the printer, the printer begins the job, or batch. These high-resolution prints can sometimes take up to 80 hours depending on the complexity and size of the models. (Please be patient while waiting for you Instructables print, as they do take time.)

After the printer is done with its batch of models, they are pulled from the tray, and washed.

When the Objet printer is growing models, it is simultaneously adding support material and resins. When the model is complete, the support material needs to be pressure washed off. This step in the process is the most volatile. Models that are too thin, or that have inflexible joints are often blown to pieces in the washer. Also, removing support material is often difficult. If a model has a whole lot of detail, often the person washing the model has to go in with a set of dental tools, and pick out material from the print. If you are afraid of someone breaking a print, you can opt to clean the support material off yourself, and we will send you a model that is encased in support medium.

Delicacy of models is often solved by changing model material, or changing the scale of the model.

Step 5: Examples of Prints

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One of the coolest things that these printers are capable of is generating super complex geometric models, and creating moving assemblies within the print. Click through the above photos and scroll over the embedded notes to get a greater understanding of what makes an excellent print.

Step 6: Specialty Uses and Materials.

Picture of Specialty Uses and Materials.

These printers are EXTREMELY powerful, and capable of making some incredible prototypes. Even molds! Instructables is willing to work with our authors to make sure they get the print they are after. If you are seeking to make a mold, you may use the ABS-like material to withstand the temperatures of low-temperature mold-making.

If you are wanting to make things like tires, or wanting to integrate two different kind of materials into one model, you can! By creating an assembly with a tight tolerance (smaller than .2mm), you are able to designate a specific material blends to each component of your print. The TangoBlack rubber resin has a very low Shore durometer, so the darker the print is, the more rubbery it is. We combine these low durometer materials with more rigid combinations of resins to create advance prototypes that will withstand all kinds of testing.


iSuat (author)2015-10-21

Can you share the Instructables robot stl file?

onitreb (author)2013-06-08

Is this service still available? I can't find anything on about requesting print services! wth? Update this thing if it's not available.

audreyobscura (author)onitreb2013-06-08

Hey there, I have made an edit. We often give-away models as prizes, and this is meant to be a go-to resources for people who win models.

Keep an eye out for contests where we offer those as prizes :)

community manager

emilyvanleemput (author)2012-12-07

can you print from google sketchup?

see my tutorial on exporting from sketchup to blender, once the model is in blender it can be exported as a .stl in only 3 or so clicks.

mkahata (author)2012-11-08

hi. i have 6 object stl files on my instructables page. UnitPartsOnly6-NS2.stl contained all 6 object in one file. size is bigger than your limitation, mean i can not make 3D print ?

juanjomf (author)2012-10-28

hello. where I can buy, or get an easy and economical 3D printer?

Siddharth Jain (author)2012-10-22

I am given one free 3-D print today.... :D :D :D
I've entered the shipping details already, but have not sent the files....

So, will I now be given the Instructables Robot or will you people wait for me send in the files..(cause I've already entered the shipping details!)????......

bwrussell (author)Siddharth Jain2012-10-26

Nope, you have two months to send the files. They won't send anything until you tell them what to make.

Siddharth Jain (author)bwrussell2012-10-27

Yeah!..audreyobscura told me that!!!... 
But Thanks!!!... :D

Maundy (author)2012-10-13

If I am awarded three 3x3x3 inch free 3D prints could I combine this to make one 6x6x3 inch 3D print?

audreyobscura (author)Maundy2012-10-17

We will have to review stuff like this case-by-case.

Avatar_I_Am (author)2012-10-14

Uh... got confused trying to read through sooo many replies and questions, so here's mine:
What if I already have an STP/STL file of something I designed on paper and had a rocket science take that an make the files for me?
I had no way [my capability] to do the math involved, amnd my computer is fair old and slow to try to run those programs.
Can I still send you the files and get a 3D model made?

009agent (author)2012-09-24

Are there any 3D Printer models that are capable of printing with chocolate?

chaitanyak (author)009agent2012-09-30

you can print molds that you can pour molten chocolate into.

audreyobscura (author)009agent2012-09-24

Not at our facility.

does anyone offer 3d printing of skp(sketchup) or obj or 3ds files for no cost at all. the model would be quite detailed so as large a print as possible is best and the model is not "watertight" but i could change it if the service is unable to automatically thicken all surfaces to some reasonable volume without disrupting the shape of the model. colour might be nice but is not really important, metal would be a good material as it is hard and will not break easily. thanks.

darman12 (author)2012-09-14

I am not too good with modeling, and I do not have a good enough computer to run the appropriate software efficiently anyway (even Google Sketchup)... I am going to download something from Thingiverse, are you expecting it to be scaled or can you scale it when you receive the .stl?

audreyobscura (author)darman122012-09-22

we will scale all models.

darman12 (author)audreyobscura2012-09-22

Thanks :)

willq44 (author)2012-09-22

my 3d model is just .2 inch out of the box in length and height but a good with i was wondering if it would be okay or if i had to fix it

audreyobscura (author)willq442012-09-22

we will evaluate that once we receive your .stl file. what are you making with such a tight tolerance?

bwrussell (author)2012-09-14

Are multiple, unconnected, pieces allowed as long as they fit in the 3x3 envelope and and the model is reasonably designed (no stacking so it's not just a solid block of support material encasing several parts).

audreyobscura (author)bwrussell2012-09-14


bwrussell (author)audreyobscura2012-09-18

Follow up, albeit unrelated, when we recieve the message are we supposed to submit our shipping info right away or should we wait until the model is sent?
Thanks for your help.

audreyobscura (author)bwrussell2012-09-22

Any information you can provide to us is helpful, I would send your address information.

Bobmonkey07 (author)2012-08-30

1, I'm not too good at 3d modeling software. is there a catalog of prints to choose from, or someone to contact with an idea for a model?

2, how easy is it to paint these?

bwrussell (author)Bobmonkey072012-09-14

Check out Thingiverse.

Nirzaree (author)2012-09-10

Are the prints shipped for free?

Someone say 'Yes'... Please....

audreyobscura (author)Nirzaree2012-09-10


Nirzaree (author)audreyobscura2012-09-11

<3 :D

___ (author)2012-08-23

How do we specify what parts of the model we want in what material?

audreyobscura (author)___2012-09-10

with very detailed email instructions.

___ (author)2012-08-24

Also are you printing in Tango Full Cure970 or 980/930?

audreyobscura (author)___2012-09-10

both! depends on the machine, and what we have in stock.

William930 (author)2012-09-03

Just curious, how detailed can the models be? are there any photos of detailed 3d prints with something to show scale?

audreyobscura (author)William9302012-09-10

each layer of materials is laid down 16 microns from the previous layer of material on the print.

papercrafter408 (author)2012-09-03

does google sketchup work?

mpilchfamily (author)2012-08-21

When can we expect to get our 3D prints from past contests? Its been over 2 months since the Make it Real Challenge ended. That was the first contest these 3D prints where offered to those who entered an instructable, it was accepted into the challenge and was featured. When can we expect to see those prints and what is the expected lead time on any print won through this offer?

mushroom glue (author)2012-08-21

Two things; What happens regarding postage? can it be posted to the UK?
and; I've just posted an instructable. can I use this to get a print?
Thanks in advance.

trassa787 (author)2012-07-18

like android roller Yahh !

Tomdf (author)2012-07-06

Oh, another question, what about density. If for some reason I wanted a solid 3x3x3 cube (for my squandered resource collection,) how upset would the person running the printer get?

audreyobscura (author)Tomdf2012-07-06

c'mon, you can do better than that! give us some complex geometries! mobius nets, and articulated mechanisms!

Tomdf (author)audreyobscura2012-07-07

Ok, will do, ty!
Now, say I do design some kind of multi-component articulated transformer thing. Should I connect the pieces somehow so they don't get seperated and mixed up?

That would be vary upset.

U_eriksen (author)2012-07-07

Not to bea all negative and stuff (I think it's great that you offer free plots for people), but to me this whole 'instructable' sounds more like a poorly masked commercial for the Objet printer than an actual attempt to teach people anything. Or maybe the initial phases of starting up the next Shapeways.

Am I completely wrong here?

audreyobscura (author)U_eriksen2012-07-07

I understand why you may think that, but we are really trying to do good for the community. The Objet printers are the printers we are using, and we want to make sure that everyone in the Instructables community gets the best model possible. By no means are we starting the next shapeways. In an effort to perpetuate maker culture, and exploration, we are making these powerful modeling tools available to the public.

Zaphod Beetlebrox (author)2012-07-06

If you win a 3d print do you get to choose the material?

The short answer: yes. The long answer: If you select a material that someone at Instructables does not think is well suited for your model, we will work with you to get the right material for your model.

Ok cool, I didn't know that for the print that I won. But I think you guys would have chosen the right one.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an Instructables success story! After relying on the site to DIY my way through art school, I was able to join the Instructables ... More »
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