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3D Printing @ LaGuardia Community College Library Media Resources Center: FAQ

A guide to 3D printing and related instructional technology resources offered via the CUNY LaGuardia Community College Library, Media Services.


  • What is 3D printing? 

‚Äč3D printing refers to rapid prototyping - creating a physical 3-dimensional object from a digital model. There are several types of 3D printers. The printer that we use is the MakerBot Replicator 2x which performs a Fused Filament Fabrication technique (also known as Fused Deposition Modeling - FDM) to create the final 3d printed object. In this method, a lightweight plastic filament that when fed through the nozzle is heated up to its melting point and then extruded onto a build plate surface, hardening upon impact. This process continues, depositing the melted filament layer by layer until a 3-dimensional object is formed.

  • What are some examples of practical uses for 3D printing?

3D prints can be found useful in numerous applications, such as prototypes for entrepreneurs, architectural models for class projects and for any other low-volume, custom-prototype needs. Here are some examples of practice use in an educational environment:

  • Architecture - printing their 3D models to further enhance their understanding of structures
  • Fine arts - creating 3D objects from their digital designs; incorporating 3D prints into their other mediums; designing and 3D printing jewelry, sculptures, etc.
  • Visual communication design - creating prototypes of product designs and packaging
  • 3D animation - creating 3D printed objects from their designs
  • Engineering - creating 3D prototypes of their designs in order to fully understand their engineering design principles and to experience the challenges that are encountered along the way
  • Advertising / marketing / business / entrepreneurs - having a 3D prototype of the item that they are selling, to show their clients
  • Nursing / medicine - creating 3D replicas of anatomy
  • Archaeology / paleontology - creating 3D replicas of fragile relics for study (ex. creating replicas of fossils in order to study their movement, etc.)
  • Forensics - incorporating 3D printing into crime scene investigation (ex. creating 3D replicas of evidence, such as footprints, or skeletal remains and facial reconstruction)
  • Chemistry / physics / biology - creating accurate 3D visual aids such as DNA or chemical reactions


  • How large of an object can you print?

The maximum build volume for the Makerbot Replicator 2 according to Makerbot is  11.2 L x 6.0 W
 x 6.1 H in(12.75 in diagonal).

However, due to potential issues that we may encounter with our build plates (heat distribution, leveling, etc.) we generally resort to a smaller maximum, depending on the design. So please be aware that we may ask to print your model at a smaller scale than you would like. We do this with the goal of ensuring the best success of your print. With creative design, though, you can print larger simply by separating your model into smaller printable pieces. So keep that in mind as you prepare your file for printing.

  • Who can use the 3D printing service?

The 3D printing lab will be open to all LaGuardia Community College students and faculty/staff in all disciplines by scheduled appointment, Please discuss the assignment with us beforehand so that we can review our policies with you and discuss any limitations that you may have in printing.

  • What type of 3D modeling program should I use to create a printable design?

We do not have any limitations in the modeling software that you use, but the Replicator 2 prints from X3G files. You can use programs such as MakerWare to convert and work with these files.

[Citation for most of the FAQ text above: Kent State University Libraries. "3D Printing at the SMS." LibGuide. 23 Oct. 2014. 

For the full specifications on our 3D printers, visit their official websites:

Library Media Resources Center
LaGuardia Community College
31-10 Thomson Avenue, room E101
Long Island City, NY 11101
Email the Library