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3D Printing

About Our 3D Printers

3D Printer Build Plate Parameters

Each branch's build plate volume is expressed as Length x Width x Height. These are the maximum possible dimensions but some print settings required for a given print may reduce the potential size.

Centreville Regional Library
279 mm (11 in) x 279 mm (11 in) x 249 mm (9.8 in)

Kingstowne Library
170mm (6.7 inches) x 160mm (6.3 inches) x 145mm (5.7 inches)

Oakton Library
170mm (6.7 inches) x 160mm (6.3 inches) x 145mm (5.7 inches)

Pohick Regional Library
170mm (6.7 inches) x 160mm (6.3 inches) x 145mm (5.7 inches)

Reston Regional Library
169 mm (6.6 in) x 153 mm (6 in) x 144 mm (5.6 in)

Richard Byrd Library
170mm (6.7 inches) x 160mm (6.3 inches) x 145mm (5.7 inches)

Sherwood Regional Library
295 mm (11.6 in) x 195 mm (7.6 in) x 165 mm (6.5 in)

Thomas Jefferson Library
168mm (6.6 inches) x 157mm (6.2 inches) x 145mm (5.7 inches)

Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library
169 mm (6.6 in) x 153 mm (6 in) x 144 mm (5.6 in)

Woodrow Wilson Library
170mm (6.7 inches) x 160mm (6.3 inches) x 145mm (5.7 inches)

What Kind of Filament and What Colors Are Available

At this time FCPL uses only polylactic acid (PLA) filament in our printers. This article gives a useful overview of the basic properties of PLA filament and its uses. We do not recommend using 3D printed parts from FCPL in environments with high temperatures, chemical solvents, cooking, or being subjected to torque or stress.

Colors are limited by what each branch orders - we mostly order basic colors and availability varies at any given time.  While you can add a color preference to the note field of the submission page if you're interested in printing only in a specific color please call your local branch to see if that color is available.

  • Centreville: 703-830-2223
  • Kingstowne: 703-339-4610
  • Oakton: 703-242-4020
  • Pohick: 703-644-7333
  • Reston: 703-689-2700
  • Richard Byrd: 703-451-8055
  • Sherwood: 703-765-3645
  • Thomas Jefferson: 703-573-1060
  • Tysons Pimmit: 703-790-8088
  • Woodrow Wilson: 703-820-8774

What Kind of Files Will Print Successfully?

Fairfax County Public Library branches use fused deposition modeling (FDM) style 3D printers. This means plastic filament is fed into a heated nozzle which moves back and forth depositing layers of plastic on top of one another. This style of printer generally prints better when an object is bigger along the bottom and gets smaller at the top (like a pyramid).

Very complex shapes with wings, teeth, horns, antennae, or tiny details which protrude from the sides may not print exactly how you see them on your computer screen. Take these two velociraptors for example:

This raptor uploaded by the user "Alsamen" at www.thingiverse.com is very simple and was designed to be printed on our style of printer. His body is wider at the bottom to bond firmly to the build plate and his details taper off as he gets taller. This kind of file will print very easily!

Image of 3d designImage of 3d print

 

This more realistic raptor uploaded by user "Mmel" at Thingiverse.com has more complex skin, teeth, eyes, and limbs. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4344610  His feet are very small and his body gets heavier and more complex at the top. This kind of model with skinnier parts that bond to the build plate and details hanging out in space will have much more difficulty printing successfully on an FDM printer. When necessary we let the printer create "supports" -extra material to act as scaffolding and hold a model up during printing - but removing these can be tricky and result in a loss of detail.

Image of 3d designImage of 3d print

Even trying to carefully remove those supports both his arm and leg snapped off. Also his teeth and tongue did not finish with the same detail you see in the preview picture.

Image of 3d print Image of 3d print

Other types of 3D printers work differently and can better handle highly detailed models like this one. FCPL may one day invest in those types of printers but until then choosing or making simpler shapes will help you get a more successful print.

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