Advanced Output Center Frequently Asked Questions
The laser cutter is a computer controlled 2½-axis cutting device. It uses a laser (a finely focused beam of light) to burn into flat sheet materials. The laser cutter can make both engravings and through-cuts. Cuts are controlled by a computer file set up in Illustrator, much the same way a plotter works.
You should use the laser cutter to make intricate or variable cuts that are impossible or very difficult on traditional shop or hand-cutting equipment.
The laser cutters at the AOC are available to currently enrolled students, active faculty and staff at SAIC. All users must complete a certification prior to using the laser cutter.
Maybe. New materials can be added to the Approved Materials List if they are safe to cut. To determine a material’s safety factors, you must submit an SDS sheet for the material along with this form to the Advanced Output Center. Requests are usually processed in 1-2 weeks.
Please note that SDS are very specific to each product, as different manufacturers can use different ingredients/processes to make the same or similar products. To speed up the evaluation process, please make sure SDS are obtained from the manufacturer of the product in question.
3D printing is a fabrication technique that starts with a 3D computer model of an object, and ends with a physical prototype of that model. To make the prototype, a 3D printer slices the computer model into many thin horizontal sections, which are then extruded or cut into physical layers, and either re-assembled or laid down on top of each other.
Turnaround time varies greatly depending on size and shape of model, color choice and queue length. Small pieces can take less than a day, while large runs can take a week or more. Check with a lab manager for an estimate.
Since 3D printing is a technician-run service, the printer cannot be reserved; jobs are processed by a technician in the order they are received. New jobs are added to the queue when they have been properly submitted with a valid file and completed order form (Available here).
The printing volume of the F370 printer is 14″x10″x14″. The printing volume of the Objet printer is 11.81″x7.87″x5.9″. The Formlabs volume is 5.7″x5.7″x6.9″. Anything smaller than those dimensions will be able to print in a single run. Larger items can sometimes be modeled and exported as smaller sections, printed in sections and re-assembled.
The thinnest wall thickness of your model should be no less than 0.04″ (1mm). This will help maintain the structural integrity of the printed piece. For design guidelines regarding model detail, please see the 3D Printing Guide.
The F370 prints using ABS plastic, an opaque thermoformable material available in several colors. ABS is a relatively soft plastic, however it is durable enough to withstand handling and even to make some usable parts. The F370 also can print in ASA, a UV stable plastic, PC-ABS, ABS with PolyCarbonate for a stronger part, and TPU, which is a rubber material.
The Objet 30 prints using a UV-cured resin which is available in a clear material that simulates acrylic plastic.
The Formlabs has multiple materials available. An acrylic like plastic for white, gray, black, clear, and custom color prints, a semi-flexible rubber in dark grey, a white glass infused rigid material, a transparent white material to simulate polypropylene, and a light teal for abs like plastic.
These are the only materials available for 3D prints at the AOC, however there are many other types of 3D printers in existence which use other materials including casting sand, multi-color material, clear material and extremely durable material. Check out the Links page for references to other 3D printing services outside the AOC.
The 3D printers accept only solid STL files. STL is a general-puropose polygon file format, which can be exported from many different 3D modeling applications. A file that is ‘solid’ is a continuous surface with no open edges.
Certain applications, including Rhino, Rapidform and SolidWorks, have built-in tools that make it much easier to create solid models; other programs like Maya are not optimized for solid modeling and thus make it much more difficult to correctly prepare a file for 3D printing. For more information about solid modeling, please see the 3D Printer Guide.
The 3D scanners at the AOC are available to currently enrolled students, active faculty and staff at SAIC. All users must be certified to use the 3D scanners.
You can enroll in the 3D scanner Canvas course here.
The AOC’s large-format scanners are open to all currently enrolled students, faculty, staff and alumni at SAIC. Scanners are self-serve; there are no certifications required to use the large-format scanners. Yes, during Covid-19 Make Ready modifications, you will need to make an appointment to use the scanners. No walk-in service is allowed. All appointments must be booked in advance through Acuity.
The AOC has two large-format 2D scanners; a flatbed scanner and a roller scanner.
The flatbed scanner can scan any non-transparent media/object up to 12″x18″ and requires a laptop (Mac or PC) with scanning software to function. Images/objects to be scanned are placed face down on a glass plate.
The roller scanner scans flat paper media only and can accommodate sizes up to 42″ wide by almost any length; documents are fed through rollers over a scanning bed. Check out the Large-Format Scanning Guide for details.
Yes! There are many other scanners on campus, although most cannot accommodate larger media like the AOC’s can.
All the Canon copier/printers on campus have scan-to-email capabilities and are great for scanning documents. The General Access lab also has flatbed scanning stations which do not require a laptop, as well as slide/negative and drum scanning equipment. The Photo Department has a general-access copy stand for digitizing large objects which can’t fit into a roller scanner.