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Creating at Cline Library

Your complete how-to guide for enjoying the Cline Library's MakerLab and multimedia Studios.

Self-Service 3D Printing

MakerLab MakerBot Replicator v5 3D printerThe Cline Library MakerLab offers two self-service 3D printers for any advanced users wishing to explore the potential of our 3D printing technologies. These self-service 3D printers are free to use and are available to all NAU/CCC students, staff, and faculty - as well as any Flagstaff area community members - during MakerLab hours. Please note that users must provide their own 3D printing filament (1.75mm PLA) in order to use this service. 

For more information about the capabilities of our two MakerBot Replicator v5 self-service 3D printers, please read the printing specifications section below. Ready to start 3D printing? Use the guide below to learn more about how to prepare, process, and print your 3D model using the MakerLab's self-service 3D printers. 

This page will help you:

  1. Prepare your model.
  2. Print your model.
  3. Troubleshoot errors.

Printing Specifications

PMakerBot Replicator v5rinter Model

The MakerLab has two MakerBot Replicator v5 FDM printers available for self-service 3D printing on a first-come, first-served basis.


3D printing filament is not provided for the MakerLab's self-service 3D printing - users will need to provide their own material. The self-service printers are compatible with 1.75mm rolls of PLA (Polylactic Acid) 3D printing filament. Please note that unless you purchase MakerBot brand filament you will need to re-roll your filament on one of our MakerBot-compatible filament spools. Spools and rolling tools are available.

Model Dimensions

The maximum print size that the MakerLab's self-service 3D printers can accommodate is 9.92" x 7.83" x 5.9”. 


For 3D printing, resolution is measured by the thickness of the layers being printed. Thinner layers will result in cleaner and more precise final models. When 3D printing using the MakerLab our recommended resolution is 0.2 mm with a maximum resolution of 0.1 mm.

Density (Infill)

For 3D printing, the density of your model is determined by the infill percentage. When 3D printing using the MakerLab our recommended infill percentage is 10%, however this can be increased up to 95%

Print Time

The time required to print a 3D model varies widely and depends on the size and complexity of the design, as well as your requested print settings such as resolution and infill. Users must monitor their 3D prints when using the library's self-service printers. Self-service 3D printing is not available when the Cline Library is closed. 

Print Cost

The MakerLab does not charge for the use of our two self-service 3D printers. Please note that you must provide your own filament material.

Software Needed

In order to properly process and print your 3D model you will need to use the MakerBot Print software interface. MakerBot Print can be downloaded for free.

Preparing Your Model

Once you have your completed 3D model design in .stl format, the next step is to prepare your file for 3D printing. MakerBot Print is a software program used by MakerBot printers that processes a 3D model file by "slicing" it into 2D layers. Follow these steps to slice your model using MakerBot Print:

Step 1: Load Your Model in MakerBot Print

  1. Download MakerBot Print and open it on your computer.
  2. In the bottom right corner of the screen select "Add a Printer" and then choose "Add an Unconnected Printer."
  3. Select "Replicator 5th Gen" from the list of printers. 
  4. Next, from the top left corner of the screen, open the “Project Panel” and select the “Add Model” button. 
  5. Navigate to your 3D model file and click “Open.” You can also drag and drop an .stl file into the MakerBot Print interface.
  6. Once the model has loaded in MakerBot Print it will appear on the work plane.

Step 2: Inspect Your Model

  1. Look for any unprintably thin areas or large holes in the model.
  2. Check to make sure the model's scale seem reasonable. Adjust the model size as necessary.
    • If the file is too large or oriented incorrectly you will be prompted to either scale to fit or leave as is. Do Not Scale To Fit.
    • If the default size is incorrect, enter the desired dimensions of your model (X, Y, Z).
    • Note that MakerBot Print works in mm, so you may need to adjust if you created the model in inches.

Step 3: Arrange Model(s)

  1. Arrange the model on the work plane as efficiently as possible. To automatically arrange the model, select “Arrange” from the right-hand sidebar and click “Arrange Build Plate.” Manual adjustment may be needed; your goal is to reduce support material and reduce bridging (distance between two points with no support material).
  2. "Place face on Build Plate" is the easiest option here; simply select the "face" you want as the base and MakerBot Print will adjust the model accordingly.
  3. Consider the following when orienting your print manually:
    • Does the print need the filament to be drawn in a certain direction? This affects bridging, the strength of the print, and waterproofing. Note that visible layer striations will appear from the base to the top.
    • Does the print need supports? Supports are required on large overhangs and features more than 50˚ from the vertical.
    • Prints with complicated designs like spirals and honeycomb-like features will often print more cleanly without support
    • It’s always best to avoid supports where possible; this helps your model print faster and reduce the time it takes to remove supports. Avoid supports on intricate surfaces, and for internal portions that would make the supports difficult to remove.

Step 4: Adjust Print Settings

  1. Select the Gear icon from the right-hand menu to verify the print settings for your model.
  2. Set the Infill (density)  to 10% and the Layer Height (resolution) to 0.2 mm.
  3. Determine if you need supports:
    • Supports are not always required; this depends on the model’s design.
    • Supports will automatically print as long as "Support Type" is set to "Breakaway Supports."
    • Reduce the amount of support material when possible.
    • More support = more opportunities for breakage.
    • If the print is not printing even with supports, you can change the support angle and density to avoid drooping.
  4. Never remove rafting – it will appear automatically and is necessary for printing.

Step 5: Print Preview and Export

  1. Once you have arranged and prepped your model, click on "Estimates and Print Preview" from the right-hand sidebar (clock icon).
  2. This will prepare your print and give you an estimate of how long the printing process will take.
  3. Once you are satisfied with the print time, click "Export" to export your print as a .makerbot file.

Printing Your Model

Step 1: Loading Your Printing Material

  1. Use the control panel dial to select Filament > Load Filament.
  2. Wait for the extruder to heat.
  3. Cut the end of your filament to create a clean edge.
  4. Grasp the top of the extruder and push the filament into the extruder's loading tube until you can feel the motor pulling the filament in.
  5. Wait until you see plastic emerging from the extruder nozzle before pressing the control panel dial to finish the filament load process.
  6. Fit the filament guide tube securely into the extruder's loading tube.

Step 2: Printing Your Model

  1. Once your 3D model is sliced as a .makerbot file, save the file to a flash drive.
  2. Insert the flash drive into the USB port on the front of the printer.
  3. Use the scroll wheel to navigate to "Print" on the printer's display screen. Click the wheel to select.
  4. Navigate to "USB Storage" and click the wheel to select.
  5. Locate your .makerbot file and select it.
  6. The 3D printer will take a few minutes to calibrate and begin the heating process. Once this process is complete it will begin printing your model.

Step 3: Harvesting Your Print

  1. Once your 3D model is complete, pull the build plate tray out of the printer; it should slide out easily with no force required.
  2. Use a uniscraper or other tool to fully remove the model and purge line from the build plate. If a model is particularly difficult to remove from the printer, you may use a dental pick or razor, but be careful to not damage the model or build plate.
  3. Once the model is off the plate, place the tray back into the printer making sure it fully locks into place within the printer; shake the build plate to confirm it is stable.
  4. Remove any supports or rafts using the tools provided.

Step 4: Unloading Your Material

  1. Use the control panel dial to select Filament > Unload Filament.
  2. Wait for the extruder to heat.
  3. Remove the filament from the extruder only when prompted by the control panel.


Common 3D Printing Failures

  • Loss of adhesion to build plate
  • Warping or curling of the print
  • Poor build plate condition
  • No supports on overhangs
  • Filament slip & filament jam

If a 3D print job fails, do the following:

  • Determine the cause of failure; if the failure is due to hardware or other library-related causes, correct the issue or choose another printer and restart the print immediately.
  • Determine the cause of failure; if the failure is due to a design flaw, contact the user and recommend the appropriate corrective action (you may need to schedule a consultation).

Model Stuck to Build Plate

  • Occasionally a print may be difficult to remove from the build plate. This is often a result of the model’s shape or the way that the raft was adhered to the build plate.
  • Never use manual force or sharp objects (picks, scissors, etc.) to force a print off of the build plate; this can cause damage to the build plate as well as the print itself.
  • Instead, twist the build plate back and forth from multiple angles; don’t be afraid to use a little force, these build plates are fairly sturdy. In most cases this will loosen the print from the print bed and, in some cases, completely release it. If necessary, use a flat tool (like a uniscraper or flat head razor) to finish removing the print.
  • Once you have removed the model, clean off the build plate using rubbing alcohol.

Model Begins to Curl (warping)

  • This is a very common issue and is a result of poor adhesion to the build plate itself. Often this is caused by poor cleaning of the build plate, leftover debris (oil, dirt, dust, etc.), or extreme temperature variations.
  • The first solution to try is to clean the build plate with rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth. If the model continues to peel off the build plate, see the instructions for “Warping and Curling.”

Warping and Curling

  • Warping occurs when print errors result in shrinking layers that cause errors in stable layers. This often causes major print failures or compromises structural integrity.
  • Curling happens when instead of lying flat and building layers properly, a print will curl upwards. This often causes major print failures or compromises structural integrity.
  • Thin and large rectangular objects often warp the worst as they have a large surface area over which issues can arise and don’t have tight rounded corners to help with adhesion.
  • To fix warping or curling, trying the following solutions:
    • Begin by trying to clean the build plate with rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth.
    • Performing a Z-axis Calibration on the printer in question may also help adhesion.
    • If the model is heavy enough this issue might resolve itself as the PLA may end up weighing down the print. Nevertheless, be sure to keep a close eye on the print and stop any warping/curling early to prevent wasting filament.
    • If the issue persists, try adding helper disks to the MakerBot Print (File > Insert Example Prints > All Printers) or increasing the Raft Margin to help stabilize the print and better adhere it to the print bed.
    • If a print continues to fail on the Replicator +s, you might try printing on a Z18 instead. The Z18s’ heated chamber can help prevent temperature warping.
    • For Z18 prints you may also wish to manipulate the cooling fan speed for the raft base; but keep in mind that this is an advanced solution and should be used as a last resort.

Layer Drift

  • Layer drift is characterized by an angular distortion in the layers of a print when individual layers are not printed directly above the preceding layers. For example, if you are printing a vertical tower, layer drift would cause this tower to appear crooked or skewed.
  • Layer drift is most common on prints that have ran out of filament and require a new roll to be loaded. The longer the print cools on the printer during this transition period, the more temperature differences may result in offset layers and layer drift.
  • Reprinting is often the only way to solve layer drift; this often requires reslicing.
  • Otherwise, if you notice an extruder knocking around parts and causing layer drift, decrease the velocity of the extruder.