A Brief Introduction to 3D Printing

Jonathan Byrne

Natural Computing Research and Applications Group

University College Dublin


How do you print three dimensional objects?

  1. Print a two dimensional object
  2. Repeat step 1

Stereolithography file (STL)



How do you actually print it?

  • Stereolithography (photo polymer)
  • Selective Laser Sintering (powder bed and lasers)
  • Plaster-based 3D printing (powder bed and inkjet)
  • Laminated object manufacturing (paper, foil, plastic film )
  • Fused Deposition Modelling (extrusion)

Fused Deposition Modelling

The Axes

FDM Printer Components

  • Frame
  • 4 Motors
  • 3 endstops (switches)
  • Extruder Head
  • Electronics

The Ultimaker

X-Y Axis and Extruder


What you will need:

  • Hex Keys / Allen Keys (1.5mm, 2.0mm)
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Pliers
  • Cordless Screw Driver
  • WD 40
  • Masking Tape
  • Sand Paper / File


  • Be patient and RTFM
  • Read the comments in the instructions
  • Look at the built model
  • When in doubt, talk to the other team
  • Keep the components separate
  • Take extra care with the linear bearings
  • If the regular bearings dont fit, freeze them

Linear Bearing

Regular Bearing

Build Instructions

  1. Frame: 60-90 minutes
  2. X-Y Axes: 50-80 minutes (hard!)
  3. Z Stage: 60-90 minutes
  4. Extrusion Head: 60-90 minutes (fiddly)
  5. Material Feed Mechanism: 30-40 minutes
  6. Electonics: 30-60 minutes

Some final notes

  • The ultimaker uses ABS (LEGO plastic) or PLA, use PLA
  • Downloadable examples at thingiverse (www.thingiverse.com)
  • Every model can be converted to STL
  • It may be an STL but it may not be printable


Thin Walls

Twisted Planes



  • Build instructions: wiki.ultimaker.com/Mechanics_build_guide
  • Presentation: www.jonathan-byrne.com/3dprintingintro