CAD and Filetypes


We recommend using Solidworks or Autodesk Inventor for 3d design.

Solidworks is supported by the College of Engineering and can be obtained from the UIC webstore

Autodesk Inventor is a similar program which can be obtained free from Autodesk with a student account here

Both of the aforementioned CAD programs are Windows only. If you have a Mac you’ll need emulation software such as Bootcamp or Parallels to run them. Another option for Mac users is a free online tool called Onshape. This is a cloud-based CAD app – pay special attention to the restrictions on free accounts as created documents are publicly available.

Please note that other software may be suitable but the Makerspace staff will not be able to help you with them.


3D printing

For 3d printing on any of our machines we need STL files. These files should be saved from your CAD program with the Fine resolution and millimeters as the units.

STL files need to be single closed meshes that do not self-intersect. STL files generated from Solidworks/Inventor are (nearly) always fine. If you export from other software please be aware that the STL file format does not guarantee printability and any mesh repair is the responsibility of the user. We will not print damaged or unprintable files if we believe they constitute a risk to our machines.


Laser cutting

The laser requires vector information to cut out shapes. From CAD programs this is done by right click on a face that you want cut and going to Export Face as DXF. This will walk you through the steps of creating a DXF. Do not create an engineering drawing with projected faces as this creates an enormous amount of extra geometry that must be manually cleaned up.

You can also directly draw 2d shapes to be cut in a 2d Design program of your choice. AutoCAD or Adobe Illustrator work well.

In the Makerspace we use CorelDRAW to prepare files for the laser. There is wide compatibility with CAD formats with one major exception: Inventor 2018 by default exports 2018 DXF files which crash CorelDRAW.


CNC Milling

Bring your CAD files in either Solidworks or CorelDRAW formats. See CNC machine specific pages for more information on what can be cut. Our staff will use Inventor + HSMworks to generate tool paths.


PCB milling

Use EagleCAD for your PCB design. Our milling software can directly work with .brd files from Eagle (obtained from Autodesk). Other software may with by exporting Gerber files but we can’t help troubleshoot issues. See the Bantam Tools Othermill Pro page for more information on milling capabilities.


Vinyl cutting and large format printing

The vinyl cutter uses vector information. DXF of SVG files work best.
The large-format printer is controlled with CorelDRAW and can take many file types. Vector graphics work best but any image format 600 DPI or above works well too.

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