3D Design software
We recommend using Solidworks, Autodesk Inventor, or OnShape for mechanical designs.
- Solidworks is free from the UIC webstore.
- Autodesk Inventor can be obtained with a student license directly from Autodesk.
- OnShape is accessed through the cloud. There is a free education version available.
Other software can work but we do not officially support their use in the Makerspace and staff may not be able to provide assistance. Contact us with questions or concerns.
For all types of 3D printing in the Makerspace we need .stl files. These files should be saved from your CAD program with a Fine Resolution Preset and millimeters as the units. Incorrect settings may lead to parts being printed out of scale or with very poor quality.
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.
We will not 3D print CAD files (.sldprt, .ipt, etc). Exporting to STL is the responsibility of the designer.
Printer build volumes:
- Dremel 3D40/45: 10″ x 6″ x 6.7″ (255 x 155 x 170 mm)
- Fusion3: 14″ x 14″ x 12″ (350 x 350 x 300 mm)
- Objet30: 11.8″ x 7.8″ x 5.9″ (300 x 200 x 150 mm)
Note: parts cannot extend to the edges of the build volume. There must be a ~0.5″ (13 mm) margin around the part. Not all parts can print in all orientations. We have other printers available for special cases and materials – consult with us to find out more.
The laser requires vector information to cut. From CAD programs this is done by right clicking 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 – we will not cut these files.
You can also directly draw 2D shapes to be cut in a 2D Design program of your choice. CorelDRAW, AutoCAD, Inkscape, or Adobe Illustrator work well.
At the Makerspace we use CorelDRAW to prepare files for the laser. There is wide compatibility with CAD formats with one major exception: by default Inventor exports DXF files which crash CorelDRAW – please export as a 2003 DXF file type.
The laser cutter bed has a cutting area of 36″ x 24″ – parts must be slightly smaller if all edges are to be cut (recommended). We can duplicate and nest parts if multiples are needed.
CNC PCB Milling
We strongly recommend using Autodesk Eagle for Makerspace PCB design.
PCBs MUST be designed for CNC Milling with our tooling. We cannot mill PCBs designed incorrectly! Please make use of the Eagle Design Rule Checker (DRC) using the .dru file found at our Makerspace Github. Please note that not all default library parts are suitable for milling – you will have to make custom parts with correct clearances. There are some Eagle libraries in the Makerspace Github that may be useful. We highly recommend taking a PCB design class (ENGR 294)!
We support milling with a 1/32″ endmill (smaller tools are used only when absolutely necessary). If a part footprint can be designed to work with 1/32″ endmill we expect them to be. Standard 0.1″ headers can be made to work with a 1/32″ endmill!
Make boards single sided unless absolutely necessary. When a second side is needed we recommend using jumper wires instead of a double sided board. If a double sided board is cut vias are not plated and wire needs to be soldered into each via for connectivity.
Common problems that cause boards to be rejected:
- Boards are routed using impossibly thin traces – we support 6 mil traces at a minimum but strongly suggest 16 – 24 mil for most traces.
- Boards use parts that do not pass the 1/32″ DRC
- Boards use two layers when one is sufficient (typically caused by improper autorouter use)
- Boards are too big to be milled (4″ x 5″ max)
Other CNC Milling
We can mill a variety of soft materials – including some soft metals. We highly recommend consulting on a project that may require CNC milling. We need CAD file formats (.STEP, .sldprt, .ipt). We will generate gcode for the mills.
Other file types such as .stl can work in some cases.
Vinyl Cutting and Large Format Printing
The vinyl cutter uses vector information. DXF or SVG files work best. The vinyl cutter is 24″ wide and material spools from a roll.
The large-format printer is controlled with CorelDRAW and can take many file types. Vector graphics work best but any image format works well too. We recommend images are at least 600 DPI at intended printing resolution. The printer can print 36″ wide.
Please contact us!