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TechLab Resources

cylinder with nubs being 3D printed

User-Submitted Documentation

These are documents outlining certain processes as contributed by our campus users.  User discretion advised.

Molecular orbitals printed in the lab

3D Printing Molecular Orbitals Superimposed on Molecular Structures - Nate Hirscher, Chris Reed 


General 3D Printing in the Library - Daan Speth
Slic3r Settings for Printing w/ MAKEiT Pro-M - Daan Speth



Intro to 3D Printing - Advanced Techniques - presented by Russell Singer, Development Director, MAKEiT Inc.


Creating STL file for 3D Printing from MATLAB surface elevation data - Georgy Manucharyan

  • Package - March 2017
       - ZIP includes an example MATLAB script (penny_STL_example.m) and necessary fuctions (stlwrite.m & surf2solid.m)
       - Comments are included in the example script to provide a straightforward walkthrough within MATLAB


General Guides & Troubleshooting

HUBS A Protolabs CompanyWhat is 3D Printing? The definitive guide to additive manufacturing - In this guide you’ll find everything you need to know about 3D printing, starting with the very basics to post-processing techniques.


Simplify3D Print Quality Guide - - This guide is a great place to start if you are trying to improve the quality of your 3D printed parts. S3D has compiled an extensive list of the most common 3D printing issues along with the software settings that you can use to solve them. Best of all, the guide uses a large collection of real-world images to make each issue easy to identify when examining your own 3D printed parts.

Ultimaker-Logo.pngUltimaker 3D Prints Troubleshooting Guide - - This guide shows all kinds of ugly prints and explains what may have caused them, which can either be hardware, software or material related.

mh-logo-themed.pngMatterHackers Visual Troubleshooting Guide - - A similar guide to help you identify and solve the most common issues that may occur while 3D printing.

3D Modeling/CAD Software

Computer programs used for developing a mathematical representation of any three-dimensional surface of objects.


Tinkercad - - TinkerCAD is a free browser-based 3D solid modelling tool for rapid prototyping known for its simple interface and entry-level ease of use.

onshape_logo_medium.pngOnshape - - Onshape is a professional 3D CAD system – Parts, Assemblies, Drawings – with version control and collaboration built in. All of Onshape’s CAD and data management functionality is included in each subscription (Free, Professional, and Enterprise) with no expiration date.

VECTARY-Logo-VctrColor-Square.pngVectary - - VECTARY is a new free online 3D modeling tool with which you can create, share and customize 3D designs. VECTARY is a combination of standard mesh modeling, subdivision modeling and parametric plugins. It was built from scratch to make 3D modeling easy-to-use for beginners, and is also useful to pros.

Free/Open Source

OpenSCAD - - "The Programmers Solid 3D CAD Modeller" - OpenSCAD is a free software application for creating solid 3D CAD (computer-aided design) objects. It is a script-only based modeller that uses its own description language; parts can be previewed but cannot be interactively selected or modified by mouse in the 3D view.

blender-socket.pngBlender - - Blender is a professional free and open-source 3D computer graphics software product used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D printed models, interactive 3D applications and video games. Blender's features include 3D modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, raster graphics editing, rigging and skinning, fluid and smoke simulation, particle simulation, soft body simulation, sculpting, animating, match moving, camera tracking, rendering, video editing and compositing. It further features an integrated game engine.


Solidworks - - SolidWorks is a solid modeler, and utilizes a parametric feature-based approach to create models and assemblies. Solidworks installation and licenses are available to the Caltech campus community on

autodesk-inventor-logo.pngAutodesk Inventor - - 3D CAD software is used for product design, rendering, and simulation. It uses ShapeManager, their proprietary geometric modeling kernel. Autodesk Inventor competes directly with SolidWorks.  Autodesk Education Master Suite downloads and licenses are available to Caltech students and educators on


Mesh Manipulation/STL Repair

Tools with different functions for manipulating, analyzing and repairing 3D meshes


Automated STL repair services - use at own risk

MakePrintable -
Netfabb Cloud Service -
   - Microsoft Cloud Repair [powered by Netfabb] -


Meshmixer - | Documentation - Meshmixer is a fully fledged free modeling solution that is also capable of hollowing, scaling and mesh simplification.  This is a robust tool that offers much by way of mesh manipulation.  Highly recommended.

MeshLab - -  MeshLab is an open source system for processing and editing 3D triangular meshes.  It provides a set of tools for editing, cleaning, healing, inspecting, rendering, texturing and converting meshes. It offers features for processing raw data produced by 3D digitization tools/devices and for preparing models for 3D printing. Highly recommended.


Alternative Slicing Software

Free/Open Source Slicers

These have not all been extensively tested with our particular machines but may also provide good results.  Please exercise caution when setting up the printer profile settings and trying out these options.

Cura -
MatterControl -
Slic3r -
CraftWare -

Paid Software

Simplify3D - - $150 - Simplify3D is a commercial slicer and 3D printer host. It has a number of useful features, including custom support structures, tighter control over individual parts of your model and ultrafast slicing.  Highly recommended.  This software is available for the Caltech campus community on the workstations right outside the TechLab.