Skip to main content

Digital Scholarship Innovation Studio

Window logo for the DSI


Digital Scholarship at UCSC

Getting Started at the DSI

Are you interested in 3D printing but not sure where to start?  Come by our space and learn about what's there, take a look at some of our sample prints, and see how the printers work.  Our printers use fused deposition modeling (FDM), which works by laying down layers of plastic filament as thin as .04mm.  These layers build up in shape to create a full 3D model.  We aim to create a space that is welcoming to anyone at any point in the learning process.  To aid in this, we have some educational posters and prints in the space that our student workers can talk you through if you want to learn more about the process.

If you're ready to learn how to use the printers, the training process is a 3 step process:

  1. Attend a 1.5-hour in-person training session or take our online training.  You can take both, or attend the in-person session as often as you want.  You're also welcome to ask as many questions of our DSI student works any time you're in the space - they're ready to help.
  2. After you've attended the first stage of training, a note will be added to your library record that lets you check out our training USB.  This USB has 3 DSI challenge coins pre-sliced.  You are welcome to print out as many DSI challenge coins as you'd like to get familiar with the equipment.  DSI students and staff are available to help you through this process.
  3. Once you're ready, you'll sign up for a skills assessment.  Information on how to do this will be provided at the end of the in-person or online training.  During the assessment, you'll be asked to change the nozzle, change the filament, and print one of the DSI coins.  You'll also be asked some safety questions.  Once this assessment is complete, a note will be added to your library account which allows you to check out a USB that you can put your own files on for 3D printing.

We look forward to seeing you!


Register for In-Person Training      Complete Online Training

3D Prints for Study

This quarter, the DSI is piloting a 3D print on demand project geared towards supporting academic study. We recognize that not everyone will be interested in learning how to 3D print.  While we don't want to become a print shop, we do want to support students who are looking to enhance their study habits.


To this end, we are accepting requests for 3D prints related to academic needs.  These prints will become part of our DSI collection.  Once printed, they can be checked out from the DSC using library reserves rules for a 4 hour checkout period.  These prints must stay within S&E and cannot be checked out overnight.


Request a 3D print for the DSI collection

Basic 3D modeling

3D models can be found in many places online for printing.  We recommend finding models in places that are intended for 3D printing, as those will be designed so that they are printable.  Some recommendations to find existing 3D models are: Thingiverse, Cults 3D, Pinshape, My Mini Factory, and SketchFab.  When using a 3D model for printing, it is important to review the copyright information that comes along with the model.


If you can't find just the model you're looking for, you can create it yourself!  We recommend TinkerCad for beginner 3D modelers.  The program is a free online tool hosted by AutoDesk.  They also have a series of learning tutorials that bring you from the basics of 3D modeling into specific projects.


For more robust 3D modeling programs, we have the following 3D programs installed in the Digital Scholarship Commons lab on the ground floor of McHenry Library:  Maya, AutoCAD, MudboxSketchUp Pro, and Blender.


When modeling for 3D printing, the following design considerations should be followed:

  • The model must be watertight and should not have any holes.
  • All surfaces on the model should be pointing towards the outside of the object and connected (no non-manifold surfaces)
  • A larger base will create a stronger print
  • Parts of the model that are smaller than .1mm are unlikely to print cleanly


If you want to check your model for possible print errors and correct those errors, we recommend MeshMixer.  The DSI uses CURA to slice for 3D printing on our Ultimaker 3 machines.