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3D Printing

Learn more about and discover resources for 3D printing.

School of Medicine Library


Front Desk Phone: (702) 545-2005

Makerspace Phone: (702) 545-2081

Staffed Hours:
Mon - Fri 8 AM - 5 PM      

School of Medicine Library
625 Shadow Lane 

Las Vegas, NV. 89106

3D Printing Point of Contact

Kee Choi

Technology Specialist

Division: Library Technologies

Phone: 702-895-2201

Email Address:

Building Location: LLB 3241

Mail Stop: 7041



Welcome to the UNLV School of Medicine Library 3D Printing Guide! 

Throughout this guide, you will find information about parts of a 3D printer, the process of 3D printing, how to create and find your own prints/print files, and printing at the School of Medicine Library located inside the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV. 


What is 3D printing?

3D printing is the process of creating three-dimensional tangible objects from a digital design. Additive manufacturing is the process of creating three-dimensional objects one layer at a time. Using an extruder the 3D printer will heat up a material (filament) and melt it. Each layer bonding to the previous layer. The material may be in various forms of plastic or resin.  Different types of 3D printers use different types of materials and each material has different properties.

Parts of a 3D Printer

Common parts of 3D printers:

Build Plate: Foundation on which prints are built. Also known as, print bed or heated build plate. 

Extruder: Heated unit that melts filament. Also known as, print core or hot end. 

Filament: Material that is melted, then bonded to create a 3D object.

Control panel: A user interface to select machine options. Also known as, display unit. 

Guide tubes: Tubes that house filament and direct it from a spool and into the extruder. Also known as, Bowden tubes, direct drive (if none)

Nozzle: The part of the extruder that deposits the filament on the build plate.

If you would like to know more about the different parts of a 3D printer check out the resources below:

Anatomy of a 3D Printer: How Does a 3D Printer Work 

3D Printer Parts: Complete List of 3D Printed Components

Types of Filament

There are a variety of different filaments that 3D printers can use. Below are just a few common filament types, their properties, and pros and cons. 

PLA (Polylactic Acid)

PLA is probably the most popular type of filament used in 3D printing as it is easy to print with and is more environmentally friendly than other types of filament. 


  • Easy to print
  • Comes in a wide variety of colors 
  • Medium durability                                                                                                                                                    


  • Brittle
  • It is recommended not to be used to print anything that would be high wear or items that need to be twisted, bent, or dropped


Tough PLA (Polylactic Acid)

Tough PLA’s impact strength is closer to ABS than regular PLA. This means your 3D printed parts can be used for more functional applications, such as jigs, fixtures, and tools.


  • Optimized for large prints
  • Easy to print 
  • Reliable 
  • Ideal for Ultimaker S5
  • Achieve complex geometrics 

- Intricate curves, fine details, and overhangs


  • Only available in 4 colors                                         

ABS (Acrylonitrile Styrene)- ABS is less popular than PLA, but it is stronger and more durable than PLA is. ABS is used to help make items such as Legos. 


  • High Strength                                      
  • Durable 


  • Produces hazardous fumes when printing 
  • Can warp easily
  • Needs a high-temperature print nozzle    

CPE (Co-Polyester)

CPE (co-polyester) material is an ideal choice for 3D printing functional prototypes and mechanical parts. This filament is formulated for chemical resistance, toughness, and reliable dimensional stability.


  • Excellent chemical resistance

  • High toughness and dimensional stability

  • High impact strength

  • A range of colors to choose from, including grayscale for professional-looking models

  • Good flexural strength (Flexural modulus of 2100 MPa)

  • Good tensile strength (Tensile stress at break 38 MPa)

  • High impact strength (Izod tested to 95 J/m)

  • High hardness (Rockwell 108)                        


  • High printing temperature
  • Too strong print surface adhesion 
  • Stringing issues similar to PETG
  • Hygroscopic material                                                                                                                           

PC (Polycarbonate)

PC (polycarbonate) material, print parts that are tough, strong, and retain dimensional stability when subjected to temperatures as high as 110 ºC. polycarbonate 3D printing material properties make it perfect for printing molds, tools, functional prototypes, and parts for short-run manufacturing.


  • Resists temperatures and retains form up to 110 ºC

  • Flame retardant characteristics

  • Transparent option for translucent parts

  • High toughness, especially for non-transparent options

  • Good tensile strength (59.7 MPa at break)

  • High impact strength (Charpy tested to 3.41 J/m)

  • High melting temperature (Mass flow rate at 300 °C: 23 - 26 g/10 min)

  • Glass transition at 112 - 113 ºC


  • Requires high printer temperatures 
  • Prone to warpage if not printed under optimal conditions
  • Tends to ooze while printing                                                                                               


Nylon is a polyamide grade based on PA6/66. It features reduced humidity absorption and longer shelf life compared to other nylon filaments. Able to withstand significant mechanical stress, nylon material is a great choice for 3D printing tools, functional prototypes, and end-use parts.


  • Impact and abrasion-resistant

  • Low friction coefficient

  • Corrosion-resistant to alkalis and organic chemicals

  • Prints in dual extrusion with PVA or Breakaway

  • Excellent impact strength (Izod tested to 34.4 kJ/m²)

  • Good ductility (210% elongation at break)

  • Melting temperature (from 185 °C)


  •       High-temperature requirement                                               

TPU 95A (thermoplastic polyurethane)

TPU 95A (thermoplastic polyurethane) is a flexible material, making it ideal for applications that demand chemical resistance and the qualities of rubber and plastic. 


  • Exceptional wear and tear resistance

  • Rubber-like flexibility

  • A great choice for industrial coatings or prototyping consumer products

  • Shore A hardness of 95

  • Up to 580% elongation at break

  • Good corrosion resistance to common industrial oils and chemicals


  • Expensive
  • Prints at slower speeds thus leads to longer printing times                                                 


Breakaway support is easy and quick to remove. It leaves behind a smoother quality finish than other support materials, with no further post-processing needed.


  • No sanding ensures high dimensional accuracy – ideal for tight-tolerance parts

  • No waiting for support material to dissolve

  • Longer shelf life and less moisture-sensitive compared to PVA

  • High-quality surface finish on your model

  • Parts made from build materials that are moisture-sensitive or not compatible with Ultimaker PVA

  • Tight-tolerance gauges that should not be post-processed

  • Tools where unremoved Breakaway can provide high-contrast labeling


  •        Causes clogging and oozing in print cores                                                                                                                

PVA (PolyVinyl Alcohol) 

PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) is a leading water-soluble support material for multi-extrusion 3D printing. It offers you freedom and convenience: to design complex model geometries that require supports, which dissolve away in tap water.


  • Reliable adhesion to PLA, Tough PLA, CPE, and Nylon

  • Non-toxic formula dissolves in regular tap water which can be disposed of safely

  • 100% biodegradable with no hazardous by-products

  • Good thermal stability gives better degradation resistance compared to other PVA filaments

  • Melting temperature 163 ºC

  • Water-soluble support material

  • Dissolves in ordinary tap water


  • Expensive
  • Causes clogging and oozing in print cores                                                                                                           

Glossary of Terms

3D printing uses a variety of terms that may be unfamiliar. Explore the glossaries below to become familiar with the terms.


The SOML does not endorse any of the websites or products that are presented on this Libguide, they are for informational purposes only. Those wishing to become involved in 3D printing are encouraged to do their own research to determine which products best meet their needs.

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