Teaching Tip: 3D printing services abound


Have you been thinking about 3D printing something for your classroom, lab or just for fun but don’t know how to get started? There are a plethora of easy-to-use and inexpensive online services to help with that!

Printable materials include:

  • plastics: flexible, strong, detail, frosted, translucent, elastic
  • metals: steel, sterling silver, brass, bronze, gold, platinum
  • food
  • others: castable wax, sandstone, ceramics and more.

Here are some services we have found to help send you on your way to 3D-printing bliss:


Yeggi is a search engine just for finding printable 3D models.


Check out these free 3D model creation applications, in order by ease of use:

3D printed math models:

These are some 3D printed math models via http://3dmathmodels.site.wesleyan.edu.


There are some important rules of thumb you will need to keep in mind when creating a 3D model. Always look for tutorials and tips from your printing service, as they will be able to best advise on the design for specific materials. See also, Make: Top Ten Tips for 3D Printing.


These online services will print out your designs and rush them to you. There are many others out there, but these offer inexpensive options, various materials and available models by other users.

— Teaching Tip by Jennifer Moss, UAF eLearning instructional designer. You can also see Jen’s step-by-step tutorial on using Photoshop Creative Cloud to create and print something 3D

Learn even more about 3D printing at iTeachU: http://elearning.uaf.edu/go/tt-3dprinting





  • Hello.
    I am very excited about 3-D printing, and have been wanting to try it for some time…so I was intrigued when I saw this in the “Cornerstone”; hoping there would be some local access on campus to a printer – or other local resources!
    This comment, however, is to share disappointment and confusion over how this is a “teaching tip”? Although Ms. Moss’s article http://idesign.uaf.edu/print-3d-from-photoshop-cc/ looks helpful; this is really just a list of other resources and links that have nothing to do with UAF, teaching, or helping us use this technology in the classroom.
    I just don’t see how this is a “Teaching Tip” as is….

  • Thanks for your feedback. We try to keep the subject matter for Teaching Tips variable each week to include a range of subjects related to pedagogy, concepts, and noteworthy technology. We do typically try to focus on classroom uses for the tool-related subjects. The information provided in this tip was meant to be helpful for getting anyone started with very easy to use 3D modeling and printing technologies, both of which can be very technical and intimidating.

    I expect there will be an increasing number of local options for printing. OIT does have a printer but I’m not sure of it’s status or how much training they provide, you can contact the OIT Support Center for more information (helpdesk@alaska.edu).

    Also, after this tip was published, I found out that the CTC Drafting Technology Program will be presenting a series of 3D modeling and printing seminars this fall. I don’t have any further information at this time on those but definitely keep an eye out for exciting things from them.

    Finally, just to follow up on the teaching aspect, here are a few ideas for how 3D printing could be used in academics:

    1. Anthropology or history faculty could use 3D printed artifacts for examination and discussion prompting.
    2. Engineering students could print out inexpensive draft prototypes of their designs to demonstrate part reliability.
    3. Instructors could print complex models of things like mathematical concepts, chemical compounds, topographic structures, city or architectural pieces for classroom demonstration and discussion.
    4. Art students could produce printed art for class and shows.
    5. Theater students could print costumes and set pieces.
    6. Oceanography faculty could print a bathymetry dataset model to use for demonstrating current flow.
    7. Culinary students could print out molds for food products for advanced presentation techniques.
    8. Biology students could print cell structure, viruses, organs and other artifacts as a demonstration of their knowledge or for study aids.
    9. Education students could design age-specific learning products to teach their future students.
    10. Music students could use 3D printers for augmenting existing or creating new instruments as part of their thesis project.

  • Aaron Andrews

    You should also note that the 3D modeling software from Autodesk: 3Ds Max, Maya, Mudbox, and more, is available to students for free!
    You just need to create an account through their student site with your university email: http://www.autodesk.com/education/free-software/all

    Also, the UAF CG Artists Society will be hosting meetings this coming Fall semester, and will be more than happy to teach people how to use these programs! You can keep up to date with our group through Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/421252897933270/

  • Thanks for the reminders Aaron!

  • The official Teaching Tips blog post at http://iteachu.uaf.edu/2014/07/22/3d-printing/ has been updated with more information. Feel free to leave additional comments and suggestions there.

  • I agree that it is important to let professionals handle more complicated printing. I know that I wouldn’t know anything about how to 3D print, and I don’t want to waste any materials. I think in the long run it would also save you a lot of money since you know that everything will be printed correctly.


Leave a comment