3D Printing


  1. How 3D Printing Works
  2. Getting Started
  3. FAQs

There are different types of 3D printers available FDM, Stereolithography and SLS. One of the most popular and widely available is the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM).

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

FDM is an additive process, where a model is created by heating and extruding plastic, pieced together layer by layer.


Stereolithography is a more complex and higher quality type of printing. Stereolithography also uses the additive process but instead of extruding plastics, the process utilizes an ultraviolet light beam to harden a model from a pool of photosensitive liquid.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is the third type of printing, which involves lasers and powders instead of UV light beams and liquid. A laser is used to melt the powder, creating a layer of the printed material. This allows some models to print metal objects, which is not possible in the other two processes.

Printers Available for Use

The Grand Forks Public Library provides two FDM printers for the public to utilize. The two materials required for 3D printing are Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). Both are thermoplastics that will become soft and malleable when heated, frozen when cooled. They are sold as 1kg (2.2 lbs.) spools of filament. PLA is a biodegradable plastic that is derived from corn starch. ABS is a petroleum-based plastic with strength and flexibility, similar to the material in LEGOs. PLA is much safer to use in public areas, whereas ABS requires a ventilation hood for toxic fumes. The library only uses PLA type filament in our printers for your safety.


Here are a few videos that can give you a visual explanation for each type of 3D printing technology: