A105 and A106
The digital lab has a Universal Testing Machine, digital microscope, and a materials resource library. The 3D printers are housed here and in addition two sewing machines.

3D Rapid Prototyping

The 3D Printers or 3D rapid prototypers are machines which produces a 3-dimentional solid object from a digital 3D model.  Our 3D printers use additive layer manufacturing  to produce models,  We have two different types of printers here, four which use the FDM process, extruding a heated plastic filament of PLA or ABS and the other using SLA (Stereolithography) to cure layers of resin with a photo laser.  With both printers layers of material are created by the printer by following a set of instructions from the software to slice a 3D model into layers, then building up those layers until it creates a complete printed 3D model. All take a .stl file extension for printing. 

The Dimension printer- 1200es (Lexus) has a 10" cubed build area, it is printing with a ABS and a washout support structure (Cost is $4 per cubic inch for CAPLA students only). For UofA students and Faculty outside of CAPLA, the costs are $10 a cubic inch.

Makerbot 2, with an 11x6x6" build area.  The MakerBot is currently using a PLA starch based material. (Costs are, free, you bring your own media to print with)

Printrbot Simple has a 6" x6 x6" build area and is using a PLA media. (Costs are free, you bring your own media to print with)

Pegasus is a SLA laser printer, with a 7x7x9" build area.   (Costs are .20 cents per ml, so a 50ml print would be $10) (Important to keep cover on at all times)(post processing to cure resin fully is necessary with this printer)

For MakerWare software:  https://www.makerbot.com/desktop

For Pegasus Printer software:  http://printrbot.com/project/simple-metal  

Dimension printer questions:  http://www.stratasys.com/3d-printers/design-series/dimension-1200es

Dimension Wash-out Tank Instructions:

cleaning solution contains sodium hydroxide which can cause severe burns to eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Proper handling is solely the responsibility of the user.


·        Do not operate the unit unless authorized to do so.

·        Always wear safety face shield and rubber gloves when working near the unit.

·        Turn power to unit off.

·        Remove lid and place on provided lip right in front of control panel

·        Raise the cleaning basket out of the tank and rest on support/guide pins

·        Place parts in appropriate stainless steel basket. Use small square basket with latched door for smaller parts and put in larger basket.

·        Slowly lower the large basket into the tank.

·        If fluid level indicator light comes on and more water to tank until it turns off.

·        Never operate tank unless the liquid level is above the liquid level low mark on the rear wall of tank.

·        Place lid back on tank

·        Press set button to set time, use arrows to raise and lower time

·        Press start cleaning cycle

·        Cleaning time is based on size of part and cleaning solution condition

·        If solution is too dirty to clean any more ask monitor to change.

Useful Rhino to 3D printing .STL output tips: http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic907832.files/Tips%20for%20Users%20of%20Rhino.pdf

Other local sources, to compare costs, available for 3d printing:



Microsoft on-line repair tools:




Digital Input Devices

The lab has a MicroScribe-3D Desktop Digitizer. This device allows complex geometries to be entered directly into 3D digital files.

Instron Testing Machine

Tensile strength measures the force required to pull something such as ropewire, or a structural beam to the point where it breaks.


The tensile strength of a material is the maximum amount of tensile stress that it can take before failure, for example breaking.

There are three typical definitions of tensile strength:

  • Yield strength - The stress a material can withstand without permanent deformation. This is not a sharply defined point. Yield strength is the stress which will cause a permanent deformation of 0.2% of the original dimension.
  • Ultimate strength - The maximum stress a material can withstand.
  • Breaking strength - The stress coordinate on the stress-strain curve at the point of rupture.

Units or how to measure

Compression strength

See: http://www.instron.us/wa/glossary/Compression-Test.aspx

Compressive stress and strain are calculated and plotted as a stress-strain diagram which is used to determine elastic limitproportional limityield pointyield strength and (for some materials) compressive strength

The flexure test method measures behavior of materials subjected to simple beam loading.

Types of Flexure Tests

Flexure testing is often done on relatively flexible materials such as polymers, wood and composites. There are two test types; 3-point flex and 4-point flex. In a 3-point test the area of uniform stress is quite small and concentrated under the center loading point. In a 4-point test, the area of uniform stress exists between the inner span loading points (typically half the outer span length).



How to plot data in MS Excel

  1. You must first save all data as a .TXT file. It should be set up to save as a .TXT file but if it is not, open the test method, click on the main tab, go to global parameters, and check the box that says “ASCII Test Data File.”
  2. Run the test after setting up your test parameters, Scale, Units, etc, in the Main Tabs and save to the desktop or a flash drive. NO internet connection!
  3. Transfer data to computer with Excell and open .TXT data file.
  4. Hit file, open “all .TXT files” select your file.
  5. You will go through the import wizard to bring your file in to Excell.
  6. There should be 3 columns of data depending on how you set up your data collection. Data, Data point #, and time of the data point.
  7. To graph, select the time and data point. Then go to “insert”, chose “line” then chose “stacked Line”.