Author Archives: Fernando Ontiveros

3D Printing @ Fisher!!

Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, we in the Biology department were able to acquire the newest 3D printer made by Makerbot. Here I will try to briefly explain what 3D printing is all about, with the goal of encouraging anyone in the Fisher community to have access to and take advantage of this machine. I will also mention in passing a new silhouette cutter we recently acquired.

What is 3D printing?

The idea of 3D printing comes from the concept of bottom-up construction or manufacturing. Instead of cutting pieces of materials and then putting them together, one can design a 3 dimensional structure and have a machine “print it” by depositing melted plastic on a very fine scale.

What machine did we acquire?

The new Makerbot Replicator Mini makerbot_mini


Why did you buy this?

The Nanobiology Lab at Fisher builds microfluidic devices; we need to produce custom-made cases and scaffolds for the chips we make.

What things can I make?

That’s where your imagination comes into play. Anything you can design/draw can be produced (within certain limits of size and resolution). If you have never used the free versions of SketchUp from Google, you will find it a very approachable modeling program that will produce files our machine can print. There are also plenty of already-designed objects that can be downloaded either for free or for a fee.

What are they made of?

PLA, a biodegradable plastic derived from corn starch.

What is a silhouette cutter?

Think of a printer that instead of depositing ink, has a blade that cuts the pattern you feed into it. It is used to cut a range of sheet-format materials, like paper, cardboard, silicon sheets or vinyl.



Where can I go to learn more about this?

Who do I contact to start 3D printing?

You can contact myself ( or Mike Boller ( in the Biology Department.

We are excited to have this kind of equipment and happy to share it with anyone interested in using it!!

To learn more about the Nanobiology Lab at Fisher, please visit our site.