3D Printing at the NExT Lab
Learn and skill up in using 3D Printing workflows at the NExT Lab

Why use 3D Printing?

3D printing is a manufacturing process that allows you to create a physical object from a digital model. This enables you to produce complex yet functional shapes cheaply and without needing a detailed understanding of manufacturing. This digital-to-physical workflow is known as digital fabrication.
There are two main methods used for digital fabrication at the MSD and within industry: Subtractive and Additive processes. Subtractive processes remove material from a solid block. An example is a CNC machine which uses a computer-guided drill to sculpt a model from a solid material. 3D Printing is an Additive process because it builds a model from material. A very small computer-controlled nozzle is used to lay down plastic layer by layer.
Today, more industries and design schools are embracing digital fabrication and 3D printing in the design process, using it for anything from design exploration, prototyping, and exhibition models, to both small and large-scale fabrication. Compared to traditional manufacturing techniques, 3D printing and digital fabrication present new and exciting potentials!
Showcasing plastic being laid down layer by layer.

Advantages of 3D Printing

Complex Forms
3D Printing enables the fabrication of complex, intricate and detailed designs. Geometries benefit from the direct digital-to-physical workflow.
Iteration & Customisation
Take advantage of the digital fabrication workflow. Digital models can be rapidly manipulated and generated, used as quickly as they can be printed. This can also be used for mass customisation and adaptive designs.
Functioning Models
3D printed models can be used as printed; they don't need further processing. This makes them useful as prototypes, functional products or as part of a fabrication process.
Replicable Models
As a computer-controlled process, the same model can be accurately produced to designed tolerances - models can be hot-swapped to present an array of options.
3D printing outcomes are mostly determined before they even reach the printer; digital model-making instead of physical model-making. It requires less oversight compared model-making via hand or laser cutting as the machine is automated, making it an accessible process.

3D Printing at the NExT Lab

3D Printing at the NExT Lab runs as a service bureau. After setting up a file, the NExT Lab will review and print it for you. You will be able to learn all the ins-and-outs of 3D Printing without needing to deal with the technical issues as our staff will maintain all the technology.
Our facilities and resources are open to all at the University of Melbourne.
  1. 1.
    Intro Sessions Book here
    Our Introduction Sessions gives a basic overview of the NExT Lab and the process of 3D printing with us.
  2. 2.
    Knowledge Base
    This Knowledge Base is where we hold all our learning resources. Understanding the capabilities and limitations of the technology will help you achieve your desired outcomes. Using the navigation on the left or the search bar, you can find a variety of guides on the printing process and techniques.
  3. 3.
    Consultations Book here Speak to one our technicians before you begin to find out how to best utilise 3D printing in your project! Additionally, if our Knowledge Base does not hold the answers you seek, come have a chat and we will guide you in the right direction.
  4. 4.
    Print with us!
    Submit your prepared files through the Makerbot Innovation Center after you have prepared the files, we will review it and print it for you.
There is a queue that can get busy during the key submission times across the semester with a fluctuating turnaround time, so get files in early!

Our 3D Printers

The NExT Lab hosts the following 3D printing options:
Makerbot Replicator Family
Standard 3D Printing
Makerbot Method
High Quality 3D Printing
Experimental Extruders
BYO Experimental Materials
Prusa Family

Makerbot Replicator+ & Replicator Z18

Standard 3D Printing
Figure 1.0 - (Left) Makerbot Replicator+ (Right) Makerbot Replicator Z18
The NExT Lab is home to 29 x Makerbot Replicator + and 2 x Replicator Z18.
The Makerbot Replicator family of printers are engineered and extensively tested for reliable, faster 3D printing. It is the perfect tool for you to quickly and cheaply test and bring new ideas to life.  The only difference between the two models is the build volume.
Replicator +
Replicator Z18
295mm (L) x 195mm (W) x 165mm (H)
300mm (L) x 305mm (W) x 457mm (H)

Materials + Colours

Makerbot PLA
Our choice of material is PLA (polylactic acid). It is biodegradable, easy to print and has a wide variety of colours to suit your desired outcome:
Cool Grey
Natural (Clear)
These colours are subject to availability:
  • Ocean Blue
  • Neon Pink
  • Purple
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Warm Grey
  • Green


As long as you have access to the NExT Lab you can submit via the Makerbot Innovation Center. All jobs submitted through this standard process defaults to using these printers.


Cost  is calculated by the weight of plastic material that is used to print your entire request. Additional to the volume of your geometry, the generated raft and support material is also factored in.
University of Melbourne
Student and Staff Projects
External / Commercial Projects
& Replicator Z18
$0.15 per gram
$0.30 per gram
Makerbot Innovation Centre will calculate your estimate price, however, NExT Lab technicians will calculate your job individually.

Get Started

Follow our Ultimate Guide to learn about the entire 3D printing process, from the modelling phase to submitting a file:

Makerbot Method

High Quality 3D Printing & Dissolvable Supports
The Makerbot Method is available that prints at a finer layer resolution, combined with its heated chamber, it results in very high quality prints. This printer's main feature is its dual extruders that allows it to interchange between two materials throughout a print. This main use is for dissolvable supports. This will allow you to print highly complex 3D models or even stack models without having to worry about support removal. Dissolvable support material completely dissolves when submerged in water, making this printing method perfect for fragile and complex models that would normally required a lot of support.
Print Material: PLA Plastic and PVA Support Material
  • Print Area: 190mm (L) x 190mm (W) x 196mm (H)  

Materials + Colours

True White
True Black
Dissolves in water, eliminating the need to remove supports.
Refer to the True White above with the Makerbot Replicator family.
Refer to the True Black above for the Makerbot Replicator family.

Access & Cost

As long as you have access to the NExT Lab you can submit via the Makerbot Innovation Center. Please ensure you have selected the Method as the printer in Makerbot Print before slicing and uploading your files to the Makerbot Innovation Center. See Cost of Print table below for prices.

Get Started

Follow our Ultimate Guide to learn about the entire 3D printing process, from the modelling phase to submit a file:

Experimental Extruders

BYO Experimental materials
Makerbot printers can be equipped with experimental extruders to allow for the experimentations of various material printing, e.g. wood-filled filament. If you are an enthusiast who would like to try your hand at a different material, book a consultation with us to discuss feasibility.

Access & Cost

Please book a consultation or contact us to discuss using the experimental extruders in your projects.

Cost of Print

The cost of a 3D print using the Makerbot is calculated by the weight of plastic that is used to print the object. This includes the amount needed for the raft and support structures used to complete the print successfully. 
Printer/Job Type
Student / Staff / PHD
External / Commercial
@0.25/g PLA
@0.50/g PVA
@0.50/g PLA
@1.00/g PVA
Payment Options
EFTPOS or Online through Shopify
EFTPOS/Shopify or Themis Charge.
Makerbot Innovation Centre will calculate your estimate price, however, NExT Lab technicians will calculate your job individually.
Last modified 9mo ago