Chicago Materials Research Center


The MPML manages digital fabrication resources in our Materials Teaching and Design Lab when used for research purposes. A ULS VLS4.60 laser cutter, a Minitech CNC Micromill, 3D scanners, and a suite of 3D printers with complementary capabilities: two Formlabs Form2 SLA printers, an Ultimaker 5S printer, two Ultimaker3 printers, and a Stratasys J850 high-resolution polyjet multimaterial voxel printer. The MTDL provides instruction and resources for students to explore the next generation of material fabrication techniques. It is also used extensively for MRSEC outreach programs, especially during the summer.

Notice: Our 3D printers are currently operating as a drop-off service.

3D Printer Drop-Off Service Job Submission Procedures


For Ultimaker jobs, you must use the newest version of Cura (currently 5.6 or above) to import your job into a Cura project with either an Ultimaker 3 (not S3) or Ultimaker S5 stock profile depending on which printer you want to use. Make sure the 2nd extruder is configured for support with Ultimaker natural PVA and a BB 0.4 print core. You must then properly select all settings for materials, resolution, infile support, adhesion, etc. Slice your model and make note of estimates for materials used and time. If there are any errors with model printability you must fix them. Please limit batch jobs with multiple models to less than 12 hours. Finally, save your Cura Project in the .3MF format using the top menu. Do not export your file to 3MF or use the “Save to file” button as all printer project settings will be lost.


For Form2 jobs, you must use the newest version of Preform (currently 3.34.1 or above). Create a virtual Form2 printer and load your job. You must then properly select all settings for material, layer thickness, and supports. Please follow Formlabs best practices. Generate supports and the appropriate tilt for your models. Use the full raft option and avoid reducing the touch point size. Please do not use miniraft supports. You should avoid printing surfaces parallel to the build plate as this increases the likelihood of print failure and causes wear and tear on the print tank. Make note of estimates for materials used and time. If there are any errors with model printability you must fix them. Finally, save your Preform project in the .form format.


Please make sure you have completed all steps on our Getting Started page to establish your account.

When your files are correctly formatted, upload them to your shared MTDL Box folder. If you don’t have a shared MTDL Box folder please contact staff to request one.

Due to limited capacity, please submit one or two jobs at a time. When those jobs are completed then please submit a new batch. Please do not overload the print queue so that all users have adequate access.

Please try to limit job length to less than 12 hours by choosing appropriate resolution, infill, etc settings. Please break up large numbers of prints into small batches. We will charge for prints that fail after 12 hours.

When your jobs are uploaded, you may submit them for printing with an online form.

You must submit jobs for the correct printer with accurate information included for printing materials, amounts of materials used, time estimates, and the exact filename of your job.

Submissions with incomplete, ambiguous, and/or incorrect information will be rejected. Submissions with model printability errors or those that do not conform to best practices will also be rejected.


After submission, we will print your job on a best effort basis as time allows. We cannot guarantee fast turnaround times.

When your job is complete, you can pick it up in the box outside of GCIS ESB18. You will need to remove any support materials by dissolving in water or mechanical pruning.


Usage of the 3D printers is supported by the quarterly Facility Access Fee and materials used will be recharged. While operating as a Drop-Off Service, we will not recharge staff time spent printing jobs.

Stratasys J850

Coming Soon!

Formlabs Form2

Our Form2s are SLA printers suitable for small high-resolution parts.

  • Build size: 5.7 x 5.7 x 6.9″
  • XY Spot size: 140um
  • Effective resolution for enclosed features: 500um
  • Z Resolution: 100, 50, 25 um
  • Materials: Clear, White, Grey

Ultimaker S5

  • The Ultimaker S5 is a professional FDM printer with dual extruders.
  • Build size: 19.5 x 18 x 20.5″
  • XY Resolution: 400um
  • Z Resolution: 200, 150, 100, 60um
  • Materials: PLA, PVA (support)


  • The Ultimaker 3 is a professional FDM printer with dual extruders.
  • Build size: 7.8 x 7.8 x 7.8″
  • XY Resolution: 400um
  • Z Resolution: 200, 150, 100, 60um
  • Materials: PLA, PVA (support)

ProtoMAX Waterjet Cutter

  • Waterjet cutter

Minitech CNC Micromill

ULS VLS4.60 Laser Cutter

Universal Laser Systems VLS4.60 laser cutter system with 50W CO2 laser and 24″ x 18″ cutting bed. Rapid prototyping with various kinds of plastic and wood. Rotary attachment.

  • 50W CO2 Laser
  • HPDFO Lens available
  • Rotary attachment with Perfect Chucks
  • 24″ x 18″ honeycomb cutting bed
  • Air assist
  • ULS ULTRA X6000 Laser Processing Center
  • Universal Laser Systems ULTRA X6000 laser processing system with 3 lasers: 75W 10.6um CO2, 75W, 9.3um CO2, and
  • 50W 1.06um fiber laser. High resolution optics, autofocus, encoded positioning, and camera registration.
  • 75W 10.6um CO2 Laser
  • 75W 9.3um CO2 Laser
  • 50W 1.06um fiber laser
  • Adjustable power density
  • 36″ x 24″ work area with vacuum boost
  • Encoded positioning
  • Lateral and coaxial gas assist
  • Touchscreen interface
  • Materials: plastics, thin metals, glass
Laser Cutter Safety Rules
  1. Never leave the machine running unattended. Stay in the room and pay attention to your job at all times. Turn the power off to the cutter if you must leave the room, even for short times.
  2. Never put unapproved materials in the laser cutter. When in doubt, ASK.
  3. Never put unknown materials in the laser cutter.
  4. Always keep ventilation at maximum. DO NOT close the exhaust vent.
  5. Always use the ‘air assist’ N2 purge. Always fully open the N2 valve.
  6. Clean up and remove all debris generated by your job. Use the HEPA vacuum to clean out the honeycomb downdraft table after each job.
  7. All users MUST be trained and authorized by MPML staff.
  8. All users MUST have their own key. Lab or shared keys are not allowed. Lock the room door when you are finished.
  9. All users MUST make a reservation prior to use.
  10. All users MUST sign in and sign out of the logbook.
  11. All users MUST sign in and sign out of the computer with their CNET ID.
  12. Immediately REPORT all accidents (eg: fire, smoke, & laser carriage crash).
  13. DO NOT attempt to fix or repair any problems on your own. Report them.
  14. The laser cutter is provided for lab research and outreach projects only. Personal projects are not allowed. Use the Hack Arts Lab instead.

Failure to follow these rules will result in immediate loss of user privileges

When in doubt, ASK MPML staff FIRST

Allowed Materials

  • Acrylic, Plexiglass, & Lucite up to 3/8″ thick. Cast acrylic is preferable. Leave protective paper on when cutting. Remove paper when engraving or rastering.
  • Delrin (POM) up to 1/8″ thick.
  • Medium Density fiberboard (MDF). Use bare wood only. No veneers or plastic laminates.
  • Matte board, cardboard, posterboard.
  • PDMS or Silicone rubber. Make sure PDMS is halogen-free
  • Plywood (hardwoods with low resin content: birch, balsa, maple, cherry, polar, walnut, oak)
  • Glass for engraving only. Do not try to cut glass (even coverslips).
  • Other materials may be allowable, but must be approved by MPML Staff prior to use.

Strictly Prohibited Materials

  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • Any material or plastic containing halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, & iodine)
  • Polycarbonates (Lexan)
  • ABS
  • Vinyl
  • Any reflective materials. No mirrored acrylic.
  • Soft woods with high resin content (pine, cedar, spruce, fir)
  • Wood laminates or veneers
  • Fiberglass (circuit boards)

Use of any unapproved materials may result in severe damage to the laser cutter, dangerous fumes, fire, or other serious personal safety hazards.

Anyone using unapproved materials will immediately lose their access to the laser cutter and be held liable for damage to the machine.

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