Important Preface from the DREAMS Lab

The DreamVendor is built from the ground up by students, for students. We have made the DreamVendor as intuitive, reliable, and easy to use as we know how, but we expect new and exciting problems under continued use. Please bear with us, and know that your participation is helping us make the DreamVendor even better.

With that said, the instructions below should result in a successful print. They are by no means the only way to use the DreamVendor, but if you’re having trouble, these directions should point you in the right direction.

Any questions or concerns should be directed to

If you’d like to learn more about additive manufacturing, start by visiting the Facility page on our website. Happy printing!

Before Using the DreamVendor
  1. (Skip to Step 2 in this section if you got your STL file from another source) Use any CAD program to make a 3D solid model that abides by our Rules, Tips, and Tricks, then export the part as an STL file. Methods for exporting from common CAD packages such as Autodesk Inventor and NX are below:
    1. Autodesk Inventor
      1. File->Export->CAD Format
      2. Save as type “STL File(*.stl)”
      3. Options
        1. Select the unit it was drawn in
        2. “Medium” quality. (Generally medium is sufficient. Higher mesh density will increase the file size and slow down our system, without much gain in accuracy.)
    2. Siemens NX8.5
      1. File->Export->STL
      2. OK
      3. File name and location
      4. OK
      5. Select Objects to be in the .STL (Typically “select all”)
      6. OK
  2. (Encouraged) Check your file in netfabb to make sure it has generated correctly. netfabb is free, and will generally show a large red exclamation point onscreen if anything is wrong.
  3. Put the STL file onto a USB drive in the root directory (not inside a folder). Bring your Hokie Passport and USB to the DreamVendor.
Printing at the DreamVendor
  1. Insert your USB into the port next to the user interface screen.
  2. You will be prompted to swipe your Hokie Passport. The card swipe is mounted on the right side of the interface.
  3. If this is your first time using the DreamVendor, you will be asked to provide some basic information. This will allow us to send you an email when your print is complete, and address you by your name. You will also be asked if you wish to be put on the DreamVendor listserv; this is not necessary but highly recommended if you intend to use the DreamVendor frequently or are interested in additive manufacturing. It is only used on occasion to give important information about the DreamVendor or the DREAMS Lab.
  4. The next page will allow you to choose which part you would like to print. Select your USB (if not already selected) and select the file you would like to print. This may take a moment to load.
    1. Select the correct unit below the displayed image.
    2. You can select model rotation and scaling to change the size and orientation of your model. The current constraints on size are 160mm in diameter and 200mm in height. These dimensions are subject to change, however, as more is learned about usage statistics and as more printers are added to the DreamVendor system.
    3. Click “Continue” when you are satisfied with your file.
  5. (This section will become relevant as more printers are added) Select the color in which you would like your part to be printed.
    1. The colors displayed are the current available printers for the system.
    2. Selecting “Surprise Me!” will select the next available printer.
  6. Verify that your print is correct.
    1. Click the back button if something does not look correct.
    2. There is a check box that allows for emailing when a print starts and finishes. This works fairly reliably except if the system looses connectivity, which happens frequently in Goodwin Atrium.
    3. Click “Okay” when satisfied.
  7. Take your USB with you as you leave.
Picking up Your Print
  1. Pick up your print when the print is finished. Push in the front door panel to retrieve your print.
  2. Occasionally your print will not be finished due to a maintenance issue. Please email and try printing your part again later. We appreciate your patience in this.