How Do 3D Printers Work?

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Updated January 16, 2023

If you are new to the world of physical printing, you may wonder how 3D printers work. Some of the best printers are 3D printers, and these models are more complicated than 2D printers. So how do the best 3D printers work, and what are some tips to make fantastic 3D models? Keep reading to find out.


  • 3D printing technology makes solid objects out of filament spools or metal powders, whereas 2D printers reproduce onto paper.
  • The 3D printing process starts with the filament, which is outputted via an extrusion nozzle onto the print bed.
  • Object designs are sourced via blueprints and various schematics found online or created via CAD software.

What is a 3D Printer?

Before undertaking a beginner’s guide to 3D printing, it is helpful to understand the subject a bit. 3D printers use filament and resin to create 3D models if you are just learning about 3D printer extruder calibration. These printers excel at creating 3D objects in a variety of industries and genres, even if you are just learning how auto bed leveling works.

Insider Tip

Keep your printer’s driver software up to date to experience new features and functionalities.

3D printers are generally considered durable and hearty if you wonder how long 3D printers last. They are also on the expensive side due to the advanced tech on offer.

How Do These Printers Work?

Each printer boasts a unique design and feature set, but there are commonalities between all models in this category. Let’s go over some of the primary functions.

Filament and Resin

3D printers don’t use paper. It all starts with filament or resin. These compounds ship in spools and are made from a wide variety of materials to suit different printers, print styles, and objects. The spool is fed into the printer, where it is pushed out via the extrusion nozzle. In other words, the entirety of your 3D-printed object will be made from whatever type of filament you have inserted into the printer.

Print Bed

The extrusion nozzles slowly create prints, layer by layer, starting at the bottom. The 3D model rests on the print bed. These beds prioritize the stability of the object as it is being created, so many beds feature built-in adhesives, so the objects don’t topple over during the printing process. It is important to keep your print bed clean and, if necessary, sticky.

STAT: First invented in the 1980s by Chuck Hull, an engineer, and physicist, 3D printing technology has come a long way. Also called additive manufacturing, 3D printing is the process of making an object by depositing material, one tiny layer at a time. (source)

Blueprints and Designs

Regular printers require a file to print from, and 3D printers are no different. They use blueprints and related design schematics to create models. You can find these blueprints on various message boards and forums dedicated to 3D printing or make them yourself using a standard CAD program.

Printing FAQs

When was 3D printing invented?

The idea first popped up in a sci-fi story in 1945 before officially being invented in 1986. In the previous decades, the original concept has ballooned to include high-tech innovations like powder bed fusion, additive manufacturing techniques, UV lights, laser beams, and more.

How much is a 3D printing device?

They range in price from a few hundred bucks to thousands upon thousands of dollars, depending on the feature sets. High-end printers that use subtractive manufacturing methods such as direct metal laser sintering, selective laser melting, and powder bed fusion cost more than simple designs.

What can you make with one of these printers?

There is a lot you can make with modern printers, thanks to advanced technologies like selective laser sintering and subtractive manufacturing. These features, along with traditional manufacturing methods, let you make 3D objects both large and small.
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