How to Program a 3D Printer

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Updated February 1, 2023

There’s a lot of positive buzz around the best 3D printers. And for a good reason, because not only are they great for making affordable parts, they are a new frontier of the creative landscape. However, selecting the best printer for your needs takes more than knowing which model to get. You also need to understand how to use the software to create exactly what you want. So, below we’ll give you tips on how to program a 3D printer.


  • Programming 3D models involve two main elements: the 3D modeling software and the printer program.
  • Some modeling software is based on graphic design, while others work by building 3D object parameters via code.
  • Certain printers can be programmed through downloaded software, but many require users to learn a specific code to perform modifications.

We also have a bunch of other helpful 3D-printer-related articles. For example, we have one that explains how to monitor a 3D printer remotely. And another explaining how to remove the supports from a 3D printer.

Insider Tip

There is special software that allows users to monitor their printers remotely.

How Do You Program a 3D Printer?

Programming a printer can go a million different ways, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. However, there is a way to break it down so you can follow some transparent best practices when programming a 3D printer.

First, it’s essential to know that programming has two main elements: the graphics and the printer itself. With both of these, there are some general tips to be aware of, which can help save valuable time in the long run.

For additional guides full of helpful tips and tricks, feel free to check out our articles covering things like how to update your 3D printer’s firmware.

Tip 1 – Know The Differences Between Graphics Design Software

When understanding how to build computer 3D designs, there is a wide range of 3D modeling programs, each catering to different talents. The primary type of graphics program allows the graphic artist to build their vision for their object via a drawing-based design system. However, some graphics programs allow those with coding expertise to build a model through a coding language instead.

For more insight on the graphic design portion of 3D printing, check out our article explaining how to create a model for printing.

Tip 2 – Choosing Printer Programming Method

Every printer uses a coding language so the machine can understand the instructions communicated from the graphics model. And to be able to successfully adjust many of the settings and parameters around the print process, users must be familiar with this code.


Always use your 3D printer in a properly ventilated space, as many of the fumes let off from the material are toxic.

However, some printers remove the need to program the printer via code by creating their own software. Once downloaded, the software can be accessed and controlled through a straightforward user interface, allowing anyone to program the printer code-free.

STAT: The average print temperature of a 3D printer’s heated nozzle is 200 Celius. (source)

How to Program 3D Printer FAQs

What is the most popular 3D printing software?

There is a handful of great 3D modeling software, but Autodesk Maya consistently ranks among the most popular.

Is there any 3D printer software available for free?

There are many free 3D modeling software options available for download. A couple of the most popular programs are TinkerCAD and Matter Control.

How do I choose the best software for my 3D prints?

Selecting the right printer software depends mainly on your experience with graphic design or coding. Some software is more oriented toward beginners and has a more accessible interface to navigate but supplies fewer features. Other programs are more complex but allow you more options creatively.
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