How to Upload Files to a 3D Printer

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Updated March 21, 2023

The best 3D printers can only run if they have a file containing a print design. Knowing how to upload files to a 3D printer requires downloading the file from the computer’s slicer software and transferring it to the printer using an SD card. Thankfully, the best printers make this a relatively painless process.


  • To run a 3D print job, you need to download a file from your CAD software onto the printer.
  • The two most common file types for 3D printing are STL and OBJ.
  • To upload a file, download it to an SD card via a USB adapter and insert it into your 3D printer.

If you want to learn more about how to use a 3D printer, feel free to check out more of our helpful articles. For example, we have an article on how to update your 3D printer firmware.

Insider Tip

The default setting for angular tolerance is 15 degrees, and keeping it at this level is often recommended.

How to Send Files to a 3D Printer

Three-dimensional printers translate a design from a computer file into mechanical movement. Therefore, before being able to print, you need the correct file.

3D printers take a handful of different files. However, the most common;y accepted are STL, OBJ, and AMF. Each type has its advantages and drawbacks/ For example, STL has extensive compatibility but is restricted in its ability to communicate fine details.

Regardless of the type of file you use, it needs to be uploaded to the 3D printer from a computer before printing. But the good news is that after you’ve gone through the process of creating the print model on your modeling program and uploading it to your 3D printer’s computer software, the process of transferring that file to the printer is super easy.

STEP 1 Prepare the Resolution and other Parameters

  1. While in the slicer app, adjust properties like the chord height and angles.
  2. Ensure that all parameters are input before you export the file from your CAD software.


Avoid putting the SD card upside down when attempting to upload a file.

STEP 2 Download the File to an SD Card

  1. After fully finishing your print model in the slicer software, plug an SD card into your computer using a USB adapter.
  2. Then, on your slicer software, select the option to “save to removable device.” Here, you’ll be able to select which type of file you want.
  3. Next, wait for a notification to “eject” your USB stick.

STEP 3 Upload and Select File

  1. Remove the SD card from the USB adapter and insert it into the printer.
  2. Then, navigate to the printer’s menu on the LCD screen.
  3. Select the option to open the files contained within the inserted SD card.
  4. Then press the option to print from the SD card.
  5. Finally, find and select the correct file t begin the printing process.

STAT: Some experts suggest that exporting STL files with a .001mm chord angle leads to the best results. (source)

How to Upload Files to a 3D Printers FAQs

What is CAD modeling?

The acronym stands for “Computer-Aided Design.” The program allows a designer or engineer to develop a prototype digitally before bringing it to the print stage.

What is the cheapest type of 3D printer?

The most affordable printers will either be filament-based units, like an FLM, or basic resin printers, like an SLA.

Which is the best 3D printing file type?

Selecting a 3D print file type depends mainly on what your printer accepts and your priorities. However, Microsoft’s new 3MF file type garners much praise for its high-quality and broad compatibility.
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