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Basic guide to get started....










3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file.

The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.

3D printing is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing which is cutting out / hollowing out a piece of metal or plastic with for instance a milling machine.

3D printing enables you to produce complex (functional) shapes using less material than traditional manufacturing methods.

How Does 3D Printing Work?

It all starts with the creation of a 3D model in your computer. This digital design is for instance a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file. A 3D model is either created from the ground up with 3D modelling software or based on data generated with a

3D scanner. With a 3D scanner you’re able to create a digital copy of an object.

Learn How to 3D Print – Where to Start?

Getting started with 3D printing means asking yourself what you would like to learn first. Are you interested in the hardware, or do you want to focus on the end result – creating objects? Answering this question could lead you to the decision if whether you should buy a pre-assembled 3D Printer or a DIY 3D Printer kit. Read more in our ‘3D Printers for Beginners buyers’ guide.

Examples & Applications of 3D Printing

Applications include rapid prototyping, architectural scale models & maquettes, 3D printed prosthetics and movie props.

Other examples of 3D printing would include reconstructing fossils in palaeontology, replicating ancient artefacts in archaeology, reconstructing bones and body parts in forensic pathology and reconstructing heavily damaged evidence acquired from crime scene investigations.


Educators and students have long been using 3D printers in the classroom. 3D printing enables students to materialize their ideas in a fast and affordable way.


Here Are The Steps Involved in 3D Printing:

#1 CAD File Development

In order to produce a 3D object you first have to have its virtual design. This is to be done using the Computer Aided Design (CAD) software. Through this the exact dimensions of the objects considered and simulated to see how the object will behave under various conditions.

#2 CAD File Conversions

Once the CAD file is developed, the next thing one has to consider is converting it into specific file formats. The file formats are specified based on the technology of printing being employed by that particular 3D printer. For instance, the CAD file has to be converted into a STL (standard tessellation language) if the printer is based on the stereo lithography technique.

#3 STL File Manipulation

Now that the STL format file is ready with you, all your computer now needs is a 3D printer which can print using the stereo lithography technique. But before this, users will have to set the orientation and size of the object to be printed. This is similar to the case of a 2D printer.

#4 Preparing the Printer

Now that everything about the digital file is ready, you need to make sure the 3D printer is ready as well. This means installing properly the polymers, binders and other material which are necessary to perform a print operation. Once all such requirements are met, you are almost ready to print.

#5 The Building Up

Once the process has started, it is now all about patience. These printers aren’t as faster as the 2D printers. Based on the complexity of the object to be printed, the span of printing varies. Simply all that one has to do is wait and perform random checks to make sure everything is being done flawlessly.

Since the entire construction of the object is in form of very thin layers, it definitely is going to take some time.

#6 Post Processing Stuff

Once the entire process is done and the object is ready, make sure you handle it carefully. Any actions in haste could prove to be costly. So right from putting on some gloves to bring the object out of the printer to brushing off any residual powder, everything is to be handled carefully.

And that’s it! If your CAD file is perfect and the post processing part is well executed, then you’ll have it; your first 3D printed object.

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Fused Deposition modelling (FDM)