What is 3D Printing and How Does it Work

We loved Johannes Gutenberg for inventing 2D printing which reigned over the years and served its time well, but now it’s time for a new successor. 3D printing.

Yes, you heard me correctly. 3D printing.

3d printing machine

The first 3D printer was created by a man named Charles W. Hulls in 1980. When 3D printing was invented, it took the world by storm and is only advancing each year. There are so many benefits of 3D printing that can accommodate us with the world around us and continues to change lives.

What is 3D Printing

What is 3D printing? Well, 3D printing is the process of making or taking a digital model and printing it out typically by laying down many thin layers of a material in succession.

Got it?


Okay, in other words, 3D printing is when you take a 3D object that you made or designed digitally, and then you can actually send it to a special printer, and this special printer prints it out in the real world.

process of 3D printing

Neat right?

How Does it Work

I will make this easy for you, don’t worry. If you are new to 3D printing, you might have a hard time wrapping your mind around this concept. Trust me, I felt the same way.

But it is actually pretty simple. If you are a graphic designer, engineer, archaeologist, or any creator of the sort, chances are, you know a little bit about 3D printing.

SO, for example.

You go into 3D modeling software such as Fusion 360 or Autodesk Maya to name a few. You design whatever object you desire in the interface and then you prepare your model to be sent off to the 3D printer.

3D model designing

Your model might need some support or need to be cleaned up a little more so before we get into that though, let’s talk about some materials that are used in 3D modeling.

FDM & Understanding Materials

FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) is a type of additive manufacturing technology that enables the construction of three-dimensional objects, prototypes and products through a computer-aided or driven manufacturing process. It is used in 3-D printing or the design of solid models and prototypes in a layered or additive approach.

There are other materials as well used in 3D printing.

  • PLA
  • PVA
  • ABS


PLA or Polylactic Acid is a popular material and is basically a default choice for most 3D printers that are extrusion-based. PLA does not require a heated bed and if you are a noob to 3D printing, well PLA is a great material to use when you are first learning 3D printing. Why? Because not only is it inexpensive but it is environmentally friendly!

pla material for 3d printing


PVA or Polyvinyl Alcohol is soft and very sensitive to moisture. The cool thing about this material is that when it’s exposed to water it will dissolve. This makes it a wonderful support structure material for 3D printing.Sometimes regular supports are difficult to remove.

3d printer working


ABS or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (please just say ABS) is another popular material thanks to low cost and its mechanical properties. ABS is tough and prints durable parts that will hold up. Also, it was one of the first plastics to be used with industrial 3D printers. Heard of the LEGO building blocks? Yep. They are made from this material but they use injection molding instead of 3d printing

ABS material used in 3D printing

It is important to have open space and good ventilation when using ABS. There is a slight smell when using this material and it can withstand very high temperatures before it begins to transform.

So what can be 3D printed?

Anything under the sun. As long as you have an imagination and as long you are living in the real world. I can name a few things that 3D printers can definitely make.

  • Food
  • Everyday items
  • Sculptures
  • Medical needs
  • organs
  • prototypes
  • Character designs
  • prosthetics
  • Gun
  • Car Parts
  • shoes
  • body parts
  • artifacts

As I said before, anything under the sun. Medical professionals use 3D printing as a way to provide prototypes for their patients-artificial organs such as kidneys which can be made by laying down layers of cells.

3d printing product

If you need a part for an object you own and can’t find it on the market you can turn to 3D printing. If it is a metal part, it could be done by cnc machining. You can even use this innovative 3d printing process to reconstruct models or artifacts that historians had over the years but maybe a part of it got destroyed.

Printing in 3D makes our lives easier and many industries such as jewelry making, teaching, medical industry and housing will all benefit in great ways, so this technology is here to develop and stay for long, long time.