How Does A 3D Printer Work

It's sounds a lot more complex than it really is...

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How does a 3D printer work?

A 3D printer works just like a traditional inkjet printer, only it has been modified to print in 3D, with filament instead of ink.
Basically, a 3D printer will print a design by creating the model layer by layer, building it on a bed surface from the bottom up, by depositing filament in certain places. This method is known as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM).

The 3D printer works automatically, as it is connected to a computer that has the appropriate programming to direct the nozzle so that it deposits the material in the right spots for the right amount of time so that the result is the design that has been chosen and instructed.
So, essentially, the 3D printer is drawing many different two-dimensional cross-sectional layers, one on top of the other, using filaments of material, so that volume is slowly added and the model is created.

The filaments that the 3D printer uses instead of ink. Are molten plastic, fused together with either adhesive or with ultraviolet light. There are many different types of filament used in 3D printing, depending on the end result desired.

So, put in simpler terms, the 3D printer draws the model in material filament, over and over, slowly adding volume, so that the full model is created from the base up in multiple different layers. This also means that the bigger the model, the longer it will take because the more layers it will need. And something similar works for detail, as the more detailed the model is, the more layers it will also need in order to get them right.

What are the pros and cons of using a 3D printer?

3D printers can be incredibly useful, and with more and more types of 3D printers becoming available, they are slowly also becoming accessible for at-home use. But are 3D printers really all that good?

Like everything, they have advantages and disadvantages. So if you are wondering whether it is actually worth you getting one, here is a list of all the main pros and cons that we could think of when it comes to 3D printing!


  • More flexible designs:
    With traditional processes in manufacturing, there are more restrictions that limit the design options. However, with 3D printing, it is a lot easier to experiment with more complex designs, and the possibilities are endless!
  • Prototyping:
    One of the main pros of 3D printing is the speed at which 3D printers can produce models and prototypes of objects, making them perfect for rapid prototyping and quick adjustments or modifications.
  • On-demand printing:
    As 3D printing can produce models and objects a lot faster than with traditional manufacturing methods, there is no need to constantly be in production and store away the extra. Instead, the items can be produced on-demand, fast and easy, which saves on storage and more.
  • Lightweight models:
    There are different materials and types of filaments that can be used with 3D printing, but as a general rule, 3D printing uses plastic. And the main pro of this is that it is super lightweight!
  • Strong results:
    It might seem as though 3D printed objects are weaker or more fragile, but in reality, they are surprisingly strong if printed properly. The items produced can also be highly resistant to various temperatures, be water-repellant, and can have an overall strong build.
  • Fast production:
    One of the main advantages of 3D printing is how fast it can produce objects. This allows for faster production and a higher rate of efficiency.
  • Very cost-effective:
    3D printers, as of today, are still pretty expensive to buy, and the filaments can also be costly. However, as a whole, the actual process of creating models with a 3D printer is extremely cost-effective. Fewer materials are used during the manufacturing process, less labor is required, and less time.
  • Minimal waste:
    In 3D printing, the model is created layer by layer with the filament of material, meaning only the amount of materials necessary is used. This significantly reduces the amount of waste during the process, which is minimal.
  • Environmentally friendly:
    As 3D printing causes minimal wastage of materials, it is a lot more environmentally friendly than other traditional methods of manufacturing.


  • Limited materials:
    There are many different types of materials and filaments that can be used with 3D printing, however, it is still limited. Many more can be used with other methods of manufacturing.
  • The building size is restricted to the printer size:
    3D printers come in all sizes, and some industrial-grade 3D printers can be pretty large. Nevertheless, the building size will always be restricted by the printer in question, limiting the models.
  • Post-processing:
    Once a 3D printed object has been printed, it isn’t quite finished. It needs to go through post-processing, in order to be perfected and smoothed out before being put out into the world. This adds time and sometimes cost to the process.


Andrew is one of three co-founders of BGFG, the parent company of PC Guide. A keen gamer and PC enthusiast, Andrew dabbles in a bit of writing sometimes - when he gets the chance to!