How a 3D Printer Works

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

Imagine this — you need to distribute several hard copies of your project proposal. Rather than typing each word again, the smartest thing to do is to print the number of copies you need. From a single digital file, you can simply select the printer you’ll use, specify the page number to print, and set how many copies you need. You can even adjust its size, color, and print quality.

3D printers follow a similar concept.

But instead of producing two-dimensional images and words on paper, 3D printers can create three-dimensional objects. This means an object with depth, volume, and solidity. It’s something you can hold and use, just like the gadget you’re using right now to read this article.

How 3D Printer Works

Of course, the explanation above only gives you a glimpse of the capabilities of 3D printers. To help you better understand how a 3D printer works, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of how you can create an object using this machine.

Creating the digital file

There are two main ways to create a digital file: 3D scanning and 3D designing.

  • 3D scanning

  • 3D scanning is the process of capturing the details of an object and turning it into a digital model. It uses a gadget called a 3D scanner.

    You can think of it as a camera and the images it captures. Instead of sketching an object manually, you can simply upload it to your document. Then you’re free to edit it as you like before printing. It’s easy as pie; you don’t even need to be artistic to finish this task.

    Like cameras, 3D scanners capture the shape of an object, a person, a landscape, or a building using sensors and laser lights. After collecting the item’s “point clouds”, you can have a digital three-dimensional model that you can edit and print.

    Despite giving you the object’s 3D representation, 3D scans may still have some imperfection or you still need to tweak some designs. This brings us to the second method called 3D designing.

  • 3D designing

  • 3D designing (or 3D modeling) is the process of creating the digital 3D drawing of an object. It lets you either start from scratch or polish your 3D scans.

    It uses computer-aided design (CAD) software. Depending on the object you plan to create and its application, you can use one of the following 3D modeling techniques: polygonal modeling, parametric modeling, and digital sculpting.

    When saving your design, make sure it’s either in STL, OBJ, AMF, or any format suitable for 3D printing.

Printing the object

3D printers work by layering molted materials until it becomes physical object.

Material extrusion is the common process most 3D printers use, especially for fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printers. It heats materials until it turns into a liquid form. After this, the printer extrudes the liquefied material through the print nozzle. The nozzle deposits the material in thin layers and once it solidifies, the nozzle extrudes another layer on top. This process continues until it finishes printing the design.

3D printers use different materials which depend on the type of printer you’re using. FDM 3D printers, for example, use filaments while SLA printers use resin. For more information about 3D printers in the Philippines, you can check out this guide.

But wait, do 3D printers use a lot of electricity? It depends on the model you’re using. Each 3D model has a different power rating so it’s best to check it to figure out how much your 3D printer consumes electricity. But in general, standard 3D printers use around 50 watts per hour.


Most prints don’t look perfect yet after printing. For this reason, most 3D prints require post-processing to improve the object’s aesthetics, strength, and other key properties.

Post-processing commonly includes the following:

  • Removal of support
  • Sanding
  • Gluing (combining multiple 3D printer parts)
  • Priming
  • Painting
  • Polishing

Through post-processing, you can achieve how the object should look like.

Let MakerCarl Do the Job

Do you need to 3D print anything but you don’t have a 3D printer yet? Let MakerCarl do it for you. With over 80 printers and talented artists, we can assure you of quality prints you can’t find anywhere else.

Contact us today to learn more information about our end-to-end 3D printing service.