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Beginners Guide to 3D Printing

  • 8 min read

A CompleteBeginners Guide to3D Printing

3D printing has the power to transform the way we create, manufacture, and innovate. But what exactly is 3D printing, and how does it work? In this beginner's guide to 3D printing, we will embark on a journey to uncover the intricacies of 3D printing. We'll delve into its history, and explore its various types. Along the way, we'll also examine the different 3D printing processes, discover the wide-ranging applications and introduce software that power this transformative technology. If you're a beginner in 3D printing, we'll help you to select the right 3D printer for your needs. So, let's start our journey.

What Is3D Printing?

So, what exactly is 3D printing? 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a process that creates physical objects from digital designs. It works by layering material on top of itself, building the object layer by layer. This technology allows for complex shapes and structures, often unattainable through traditional manufacturing methods. It's used in various industries, from healthcare to aerospace, and has become increasingly accessible for hobbyists and beginners. But do you know how it starts and what the technology of 3D printing is? Keep reading to learn more.

History of3D Printing


3D printing has come a long way since its inception in the 1980s. Chuck Hull, the man behind the first 3D printer, introduced the world to Stereolithography (SLA) in 1984. This was the first process that allowed for the creation of 3D objects layer by layer from a digital file.

Over the years, 3D printing technology has evolved dramatically. From being a high-cost, industrial-only option, it has become accessible to hobbyists, small businesses, and even households. The 2010s saw a surge in popularity as patents expired, allowing for more innovation and reduced costs.

Key Milestones:

  • 1984: Introduction of Stereolithography (SLA)
  • 1990s: Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) introduced
  • 2000s: Bioprinting and metal printing emerge
  • 2010s: Expired patents lead to a boom in consumer-grade printers

3D Printing Technology

Understanding the technology can elevate your 3D printing game. Below are some of the key technologies in 3D printing.

Core Technologies

  • Additive Manufacturing: Layer-by-layer material addition. The cornerstone of 3D
  • CAD Software: Computer-Aided Design software is where your object takes its first digital breath.
  • G-Code: The language your 3Dprinter understands. Translates CAD designs into printer actions.

Material Science

  • Polymers: Most common. Includes PLA, ABS, and PETG.
  • Metals: Titanium, steel, and aluminum for industrial applications.
  • Ceramics: For specialized, high-temperature applications.

Print Quality Factors

  • Layer Height: Determines the resolution. Lower height equals finer details.
  • Infill Density: Affects the object's strength. More infill, more robust the object.
  • Print Speed: Faster isn't always better. Speed impacts quality.

Calibration and Tuning

  • Bed Leveling: Ensures the first layer adheres properly.
  • Extruder Calibration: Affects the amount of material used.
  • Temperature Settings: Different materials require different temperatures.

Advanced Features

  • Dual Extrusion: Allows for multi-material or multi-color prints.
  • Auto-Bed Leveling: Automates the tedious task of bed leveling.
  • Direct Drive vs Bowden: Two types of extruders, each with pros and cons.

Safety Measures

  • Ventilation: Essential when printing with materials like ABS.
  • Enclosure: Helps maintain temperature and contains potential fumes.
  • Emergency Stop: A must-have feature for immediate halting of the printer.

Firmware and Updates

  • Open Source vs Proprietary: Choice affects customization and updates.
  • Regular Updates: Keep your printer's firmware up-to-date for optimal performance.

Understanding the ins and outs of 3D printing technology is more than just tech jargon; it's about making your 3D printing journey smoother and more efficient.

This section is a key part of your beginners guide to 3D printing, designed to give you a solid grasp of the technology you'll be using.

3D Printing Processes

So, you've got a handle on what 3D printing is and its science. Now, let's delve into different types of 3D printing and the processes that make this technology tick.

FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)

  • Mechanism: A spool of thermoplastic filament is melted and extruded through a nozzle.
  • Layering: The nozzle moves along the X, Y, and Z axes to build the object layer by layer.
  • Cooling: Each layer cools and solidifies before the next one is added.
  • Applications: Great for prototypes, household items, and educational models.

SLA (Stereolithography)

  • Mechanism: A laser cures liquid resin in a vat.
  • Layering: The build platform moves up as each layer is cured.
  • Curing: Post-processing often involves additional UV curing.
  • Applications: Ideal for high-detail models, jewelry, and dental applications.

SLS (Selective Laser Sintering)

  • Mechanism: A laser sinters powdered material.
  • Layering: After each layer is sintered, more powder is added.
  • Cooling: The object needs to cool down in the machine before removal.
  • Applications: Suitable for functional parts, complex geometries, and small production runs.

Understanding these processes is crucial for anyone diving into the 3D printing beginners guide. Each method has its quirks, and knowing them can help you choose the right one for your task.

3D Printing Software

Choosing the right software is a crucial step in your 3D printer beginner guide. Each software type serves a specific purpose in the 3D printing workflow, which can bring your ideas to life. Here's what you need to know:

CAD Software

  • Design: Create your 3D
  • Popular Options: AutoCAD, TinkerCAD, Blender.
  • File Formats: Export in STL or OBJ for slicing.

Slicing Software

  • Preparation: Converts your 3Dmodel into printer instructions.
  • Popular Options: Cura, PrusaSlicer, MatterControl.
  • Settings: Adjust layer height, infill, and supports.

Printer Software

  • Control: Operate your 3D
  • Popular Options: Repetier-Host, OctoPrint.
  • Connectivity: Connect via USB, SD card, or Wi-Fi.

3D Printing Applications

The applications of 3D printing are diverse. Here are some major areas where this technology is making waves:


  • Prosthetics: 3D printing provides patients with prosthetic limbs that match their unique anatomy, greatly enhancing comfort and functionality.
  • Bioprinting: 3D bioprinting holds the potential to create tissues and even organs.


  • Lightweight Parts: The aerospace industry benefits from 3D printing by producing lightweight yet strong materials.
  • Complex Geometries: 3D printing creates complex parts that are hard to manufacture traditionally.

Customized Gadgets and Accessories

  • Phone Cases:3D printing allows you to design and create unique, personalized phone cases that reflect your style and preferences.
  • Headphone Stands:Crafting a customized headphone stand can keep your workspace organized while adding a touch of personality.
  • Keychains and Jewelry:You can design and print your keychains, pendants, and earrings, turning everyday items into personal statements.

Home Improvement

  • Replacement Parts:When a household item breaks, 3D printing can be a lifesaver. Printing replacement parts for appliances, furniture, or even door handles can save time and money.
  • Custom Furniture:Ambitious DIY enthusiasts can even create custom furniture pieces, from chairs to shelves, tailored to their home's unique dimensions and aesthetics.

Educational Tools

  • Science Projects:Students and educators can use 3D printing to create visual aids, models, and prototypes for science experiments and classroom demonstrations.
  • Educational Toys:3D printing opens the door to creating educational toys and puzzles that make learning more engaging for children.

How to Choose a3D Printer for Beginners?

So, you're ready to take the plunge and buy your first 3D printer. But with so many options out there, how do you choose the right one? This section aims to help you choose what's right for you.

Here are some 3D printer tips for beginners when picking out a 3D printer:


When it comes to budget, 3D printers can be as diverse as the objects they create. Knowing how much you're willing to spend can narrow down your options significantly. Here's a breakdown of what you can expect at different price ranges:

  • Under $200: These are your entry-level printers. While they won't offer the bells and whistles of more expensive models, they're good for basic projects and learning the ropes. Expect limited features and lower print quality.
  • $200 - $500: This is the sweet spot for beginners who are serious about diving into 3D You'll find printers with better speed, higher accuracy, and additional features like touchscreen controls. The AnkerMake M5C3Dprinter falls into this category, offering a balance of features and affordability.
  • $500 - $1,000: At this range, you're looking at more professional-grade options. These printers offer advanced features like dual extruders, larger build volumes, and higher resolution. They're suitable for those who have some experience and need more capabilities.
  • Above $1,000: These are the high-end models, often used for industrial purposes. They offer the highest precision, speed, and multiple functionalities like 3D Unless you're planning to go commercial or require extreme detail, these might be overkill for a beginner.

Printer Type

  • FDM: Best for beginners due to its ease of use and lower cost.
  • SLA: If you need high-detail prints and have a higher budget.
  • SLS: Not recommended for beginners due to its complexity and cost.


  • Build Volume: Consider what size of objects you'll be printing.
  • Resolution: Lower layer height means higher resolution but longer print times.
  • Connectivity: USB, SD card, or Wi-Fi—choose what's convenient for you.

Software Compatibility

  • Open Source: Allows for customization but may have a steeper learning curve.
  • Proprietary: Easier to use but may limit your options.

Reviews and Community

  • Online Reviews: Check reviews from trusted sources.
  • Forums: Websites like Reddit offer real-world advice.
  • Local Community: Join a local makerspace to get hands-on experience.

After-Sales Support

  • Warranty: Look for at least a one-year warranty.
  • Customer Service: Ensure the company has good customer support.
  • Replacement Parts: Availability of parts for future repairs.

Choosing the right 3D printer is a critical step in your 3D printing guide for beginners. If you're just stepping into the world of 3D printing, the AnkerMake M5C3D Printer should be on your radar. For starters, its multi-device control lets you manage your projects from various platforms, offering you unmatched convenience. The one-click button isn't just a feature; it's a time-saver that streamlines your printing tasks.

Speed matters, and with a high-speed printing rate of 500 mm/s, you won't be left waiting. The printer's precision of 0.1 mm ensures that what you design is what you get, down to the finest detail. And let's talk durability—the full aluminum alloy structure means this isn't a machine you'll have to replace any time soon.

It's a reliable, efficient, and user-friendly option that makes 3D printing accessible and hassle-free.

3D Printing Global Effects

You've got the basics down, from processes to applications and software. Now, let's explore the profound impact 3D printing is having on a global scale. This remarkable technology is more than just a tool for creating prototypes or personalized items; it's reshaping industries, economies, and even the way we approach sustainability and manufacturing.

Economic Impact

  • Job Creation: New roles in design, manufacturing, and software development.
  • Supply Chain: Localized production reduces shipping costs and lead times.
  • Innovation: Faster prototyping accelerates product development cycles.

Environmental Considerations

  • Sustainability: Some 3Dprinting materials are biodegradable.
  • Waste Reduction: Additive manufacturing minimizes material waste.
  • Energy Use: While 3Dprinting can be energy-intensive, ongoing research aims to make it more efficient.

Social Implications

  • Education: 3Dprinting is becoming a staple in STEM education.
  • Healthcare: Custom prosthetics and potential for bioprinting revolutionize medical treatments.
  • Accessibility: Affordable 3Dprinters make technology accessible to the general public.

Future Prospects

  • Material Science: Development of new materials for specialized applications.
  • Automation: Integration with IoT and AI for smarter manufacturing.
  • Space Exploration: NASA and other agencies explore 3Dprinting for space missions.


In this comprehensive exploration of 3D printing, we've covered everything from its fundamentals and history to its technology, processes, software, applications, and global impacts. If you're inspired to embark on your own 3D printing journey, you now have a solid foundation to dive into this exciting and transformative world of possibilities.


Is3D printing beginner-friendly?

3D printing can be beginner-friendly, but it comes with a learning curve. Entry-level 3D printers are more accessible than ever, and there is a wealth of online resources, tutorials, and user-friendly software available. However, newcomers may initially face challenges related to printer setup, troubleshooting, and understanding design software.

Is it expensive to3D print for beginners?


Cost can vary. Entry-level printers are budget-friendly. The real expense can be in materials and maintenance. However, with proper research, 3D printing can be quite economical.

How much does it cost to start3D printing?

Expect to spend around $200-$300 for a decent entry-level printer. Add in the cost of materials, which can range from $20-$50 per spool, and you're looking at an initial investment of around $300-$400.