A Comprehensive Guide of 3d printing for beginners

A Comprehensive Guide of 3d printing for beginners


The realm of 3D printing has revolutionized the way we create and manufacture objects. From hobbyists to industrial giants, the versatility and potential of 3D printing are being harnessed globally. This article delves into the fascinating world of 3D printing, addressing essential questions to provide a comprehensive guide for beginners.

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a process that creates a physical object from a digital design. Unlike traditional manufacturing methods, which often involve subtracting material from a larger block, 3D printing adds material layer by layer to form the final product. This innovative technology enables the creation of complex shapes and structures that would be difficult or impossible to achieve with conventional methods. So, 3D printing is often used in the space and automotive industries. Without the need for molds or expensive machinery, 3D printing offers a significant cost advantage for small-batch production. As demand for personalization grows, 3D printing is playing an increasingly important role in various industries. Both companies and individuals are turning to 3D printers to create customized products.

3D printing encompasses various techniques, including Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Stereolithography (SLA), and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), etc. Each method has its unique advantages and applications:

  • FDM: Widely used for hobbyist and prototyping applications due to its affordability and ease of use. This type of 3D printer feeds plastic filament into the nozzle, where it is melted and extruded to create layers of material, building the object layer by layer.
  • SLA: Known for producing high-resolution and smooth surface finishes, ideal for detailed models. There are three different way to cure the liquid resin depend on exposure method. The 405nm light UV irradiation onto resin and cure the resin layer by layer. 
  • SLS: Utilized in industrial settings for creating strong and durable parts, often with complex geometries. This technology is used exclusively in professional 3D printers. The materials used are powders, which are then sintered with a laser to form a dense model.

How Much Does a 3D Printer Cost?

The cost of a 3D printer varies significantly based on its type, features, and intended use. Here's a breakdown of different price ranges:

  • Entry-Level (Under $500): Basic FDM printers suitable for beginners and educational purposes. Popular models in this range include the Creality Ender 3 and Anycubic i3 Mega. The price of most resin 3D printers are also in this range.
  • Mid-Range ($500 - $2000): More advanced FDM printers and some SLA printers, offering better print quality, larger build volumes, and additional features like automatic bed leveling. Examples include the Prusa i3 MK3S+ and the Elegoo Jupiter.
  • High-End (Above $2000): Professional and industrial-grade printers, including high-resolution SLA and SLS machines, designed for precision and reliability. Notable models include the Formlabs Form 3 and the Ultimaker S5.

While the initial cost of a 3D printer is an important consideration, ongoing expenses for materials (filaments, resins, etc.), maintenance, and potential upgrades should also be factored into the budget. With technological advancements, entry-level 3D printers now perfectly meet the needs of beginners. At the same time, many companies and research institutions are using consumer-grade 3D printers like the Bambu Lab P1P and X1 Carbon for mass production and scientific research.

What Language Does a 3D Printer Use?

3D printers primarily use a language called G-code to interpret and execute the instructions for creating an object. G-code is a standard programming language for CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines and is composed of a series of commands that control the movement, speed, and actions of the printer.

The process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Design: Create a 3D model using CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software such as Tinkercad, Fusion 360, or Blender.
  2. Slicing: Convert the 3D model into a G-code file using slicing software like Cura, PrusaSlicer, or Simplify3D. The slicer translates the model into layers and generates the corresponding G-code commands.
  3. Printing: Transfer the G-code file to the 3D printer via USB, SD card, or Wi-Fi. The printer then reads the G-code and builds the object layer by layer.

Understanding G-code is not typically necessary for casual users, as slicing software handles the generation of these commands. However, advanced users may benefit from learning G-code to fine-tune their prints and troubleshoot issues.

What is the Point of Having a 3D Printer?

The advantages of owning a 3D printer are manifold, catering to various interests and industries:

  • Prototyping and Product Development: Rapidly create prototypes to test designs, functionality, and fit before committing to mass production.
  • Customization: Produce personalized items, from bespoke jewelry and custom phone cases to tailor-made prosthetics and orthotics.
  • Education: Enhance learning experiences in STEM fields by providing hands-on opportunities to understand concepts in engineering, mathematics, and design.
  • Creativity and Hobbies: Bring artistic and creative ideas to life, such as miniatures, models, and sculptures.
  • Repair and Maintenance: Manufacture replacement parts or tools that may be difficult to find or expensive to purchase.

The versatility of 3D printing opens up endless possibilities, limited only by one's imagination and creativity.

Do I Need a Computer to Use a 3D Printer?

While having a computer is highly beneficial for designing and preparing files for 3D printing, it is not strictly necessary for the printing process itself. Here’s how different stages of 3D printing can be managed:

  • Designing: Most CAD and slicing software run on computers, allowing you to create and prepare your 3D models. Tablets with appropriate apps can also be used for designing.
  • Slice: Import STL or other format files into slice software, set the 3D printing parameters depend on your 3D printer and material. Export the G-code file on computer.
  • Transferring Files: Once the G-code file is generated, it can be transferred to the printer via an SD card, USB drive, or even wirelessly. Some advanced 3D printers feature built-in screens and onboard software to facilitate direct printing without a computer.
  • Monitoring: Printers with network connectivity enable remote monitoring and control via smartphones or tablets, providing flexibility and convenience.

Ultimately, a computer simplifies the process and expands your capabilities, but the necessity depends on the complexity of your projects and the features of your 3D printer.

What Do I Need to Have a 3D Printer?

Setting up for 3D printing involves more than just the printer itself. Here’s a list of essential and supplementary items to consider:

  • Printer: Choose a model that fits your needs and budget.
  • Filament or Resin: Depending on your printer type, stock up on materials for printing.
  • Tools: Basic tools like pliers, scrapers, tweezers, and a hobby knife are useful for cleaning and finishing prints.
  • Build Surface: Print surfaces like glass beds, PEI sheets, or adhesive mats enhance adhesion and ease of part removal.
  • Software: CAD software for designing and slicing software for generating G-code.
  • Workspace: A dedicated area with good ventilation, stable surface, and adequate lighting.
  • Safety Gear: Gloves, masks, and safety glasses, especially when working with resins or handling high-temperature components.

Additional accessories such as enclosures for temperature control and filament storage solutions to keep materials dry can further enhance your 3D printing experience.


3D printing is a transformative technology that brings digital designs to life, offering endless possibilities for innovation, creativity, and practical applications. Whether you're a hobbyist, educator, or entrepreneur, understanding the fundamentals of 3D printing equips you with the knowledge to explore its full potential. With the right printer and tools, you can embark on a journey of discovery, creating objects limited only by your imagination.

Investing in a 3D printer opens up a world of opportunities, enabling you to prototype, customize, and innovate in ways previously unimaginable. By following this guide, beginners can make informed decisions and start their 3D printing adventure with confidence.

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