3D printing or additive manufacturing is a new-age manufacturing process that facilitates the production of solid three-dimensional objects through a series of stages. 3D printers produce objects physically by gathering inputs from three-dimensional digital models. They build the object or model physically by depositing material or filament layer by layer according to the digital 3D model. However, the printing process varies across 3D printing technologies.

A 3D printer builds the desired object or item by interpreting the digital 3D model. The digital model prepared by you needs to be sliced or prepped to provide the 3D printer with the required information and instructions. The 3D printer will build the object physically by depositing a single layer of material at a time according to the sliced 3D model. But you must remember that each type of 3D printer builds the object physically in a specific way.

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a multistage process. An object or item is 3D-printed in three important stages – preparation/pre-processing, building, and finishing/post-processing. In the pre-processing stage, the digital file is prepared and processed based on which the 3D printer will print the item. The 3D printer builds the object in the building stage by depositing filament layer by layer according to the digital file. Finally, the 3D-printed item is removed from the support structure and cleaned or painted during the post-processing or finishing stage.

You can use a 3D printer to produce physical objects of varying shapes and sizes from digital 3D models. But you cannot use a single 3D printer to produce items of varying types and sizes. You must keep in mind the build volume to choose and use the right 3D printer.

Some 3D printing technologies are faster than others. Hence, the printing time will vary according to your choice of 3D printing technology. Also, the size and shape of the object will impact the 3D printing time directly. For instance, you will need more time to 3D print a larger item than a smaller item.

You have the option to choose from a wide range of 3D printing technologies according to the precise needs of the item to be 3D-printed. Each 3D printing technology forms the solid three-dimensional object by depositing and curing filament in a specific way. That is why; you must keep in mind the differences between like Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Stereolithography (SLA), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Digital Light Processing (DLP), and Selective Laser Melting (SLM).

You have the option to choose from a wide range of industrial and desktop 3D printers. Industrial 3D printers are more expensive than consumer 3D printers. You can buy one of the basic 3D printer models by spending less than Eur 200. But you have to spend more to buy high-end and sophisticated 3D printers.