How Does 3D Printing Work?

If you’ve ever seen the TV series DCs Legends of tomorrow, you might be able to get an overview of how 3D printing works.

This futuristic fictional show used a device fashioned by the AI 'Gideon' aboard the Waverider to virtually create anything from food to clothes.

3D printing or additive manufacturing is quite similar to Gideon's contraption.

Instead of manipulating subatomic particles to render three dimensional objects as , 3D printers “print” out materials in successive layers to form an object.

What is a 3D printer?

3D printers are the Generation X machines that can produce everyday objects from ceramic cups to plastic toys, and more. You could even make human body parts, and 3D printers are even used today to make compnents of jet engines - so yes, the possibilities are endless.

​How Does It work?

3D printers use the printing technology in a unique way. While you may want to compare it with the traditional form of printing, it isn't exactly so. Here is how it works.


This is done by making a 3D printable model of the object you want to create. This can be achieved using one of the following methods:

  • A 3D modelling application such as the computer
  • aided design (CAD) program
  • A 3D scanner
  • A plain digital camera and photogrammetry software.


​The 3D printer will build up one layer of the 3D model at a time, starting from the bottom, and repeat the process till the model is built in real time - something we know of as fused depositional modelling (FDM).

The 3Dprinter will create a3D CAD drawing into something real - by adding in sectional layers, where the 2 prints sit on top of the other.

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