3D Printing

What Is 3D Printing?

At its most basic, 3D printing is a manufacturing process in which material is laid down, layer by layer, to form a three-dimensional object. (This is deemed an additive process because the object is built from scratch, as opposed to subtractive processes in which material is cut, drilled, milled, or machined off.) Although 3D printers employ a variety of materials (such as plastic or metal) and techniques (see "How Does 3D Printing Work?" below), they share the ability to turn digital files containing three-dimensional data—whether created on a computer-aided design (CAD) or computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) program, or from a 3D scanner—into physical objects.

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