How does a 3D printer work?  – The major components of a 3D printer and their technicalities

How does a 3D printer work?  – The major components of a 3D printer and their technicalities

Big changes take a generation. The young ones are to fully embrace the change and take progress forward. 3D printers are the sign of this happening today. Today 3D printing is a key that is emerging and reshaping the design and manufacturing process.

In order to buy 3D printer, one has to learn certain basics. The knowledge of working of the printer and its components are essential to choose the right printer in the market

How does a 3 – D printer work?

The process of prototyping in the 3 – D printer starts with the home PC. The user gives print command from the PC.

The 3 – D printing turns the object to be printed into thousands of tiny little pieces. This is done by the program set in the printer. This is similar to slicing a bread loaf.

The building process then begins from the bottom – up slice by slice. The complexity differs from layer to layer. Some layer might possess moving parts like hinges or wheels.

Molds of plastic, powders are used as building materials. The materials are in loose form or solid. Certain printers like the commercial 3D printers use the technology of the electron beam melting and selective laser melting wherein the plastics are heated by the beams (laser beam or electron beam). The filament then works on to from the shape. This is similar to the work of the statue artist.

Controller Board

  • It is referred to as motherboard or mainboard. It is the brain of the 3D printer.
  • It directs the motion components. The directions are based on the instruction from the computer the printer is connected with
  • The quality of the controller has great influence on the overall performance of the printer.


This is equivalent to the ink used in regular 2D printer. It comes in a spool. The spool is loaded into the spool holder. There are different types of filaments. Every filament has its own properties and pros and cons.

Some filaments are capable of printing all sort of materials. Others can work only on PLA – Poly Lactic Acid.

Most of these 3D printers are using Laser marking and print anything in 3D view. They are the future of printing.


It is the chassis of 3D printers. It holds all the components of the printer together. They are generally made of metal or acrylic. 3D printers with metal frames are recommended. This is because they are more stable and durable as well.

Certain 3D printers like those of industrial 3D printer have specially designed frames that protect the components from dust and other particles.

Motion components

These components are responsible for the 3D printer to move in all 3 axes. They are as follows

  • Stepper motor – They drive the print bed, print head and the threaded rods. They help to make full rotation in increment steps
  • Belts – they help with the movement in Z – axis. It also helps to move side to side in X axis and Y axis.

Threaded rods – They are also used to help with the movement. Functions of belts and threaded rods are the same. A 3D printer either uses belt of threaded rods for movement.