How to print 3D models: A beginner’s guide

How to print 3D models: A beginner’s guide

Have you ever wondered how to print 3D models? If you’re new to the world of 3D printing, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. But don’t worry, in this comprehensive guide, we will explain everything you need to know about how to print 3D models at home.

How to print 3D models

What Are 3D Models and How Are They Printed?

3D models are digital files that represent objects in three dimensions. They can be designs of mechanical parts, action figures, toys, jewelry, home decor, and much more. 3D printing is the process of turning those files into physical objects using a 3D printer.


To print 3D models, you first need to find files in STL format, which is the most commonly used format in 3D printing. You can find 3D models on specialized websites, online communities, free or paid 3D model libraries. Some popular sites are Thingiverse, Cults3D, MyMiniFactory, and many more. Once you find the model you want to print, download it and save it on your computer.

What Do You Need to Print 3D Models?

To print 3D models, you will need a 3D printer and filament or resin, which is the material used to create 3D printed objects. You will also need slicing software, which prepares the 3D model to be printed in layers. Some popular programs are Cura, Simplify3D, PrusaSlicer y Chitubox, among others.


STL files are the most common form of 3D model files. To print an STL file, you’ll need a 3D printer and slicing and laminating software. The software cuts the model into layers and creates a file that the printer can understand. Once you have the file, set up the print settings and start the print.

The 3D printing process may vary depending on the printer and software you use, but generally involves the following steps:

Import the STL file into the slicing software.

To print an STL file, you must first import it into a slicing software. This software divides the object into layers and generates a set of instructions that the 3D printer can follow to build the object layer by layer. Some of the most popular slicing software programs are Cura, Simplify3D, PrusaSlicer, and Chitubox.

Set up print settings, such as layer height, print speed, filament temperature, and other adjustments.

Before starting the print, you need to configure the print settings according to your needs and preferences. Some of the settings that can be configured are layer height, print speed, filament temperature, infill density, among others. These settings may vary depending on the type of filament you are using and the object you want to print.

Generate the print file (usually in G-code format) that will be sent to the 3D printer.

Once you have imported the STL file and configured the print settings, you need to generate the print file in G-code format. This file contains the instruction code that the 3D printer needs to build the object layer by layer. The slicing software is responsible for generating this file, and once you have it, you can send it to the 3D printer.

Load the print file into the 3D printer and start the print.

Once you have the print file in G-code format, you need to load it into the 3D printer and start the print. The process of loading the file may vary depending on the 3D printer model you have, but in general, it is a simple and quick process. Once you have loaded the file, you can start the print.

Wait patiently as the 3D printer creates your 3D model layer by layer.

Once you have started the print, you must wait patiently while the 3D printer builds the object layer by layer. The duration of the printing process depends on the size and complexity of the object you are printing, as well as the print settings you have previously configured.

Carefully remove the printed object once the print is complete.

Once the print is complete, you need to carefully remove the printed object from the print platform. It is important to be careful when removing the object to avoid damaging it. Depending on the type of printer and material you have used, you may need to wait for the object to cool down before removing it and may require cleaning and post-processing.

How to Print with FDM

FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) is a 3D printing method that uses thermoplastic filament to create objects. This method is commonly used in homes, small businesses, and industry due to its ease of use and relatively low cost.


Printing begins with the creation of a 3D model in modeling software, which must be saved as an STL file. Then, the STL file must be imported into the slicing and laminating software, such as Cura or Simplify3D, where the model is prepared for printing.

During printing, the filament is heated and then deposited in layers to form the object. The 3D printer uses a nozzle to extrude the filament and deposit it layer by layer on the print platform.

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FDM printer


Before starting the print, it is important to configure the appropriate print settings. Print settings include layer height, print speed, filament temperature, infill, and other settings that may vary depending on the model and printer used.

Layer height refers to the vertical thickness of each print layer. The higher the layer height, the faster the printing process, but the quality of the final object may be affected.

Print speed refers to the speed at which the 3D printer moves the nozzle during printing. Print speed can also affect the quality of the final object and it is important to adjust it properly.

Filament temperature is one of the most important settings in FDM printing, as it is the appropriate temperature that allows the filament to melt and flow properly. It is important to check the recommended temperature from the filament manufacturer.

Finally, it is recommended that the printer has a heated bed to ensure that the model adheres properly during printing. The heated bed warms up to a suitable temperature so that the filament adheres correctly and stays in place during printing.


One of the main advantages of FDM printing is the wide variety of materials available for printing, including PLA, ABS, PETG, nylon, and many more filaments. In addition, FDM printers are relatively affordable and easy to use, making them a good option for beginners.

However, there are also some drawbacks to FDM printing. One of the limitations is the surface quality of the print, as it can sometimes have imperfections and visible layers. Additionally, the print accuracy may be affected by factors such as filament quality, temperature, and print speed.

How to Print with Resin

Resin printing is a technique that uses UV light to solidify liquid resin and create detailed and smooth objects. To print with resin, you will need a resin 3D printer and slicing software that converts the model into layers to be printed. Once you have the file, configure the print settings and start the print.


Resin printing uses different technology than FDM printing. Instead of using filament, resin 3D printers use a liquid resin that solidifies when exposed to UV light. Resin 3D printers are capable of creating objects with higher detail quality than FDM printers.

Types of Resin 3D Printers

There are two main types of resin 3D printers: LCD printers and DLP printers. Both types work similarly, using UV light to solidify the liquid resin, but they use different methods to project the UV light onto the resin.

LCD printers use an LCD screen to block UV light where the resin is not intended to solidify. The LCD screen acts as a mask, blocking light in areas that are not part of the model.

DLP printers use a projector to emit UV light directly onto the resin. The light is focused through a lens to create a high-resolution image on the resin’s surface, allowing greater precision in creating details.

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Resin printer


The process of preparing a model for resin printing is similar to FDM printing. Once you have the STL file of the model you want to print, you will need slicing software to prepare the model for printing. This software converts the model into layers that will be printed one by one. Some examples of slicing software for resin 3D printers include Chitubox, PreForm, and Lychee Slicer.


After importing the STL file into the slicing software, you will need to configure the print settings. These settings may vary depending on the printer model and the type of resin used. Some important settings include layer height, print speed, resolution, resin temperature, and UV light exposure. It is important to follow the printer and resin manufacturer’s recommendations to achieve the best possible results.


Once you have configured the print settings, you can start the resin print. As with FDM printing, the resin 3D printer will create the object layer by layer. During the printing process, it is important to ensure that the print platform is leveled correctly and that the model is securely attached to prevent movement during printing.


Once the print is complete, the print platform will lift, and the printed object will be exposed. The unsolidified liquid resin can be cleaned off with isopropyl alcohol. Then, the printed object should be carefully removed from the print platform and rinsed with water. Once the object is dry, it can be sanded and polished for a smooth and shiny finish.


Although resin printing can create objects with a high level of detail and smoothness, it also has some drawbacks. One of the main disadvantages is the cost, as resin 3D printers tend to be more expensive than FDM printers. Additionally, resin is more expensive than filament, increasing the cost per printed object.

Another drawback is the smell that can be emitted from the liquid resin during the printing process. Some users may find this smell unpleasant or even irritating to the eyes and skin. Moreover, resin is toxic, so it is important to handle it with care and follow the manufacturer’s safety recommendations.

Tips for Successful 3D Printing

Here are some additional tips to ensure your 3D printing is successful:

  • Calibrate your 3D printer regularly to ensure good print quality.
  • Use a heated bed adhesive (such as Kapton tape or gluestick) to help the model adhere to the print platform.
  • Make sure you have enough material (filament or resin) for the print, as some prints may require a significant amount of material.
  • Check the model during printing to detect possible errors.

By following this guide and considering the additional tips, you’ll be well on your way to successfully printing your own 3D models. Remember to be patient and practice, as 3D printing can be a learning process. With time and experience, you’ll become more comfortable with the process and be able to create a wide range of 3D objects. Happy printing!


Both FDM and resin printing have their advantages and disadvantages and are suitable for different types of objects and users. FDM printing is a good option for those looking for an affordable and easy-to-use 3D printer, while resin printing is suitable for those seeking high quality and detail in their prints. In both cases, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and properly configure the print settings to achieve the best possible results.

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