3D printing is a form of AM (Additive Manufacturing) that produces a three dimensional solid object from a digital file. This section will look at how to create the digital file and print the solid object.

Solid shapes are printed in layers or slices which takes a solid 3D model created using software and prepares it for printing. When you design a par for 3D printing – there are conventions and rules that should be followed in order for your design to be successfully printed.

Most ordinary image printing is done by selecting the print command in an application – whether a Word document, spreadsheet, digital photo or drawing. 3D printing requires an application that also has a print command for 3D printing but with a few additional steps before submitting the request to the printer. Depending on the software you use for designing the model, you will need to prepare a special file whose format ends with STL. STL is short for stereolithographyand without going into too much detail – the format gives the printer the command to print each slice that will result in the final shape of the model. Some software already have this feature built in and some printers may require a different format – usually a proprietary format exclusive to the printer.

We will look at how to create an image that can be printed as a 3D object beginning with the software needed to create and prepare the image for output and several ways that it can be printed