3D Printer Guide

How Do 3d Printers Work

You can think of a 3D printer as a very advanced hot glue gun that is controlled by a computer. The object is made by extruding a slice/thin layer of plastic on top of a previous layer. This process repeats until your object is complete.


Basic anatomy of the 3d printer

Housing/Frame- Is the ceiling, walls, and floor of the printer. This is where all components are housed

Build Platform- Is flat surface where your 3D model will be created on

Extruder- Is an “advanced hot glue gun”, but instead of glue sticks it uses melted plastic filament


Single extruder vs Dual extruder

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Dual extruder machines tend to cost a bit more than similar single extruder machines. Having a second extruder allows your printer to easily print different colors, or even different types of plastic all together. One really awesome use of dual extruders is dissolvable filaments. These filaments can be printed alongside PLA, for example, and allow the support structure to be dissolved in water allowing extremely complex designs. Besides cost, another downside to multiple extruders is that it tends to make the extruder assembly heavier and would generally result in slightly decreased print speeds.

Heated bed vs non heated bed

The big difference between heated and non heated bed (besides the heat), is its ability to let you print with more filament types. Most filaments require a heated bed. The reason for a heated bed is to keep warping under control. Warping is a big problem when it comes to multiple parts that needs to nest or fit together or large flat parts.  A common material that does not require a heated bed is PLA, but even some PLA filaments benefit from a little heat on the print surface. PLA is an excellent material for many reasons but if you want to run ABS or nylon to name a few, the end part will warp or not even stick to the bed without the addition of heat. For more information about filaments please see The Scoop on Filament page.


Printer movement

A printer moves around in its allotted space in a X, Y, and Z axes. When you are looking at the printer the X axis goes left to right, Y axis goes towards and away from you, and the Z axis goes up and down.

Multifunction Printer

We are in an exciting new time where technology is improving on a daily basis. 3D printers coming leaps and bounds over their older sisters and brothers. AIO Robotics introduced the first All-In-One 3D Printer. It takes the technology of a computer, slicing software, 3D printer, and 3D scanner and puts them all together in one sleek and functional package.

Which 3D Printer is right for me?

If you are a person that likes to keep things simple and easy then a single extruder and non heated bed is what you are looking for. They only run a single material (PLA) so there are not many decisions to make in order to print. The down side would be that PLA does not work for every application so you can be limited to what you can print. There are some single extruder printers that do have heated beds which really opens up the filament selection. Another good quality of single extruder printers is cost. They are usually lower in cost than dual extruder printers.

Unlike the single extruder and non heated bed printers, dual extruder and heated bed printers have many more options. You can treat the dual extruder just like a single extruder by only using one of the extrude heads. You can also choose not to turn on the headed bed. There are many material choices as well plus you can print multiple colors or filaments at the same time. With all the advantages of this style printer it does usually come with a higher price tag.


Suggested Printers

Zortrax M200

Recommended For:


Flashforge Creator X Pro

Recommended For:

All Levels

Zeus All-In-One 3D Printer

Recommended For:

All Levels/Schools

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