What is 3D Printing? 3D Printing (often called rapid prototyping or additive manufacturing) is a manufacturing process that allows computer generated 3D models to be transformed into physical objects through a layered printing process. How did it start? 3D printing was initially devised in the 90s as a means to produce relatively inexpensive prototype parts for industrial and automotive design work. Today, as costs begin to decline, 3D printing is finding its way into an expanding variety of industries, as well as home-based projects. How Does 3D Printing work? In additive manufacturing, three-dimensional objects are created from a raw material in either liquid or particle form. Using a computer-generated digital model as a guide, a 3D printer deposits microscopically thin layers of the raw material, and the object gradually materializes layer by layer. What is 3D Printer filament? Think of filament as the “ink” for 3D printers. The amount of detail possible in a 3D print is determined by the thinness of the layers, and the raw material can be anything from synthetic resin, to ceramic powder, metal, glass, or even chocolate.