3D printing or additive manufacturing is a way of building three-dimensional objects from a digital file.
The construction of a 3D printed object is achieved using an added layer processes. In an added layer process, an object is created by extruding down successive layers of various types of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.
3D printing allows you to produce complex shapes with less material than normal manufacturing methods. In 3D printing, no special tools are required (for example, a cutting tool with certain geometry or a mold). Instead, the part is manufactured directly onto the built platform layer-by-layer, which leads to a unique set of benefits and limitations – more on this below.
3D printed parts are rarely ready-to-use out of the machine though. They often require some post-processing to achieve the desired level of surface finish.