What Materials Do 3D Printers Use?

The materials that are used during the 3D printing process are multifaceted and as diversified as the end results. Therefore, 3D printers are diverse and flexible enough to ensure that manufacturers can sculpt the size, strength, shape and texture of a specific product.

The best thing is that these printers can achieve the highest quality results without taking extensive steps in order to do so and this is what is usually needed during traditional methods of printing. These products can also be made using differing types of 3D materials.

In order for a 3D printer to be fully realized in the resulting product, a detailed design should be submitted to the machine.

What Materials Do 3D Printers Use

The details are registered in standard triangle language or STL which highlights the different dimensions and intricacies of any design.

This coding also ensures that a computerized printer can see a design from all of the necessary angles. An STL is equivalent to numerous flat designs that have been compiled in one electronic file.

The 3D printing industry is currently worth 10 figures and plastic is usually the main material used in this process. With the continual market expansion of plastics, this industry has sought out unique ways to yield different types of plastic including sourcing plastics that have been manufactured using organic ingredients like corn and soybean oil.

These plastics are also the most environmentally friendly material that is used during the 3D printing process.


Out of all of the materials that are used during the 3D printing process, plastic is undoubtedly the most common choice. This is because it is the most diverse material that can be used to sculpt a variety of 3D printed toys and household items.

These products include vases, action figures and even stationery. Whilst these products can become available in clear, transparent forms, more vibrant coloring is also used. These plastic filaments are typically sold on spools and usually have a matte texture, or alternatively, they can be shiny.

The firmness of plastic makes it a greatly appealing material to use in the manufacturing of these products. It is a notably affordable option as it doesn’t make a dent in the pockets of the producer or consumer.

These products are usually made using FDM printers and these printers utilize thermoplastic filaments that are melted down and sculpted into shape, layer by layer.

Plastic items that are made by 3D printers come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from flat and round to meshed and concave. Google images boasts a range of 3D products such as action figures that demonstrate this.


As well as plastic, powders are now utilized in modern 3D printers in order to construct products without the need to use plastic at all. The powder is melted inside the printer and evenly distributed in order to achieve the desired level of thickness. Patterns are also made using powdered products.

When used in powdered form, materials like copper and steel can be more easily sculpted into different shapes, however, metal powder must be heated to the appropriate level in order to be distributed layer by layer and form the correct shape.


One of the lesser used materials in 3D printing is resin. This is used less frequently when compared to materials like powder and plastic as it doesn’t offer as much flexibility.

Resin is made from liquid polymer and can achieve its end state only by exposure to UV light. This resin is typically found in white, black and transparent varieties but some printed products can be produced in blue, green, red and orange.


A far more popular material that is used in the 3D printing industry is metal. Metal is utilized via a process that is known as metal laser sintering or DMLS.

This process has been widely embraced by many different manufacturers such as those who make equipment for air-travel and the 3D printing process greatly speeds up the construction of necessary components.

DMLS printers can also be used by craftsmen and jewelry makers as this means that their products can be produced in higher quantities without the painstaking work. Metal produces a far stronger product and a diverse range of items when used in 3D printing.

Jewelers have typically used copper and steel in order to create bracelets, and the main reason for this is that the intricate engraving work is handled completely by the printer itself.

Metal jewelry 3D printing

The technology for these metal based 3D printers is incredibly advanced and has also opened the door for larger machine manufacturers to produce much needed products at a higher speed.

These products also have an undoubtedly superior strength when compared with the parts that have been constructed via a conventional machine that is made up of refined metals. During the printing process, the metal is used in dust form and this dust is heated in order to attain its maximum solidity.

This allows the printers to bypass the process of casting and to make succinct use of the metal dust in order to form metal parts quickly. Once the printing process has finished, these parts are then electro-polished and can be released straight onto the market.

Metal dust is also used during the construction of metal-based instruments and powder-form materials like metal is also readily used in the construction of medical machines and devices.

The process of using metal for 3D printing allows for a reduced number of parts in the end product. Any device that has been created using a traditional form of printing uses more than 100 individual pieces, by comparison.


To conclude, plastic, powder and metal are the main materials that are used during the 3D printing process and you should invest in the material that is used most readily in the manufacturing of your own specific product.

As always, do your research and exercise caution prior to undertaking the 3D printing process and you will be greatly rewarded with the fast and efficient perks of owning a 3D printer.

Michael Moore