Learn the Basics of 3D Printing

Scroll down for more information about how to use your MakerBot 3D Printer and MakerBot software. For MakerBot set-up questions, go to makerbot.com/getstarted.

How a MakerBot Works

Explore the key technologies that work together to make MakerBot 3D Printers possible.

FDM or Fused Deposition Modeling

MakerBot's 3D Printers rely on a technology called Fused Deposition Modeling or FDM. It uses an extruder, which acts similar to a hot glue gun. Plastic filament is fed in through the top, is melted at 215℃, and finally is “extruded” out of a small nozzle into the layers that build a 3D print.


Cartesian Coordinates

Cartesian Coordinates

MakerBot 3D Printers know where to move using a three dimensional cartesian coordinate system which defines every point of a 3D model with a unique position along the X, Y, and Z axes. The coordinates are fed to the printer from MakerBot Print and MakerBot Mobile.

Printing Workflow

To print on a MakerBot 3D Printer, you must obtain a 3D file, prepare it in MakerBot Print, and send it to your MakerBot 3D printer.

Step 1: 3D File

In order to 3D print, you must have a 3D file. Here are a few ways to get a file:


Design an object to print in a 3D modeling or CAD program.


Scan an existing object with a 3D scanner.


Find a file online from websites like thingiverse.com

Rafts and Supports

Prints with Overhangs

  1. An overhang is when a layer extends outward, potentially unsupported, over the previous layer.

  2. If your models have overhangs greater than 68 degrees (measured from the vertical axis) for MakerBot PLA Printers, then you will need to print with support material.

What are Rafts & Supports?

  1. Supports are printed scaffolding for overhangs. You can turn on supports in MakerBot Print.

  2. A Raft helps with adhesion to the build plate by laying down an even flat foundation. Rafts are turned on by default in MakerBot Print.

Completed Print

  1. Both rafts and supports are physically removed after the print is finished. Once rafts and supports are removed, your model is complete!

Infill Percentage

Infill is the support structure inside your object. Changing Infill affects your print’s density. A higher percentage will result in a more solid object, while 0% infill will make your object hollow.

0% infill

10% infill

40% infill

Number of Shells

Shells are the outer layers that make up the surface of your prints. Adding more shells does not affect its external dimensions, but can make your object stronger.

1 Shell

2 Shells

5 Shells

Layer Height and Print Resolution

Layer Height, also known as Print Resolution, changes the surface quality of a 3D print. Low resolution means the layers are thicker, objects print faster, and the surface quality is rougher. High resolution means the layers are thinner, objects print slower, and the surface is smoother. We suggest printing at our standard print quality.

Low 0.3mm (300 microns)

Standard 0.2mm (200 microns)

High 0.1mm (100 microns)

Step 3: Print

Follow these steps before printing: Attach your extruder and build plate to your MakerBot 3D Printer, then load the filament. If you have any questions about your specific model MakerBot 3D printer, please refer to the manuals at support.makerbot.com/learn

Remote Monitoring

Once a print has begun, you can monitor its progress from MakerBot Print or MakerBot Mobile. Your MakerBot 3D Printer will need to be connected to a network over Wi-Fi or Ethernet to monitor remotely.

Remote Monitoring

MakerBot NYC Training

Get scaled up on your MakerBot 3D Printers faster with hands-on, education-specific sessions taught by MakerBot's knowledgeable, friendly experts.

MakerBot Certified Trainers

Your teachers, team, or staff can quickly learn about our products and solutions in The MakerBot Fundamentals Workshop. It's a 3-hour session conducted by a MakerBot Certified Trainer near you.