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3D printers turn CAD designs into parts by building them layer by layer. Learn how the process works, from the machines to the software to the materials.

Both metal and composite Markforged 3D printers utilize processes based on Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF, also known as FDM). FFF 3D printing is comprised of three relatively simple components:

3D printing software: 3D printing relies on a fully-automated software system that controls everything from gantry position to material deposition. These systems vary significantly, but all have the same core elements.

3D printing materials: Material selection dictates both the mechanical properties of the final part and the specifics of the printing process required to fabricate it. Application constraints come first when selecting a material—however, fabrication constraints can equally make or break your part. As is true in subtractive manufacturing, some materials are easier to print than others.

3D printing process: Dictated by software, this is the physical process by which FFF 3D printers deposit material layer-by-layer in the shape of a part. The specifics of this process impact part quality, precision, and print time.