Let’s start with an explanation of what 3D Printing means.
There are several kinds of 3D printing technology, but today we are talking about Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), also known as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). This is a form of what’s known as Additive Manufacturing.
In contrast to subtractive processes (like drilling, milling and sawing) that cut away material, 3D printing is an additive process that by taking a roll of plastic that looks a bit like it came out of a garden line trimmer, and squeezing the plastic through a hot nozzle that melts it into a tiny warm.
There’s very little waste, and the noise and smells are minimal to nonexistent.
But, unlike owning a drill or a lathe, 3D printing has been until recently been either frigheningly expensive, or maddeningly fiddly.