What is 3D printing?

3D printing makes it easier than ever to bring ideas to life. And with the latest technology, tools and services at Staples, you get an edge on how you win business, educate and create.

How does 3D printing work?

3D printing or additive manufacturing is a way to build real objects from digital files. The printer converts a software blueprint into slices and deposits layer after layer of plastic, metal or other composites until the finished product is formed.

Compared to traditional manufacturing methods like cutting, carving and drilling, it takes less time and raw material.

So whether you're building a prototype, a model of a cell for biology class, or a custom picture frame, 3D printing takes you from blueprint to prototype quickly and effectively.

3D Printer

A robotic device that prints layer by layer of plastic, metal or other composites.

This is the nozzle where the filament comes out to build your print.
Build plate
This is where the print is built. The larger the build plate, the larger the print you can create.
3D printers are equipped with Wi-Fi, USB or Ethernet ports to load your print files.


This is your printer’s ink. It comes in many different colors and materials, so you can create almost anything.

Compatibility: Most filaments work with any brand of printer.

Plastic: Choose from corn-based PLA (polylactic acid) or higher quality ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)

Output capacity: One large spool of filament makes about 200 smartphone cases.


Computer Aided Design (CAD) software helps you lay out the virtual 3D model of the object.

It also preps the Stereolithography (STL) print file you send to the printer. Not all software can export in that format, so make sure you choose one that does.

Depending on the size and shape of your design, complexity and resolution are factors you also need to consider.

Provide hands-on learning.

Spark creativity and help students grasp difficult concepts using the technology they'll encounter in the workforce.

  • Enriches Science, Art, Math, Engineering, Technology (STEAM) curriculum
  • Gives schools and teachers a competitive advantage
Take advantage of our services.
  • Try out 3D printing before investing in a printer.
  • Quickly print multiple pieces for the entire class.
Featured products for Educators.
XYZ Davinci Jr 3D Printer
XYZ DaVinci AiO 3D Printer
XYZ DaVinci Filaments
3D Doodler
3Doodler Filaments
Get it right sooner.

Leap from inspiration to ideation. Constantly innovate. Wow potential clients. All on a shorter schedule and smaller budget.

  • Allows rapid, cost-effective prototyping
  • Keeps everything in house
  • Minimizes risk and error
Grow your business with our services.
  • Get high-quality prints at an affordable price
  • Print working prototypes and finished products
  • Mulitiple colors and materials including plastic, powder and metals.
Featured products for Businesses.
Makerbot Replicator
Makerbot Replicator Mini
Makerbot Z18
Makerbot Scanner
Makerbot 10 pk Filament
Create with technical precision.

From replacement parts to one-of-a-kind creations, 3D printing gives you more control over the details.

  • Create quickly and easily in your home or studio
  • Design and accurately produce in microscopic detail
Our services can take it to the next level.
  • Experiment with different materials and techniques
  • Print bulk quantities of your unique creations
Featured products for Makers.
Cube 3D Printer
iSense 3D Scanner
Cubify Invent
Robox Dual Nozzle 3D Printer
Robox Filaments
Let us 3D print for you.

Whether you need a prototype or bulk quantities of a finished design, our robust 3D printing services make it all possible.

  • Print in multiple colors and over 40 different materials including plastic, powder and metals.
  • Add text, figures and images or
  • Preview your creation on our responsive, interactive 3D viewer
  • Get your finished product shipped to you or your clients
Featured products for Services.
Makerbot Replicator
Makerbot Replicator Mini
Makerbot Z18
Makerbot Scanner
Makerbot Filament

3D printing in the classroom.

See how educators are incorporating 3D technology in their curriculum.

3D printing in the workplace.

See how businesses are putting 3D technology to work.

Endless creativity with 3D.

See how artists and hobbyist push their craft with 3D technology.

Quick 3D Printing Guide

Get a primer on 3D printing and its everyday uses.