Best 3D Printing Books


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Learn The Basics Or Get Tips From The Pros With My Top Recommended Books on 3D Printing

When I begin a new hobby I love to immerse myself in it, and curling up with a good book on the subject is one of the best ways to quickly gain knowledge on a new subject.

3D printing is a technology that is very easy to begin but takes a lot of testing and determination to master. The beauty of a book is you get to learn all the wisdom from someone else’s experiences, by reading for a few hours you can learn what it took someone else years to figure out and therefore avoid making the same mistakes they did.

It seems an odd juxtaposition to read a book about such a recent technology as 3D printing. But a lot of great books have been written about it so it would be silly to ignore such a wealth of information.

Although 3D printing has only recently become a part of everyday life, the technology behind it has been around for decades and therefore there is a great amount useful information out there to help you get the most out of your 3D printer.

From the practicalities of the technology behind it to the wide range of implications it will have on society, there are many great books available on every aspect of 3D printing.

The books in this list are arranged in sections with those at the beginning able to give you a great foundation in the basic practicalities of 3D printing. The books further down the list are aimed at furthering your knowledge to become a 3D printing expert. The final section contains books that look at the broader implications of 3D printing on society and the world as a whole.

3D Printing Books for Beginners

Make: Getting Started with 3D Printing by Liza Wallach Kloski & Nick Kloski

This is a great book for beginners to learn the basics of 3D printing. It has some very useful practical advice including a great section on software.

My favorite section is on troubleshooting problems with 3D prints. This offers some excellent practical solutions to the most common problems you may come across when 3D printing. The advice is very clearly written with limited use of technical jargon and can help you avoid or solve most issues.

The majority of the information in the book is current and relevant to 3D printing in 2017 as the book was published recently in May 2016. However, my only criticism of the book is that the authors have a bias towards kit 3D printers.

This is understandable as they were the popular entry point to 3D printing when the book was written over a year ago but are now becoming less relevant as consumer 3D printers have dropped in price to be the best choice for most beginners.


A great book for newcomers to the world of 3D printing as it offers very useful tips and advice aimed at beginners.

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This book is about the design and software side of 3D printing rather than the practical hardware side.

It gives a summary of different 3D printing technologies, a guide on choosing the best 3D printer and a guide on 3D scanning. Some of the information on specific models is a little out of date as is the nature of such a new technology, the information is still useful you’re just better off using websites (like this one!) to find out about the latest models.

The best section of the book is on design software and has well-written instructions that teach you the techniques needed for turning the ideas in your head into a 3D CAD model ready for 3D printing.

The tutorials and guides are very clearly written and use many excellent illustrations to clarify and demonstrate the ideas shown.

The book is aimed at beginners and begins by walking you through simple exercises like downloading existing CAD files from websites like Thingiverse and then progresses to show you how to optimize these CAD models to get the best possible quality and reliability from the 3D print.

The examples always use free software and never try to push you into upgrading to paid for software which is nice to see.

The exercises gradually increase in difficulty progressing through to the complete design of new objects in visual CAD programs such as Autodesk 123D.

After working through all the examples in this book you should have no problems designing your own models and getting them to print successfully as the methods taught are applicable to many types of geometry.


As with all the books in the ‘Make:’ series the guides are very clearly written using language that doesn’t have too many jargon terms. There are very few books that talk about the design side of 3D printing in as much detail as ‘Design for 3D Printing’ so I thoroughly recommend it to anyone starting out with 3D printing or anyone who’s at an intermediate level and would like to learn more about design.

Maintaining and Troubleshooting Your 3D Printer by Charles Bell

This is the user manual that should come with all 3D printers!

It’s full of detailed and useful information on all the most commonly experienced problems you’re likely to come across when 3D printing. From getting the first layer of a part to stick to the build plate to avoiding jagged edges on a print. A comprehensive guide to software issues is also included.

There’s a very thorough section on calibration which explains every detail of why aligning your print bed is so important and how you can achieve perfect alignment.

Lastly, a section on maintenance and improvements to your 3D printer has guides on the basics like how and where to lubricate your 3D printer and how to tell when re-alignment is needed which will help you keep your 3D printer in top condition for years to come. I’ve not seen a maintenance guide in any other 3D printer books.


This book is really a manual for every 3D printer. As such it’s not an exciting read but is best kept on the shelf where it will be referred to again and again to reliably provide an answer whenever you hit an obstacle in your 3D printing adventures.

Thoroughly recommended!

3D Printing Books for Children

A Beginner’s Guide To 3D Printing by Mike Rigsby

This book is a great companion to have with you when you get your first 3D printer, it’s a real hands-on guide.

The author leads you through fourteen projects, each with step by step instructions, to create a toy. There’s no theory to learn, you just follow the instructions and learn through doing. As Mike says it’s like being an apprentice.

The first project is as simple as you can get – a single domino, the second not much more complicated – a spinning button. But the complexity of each project increases and before you know it you’ll be making an airplane, a working paddleboat and a frog-faced clicker toy!

All the projects include useful screen caps of the toys being designed in Autodesk 123D which is a free and highly recommended 3D design software. Instructions on using the equally popular Sketchup software are also included.


Some people may find this book a little too basic or boring but if you have little or no experience of either CAD design or 3D printing it’s a very worthy contender for ‘must have’.

Although basic, the techniques you will learn are essential for successful 3D prints and can be universally applied to most 3D printing projects.

The toy projects the book focuses on are perfect for young children to get interested in 3D printing. Combining this book with the XYZ da Vinci Mini Maker would be a perfect introduction to 3D printing for your children.

LEO the Maker Prince: Journeys in 3D Printing by Carla Diana

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Leo the Maker Prince is quite a different book as it is written as a story following the journey of a talking robot called Leo who has the ability to make any object that Carla draws.

The book is aimed at children aged 5-10 although any beginners to 3D printing will find something to learn in the story.

For young children, this is really a unique way for them to learn about 3D printing and they will find it very entertaining.

Many of the characters featured in the book are available on Thingiverse. Imagine being able to bring your kids favorite characters to life in their own home?!


There’s no better way for young children to learn about the possibilities of 3D printing than by reading this entertaining storybook. It’s sure to spark the imagination of any curious young mind

3D Printing Books for Experienced 3D Printer Owners

The Zombie Apocalypse Guide to 3D printing: Designing and printing practical objects by Clifford T Smyth

This book is aimed at people who already have a basic understanding of 3D printing and the ability to print models successfully. The object of the book is to show you how to print practical useful items that you can use around the home but these practical tips are written through the tongue in cheek premise of using 3D printing to survive the impending zombie apocalypse.

The book focusses on practical advice to teach you how to design for 3D printing, optimize your designs for strength and durability and basic engineering skills like calculating working loads to ensure your parts will be strong enough.

It then offers useful information on optimizing the printing process itself. How to calibrate your printer, how to create quick prototype parts and lots of advice on commonly seen problems.

One of the best examples in the book is about designing a replacement part for a chainsaw that would otherwise be impossible to replace because it is obsolete. This is one of the fundamental benefits of 3D printing. Walking you through this process in a step by step guide is worth the price tag of the book alone.


A really useful and well-written guide to using 3D printing for a practical purpose. If you want to progress from making beginner level toys and desk ornaments to actual engineering solutions then this is the perfect guide for you.

The Great Disruption: Competing and Surviving in the Second Wave of the Industrial Revolution by Rick Smith & Mitch Free

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The premise of this book is that just as we have started thinking of the industrial revolution as something in our forgotten past 3D printing has arrived with a bang and is here to kick start the second wave of the revolution.

The authors use many real-life examples to illustrate just how revolutionary 3D printing is and how large an impact it will have on our lives.

They demonstrate how big corporations are currently using or gearing up to take advantage of this new technology and he provides thoughtful advice on how you should sit up and take notice of this and start planning how to take advantage of its benefits or risk being severely left behind.


Rick Smith and Mitch Free are clearly fans of 3D printing. This book is written with such enthusiasm that it’s hard to put it down. What makes it unique is the author’s ability to see the wide-ranging implications of 3D printing in the industry and to write about them in such an inspiring way. You will finish this book feeling impatient to experience the future it promises and hungry to being your own 3D printing adventure.

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This is the first book written that addresses the many legal, social and economic areas of our lives that 3D printing will influence.

There is no doubt that 3D printing is beginning to and will increasingly change the way society operates and the consequences of this need to be considered and pre-empted.

One day consumers will be able to manufacture clothing, medication, spare parts and food in their own homes. This will have far-reaching effects on many different businesses that currently rely on manufacturing and selling these products. It will also have an environmental effect as products can be manufactured only when required without the need for stock to be held. It also eliminates the need for a distribution network.

With these changes come many legal questions. If I print an object designed by somebody else and it injures me, who is responsible? Should I be allowed to design and manufacture weapons using 3D printing?


This book addresses many of the philosophical issues we are due to experience with the rise of 3D printing with in-depth analysis and academic discussion. It’s not an easy read but it’s a book that introduces so many interesting new issues it will really get you thinking about the broader impact of 3D printing on our world.

-Dylan Miller

Last update on 2021-10-10 at 11:04

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