What Does A 3D Printing Engineer Do?


A 3D printing engineer is in charge of designing and creating prototypes and three-dimensional objects based on business or consumer needs. They design, integrate, and support these prototypes and assist with the deployment of digital software to production. Therefore, they use CAD software and 3D printers. What does a 3D printing engineer do?

What is 3D printing?

3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, is the process of constructing a three-dimensional object from a CAD model or any other digital file. This is done by laying down many successive, thin layers of material on top of each other, hence the name additive manufacturing.

A common example of a production process in additive manufacturing is Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing, or WAAM. 

Role Overview - 3D Printing Engineer
Role Overview – 3D Printing Engineer

In this process, layers of metal are deposited on top of each other to create a 3D shape by using metal wire as the material and an electric arc as an energy source. 

The entire process is controlled by an industrial robot and therefore allows engineers to build much larger parts – this is particularly useful in industries such as healthcare, aerospace, automotive, energy, or consumer goods.

3D printing engineers play a crucial role in harnessing the power of additive manufacturing, pushing the boundaries of innovation and revolutionising industries as the ones mentioned above.

How does 3D printing help engineering?

  • Complex designs: 3D printing allows engineers in all industries to print more complex designs, making it easier for them to experiment with shapes and geometries that may not be financially viable with existing techniques.
  • Reduced waste: This is one of the main benefits of 3D printing in engineering. Since the material is added layer by layer, there is less waste and a more environmentally friendly option. In traditional manufacturing processes, the material waste can be huge. For example, engineers in the civil industry can produce next to no excess waste during a construction project by using computer-aided software.
  • Customization and speed: It’s easier for engineers to modify or adapt a design so that it meets the requirements. As a result, 3D printing allows to produce highly customized products. Also, processes are faster because 3D printing allows engineers to test their ideas and designs early in the process.
  • Cost savings: 3D printing equipment is expensive but can lead to cost savings in the long run. There is no need to outsource the processes or buy tooling and molds and thanks to customization, speed in processes, etc. engineers will save time and money.

Responsibilities of a 3D Printing Engineer

A 3D printing engineer is in charge of exploring and creating new concepts in the field in which they work and then developing those concepts into 3D models.

The role of a 3D printing engineer starts with conceptualizing and designing the product (therefore they use computer-aided design (CAD) software. Then they convert the digital model into a format that a 3D printer can read.

They decide the printing technique they need for the desired outcome and also the most suitable materials.

The 3D printing engineer sets the digital printing and processing conditions, such as time, speed, temperature and environment, and analyses the results of the printed files. If there are any imperfections in the printed product, they will need to make the necessary changes to improve it.

3D printing engineers are also responsible for improving the production process and that manufacturing is done in accordance with relevant quality standards. They need to stay updated with the latest news and improvements in additive manufacturing technology, 3D printing techniques and materials, too.

3D printing engineers prepare technical reports and presentations to summarise results and status and lead post-processing routines such as machining and cleaning 3D printed parts.

Responsibilities Of A 3D Printing Engineer
Responsibilities Of A 3D Printing Engineer

What are 3D printing engineers responsible for?

  • Explore and create new concepts by collaborating with other team members
  • Understand the design requirements and ensure it’s suitable for 3D printing
  • Develop concepts into 3D models
  • Select the most appropriate materials and printing technniques
  • Establish digital printing and processing conditions such as time, temperature and environment
  • Analyse results of printed object and make adjustments in case these are needed
  • Improve production process and resolve issues that might arise during the printing process
  • Ensure manufacturing is done in accordance with relevant quality standards
  • Prepare technical reports and presentations (documentation includes design files, quality control measures, printing parameters, etc.)
  • Lead post-processing routines such as machining and cleaning 3D printed parts.

What skills are required for a 3D Printing Engineer?

3D printing engineers need to have a strong understanding of 3D technologies and experience with 3D CAD software. They must also have knowledge of manufacturing production and processes and understand design for additive manufacturing (DFAM).

These engineers must possess the ability to design, repair and modify 3D CAD data and have knowledge of a range of different post-processing techniques and surface finishing.

They must also have knowledge of different materials used in 3D printing and have basic understanding of product and business development.

Like all engineers, they must have strong communication and presentation skills and an excellent attention to detail. They also need to have the ability to work well in a team.

Finally, a 3D printing engineer should have a passion for learning and keeping up to date with the latest advances in 3D printing, which is a rapidly evolving field where new technologies, materials and techniques are emerging on a regular basis.

Skills Of A 3D Printing Engineer
Skills Of A 3D Printing Engineer

Skills of a 3D printing engineer:

  • Strong understanding of 3D technologies
  • Experience with 3D CAD software such as AutoCAD and Fusion 360
  • Knowledge of different materials used in 3D printing (plastics, metals, ceramics, and composites)
  • Knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • Familiarity with 3D printing technologies such as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Stereolithography (SPA), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), etc.
  • Ability to design, repair and modify 3D CAD data
  • Experience with operating 3D printers
  • Knowledge of range of different post-processing techniques and surface finishing
  • Understanding of quality control processes
  • Strong communication and good presentation skills
  • Excellent attention to detail and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work well in a team

How do I become a 3D Printing Engineer?

A Bachelor’s degree is typically required to secure a job as a 3D printing engineer. This can be in Engineering, Computer Science, Materials Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or any other related field. A bachelor degree provides with a solid foundation in engineering principles.

Some may also choose to pursue a Master’s Degree in the same fields or specialising in additive manufacturing. This will make candidates more competitive.

You can also expand your knowledge and improve your skills by obtaining certifications related to this role. Check out options for these down below:

Besides certifications and titles, gain relevant experience with 3D printing and learn about its applications and processes. This will make all the difference.

Don’t forget to continue to learn and keep up with this evolving field by attending industry conferences, reading industry publications, etc.

Salary of a 3D Printing Engineer

3D printing engineers typically earn around $84,000 per year on average in the US. Engineers who are just starting their careers can expect a salary of around $54,000 whereas those with years of experience can earn around $133,000 per year.

These numbers can of course vary depending on the industry you’re in, the skills you have and the position you occupy.

In Germany, 3D printing engineers can earn anywhere between €25,000-€135,000 whereas in the UK, they can earn between £31,000-£54,000.

How much do 3D printing engineers make?

US$54,000 – $133,000
UK£31,000 – £54,000
Germany€25,000 – €135,000

How much do freelancers in the 3D printing industry make?

3D Printing Engineers on freelancermap charge on average:


Rates in the 3D Printing Industry range between $40 and $96/hour for most freelancers.

The daily rate for 3D Print Engineers (8 working hours) would be around:

Stand 27/01/2023

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Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com

By Natalia Campana

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