2D

Abbreviation for 2-dimensional. Often applied to the description of CAD systems (e.g. 2D CAD) indicating that the resulting file is a flat representation that has dimensions in only the x and y axes.

3D

Abbreviation for 3-dimensional. Often applied to the description of CAD systems (e.g. 3D CAD) indicating that the resulting file is a volumetric representation that has dimensions in the x, y and z axes.

3D Printing

3D Printing is used by the media and public as the general term covering technologies that build objects layer-by-layer. The term 3D Printing is often used for the consumer applications of the technology whereas Additive Manufacturing is the preferred term for industrial applications. The term 3D Printing includes a wide range of technologies, such as: laser sintering, FDM, stereolithography, and many more. These technologies are used in a wide range of industries from the automotive, consumer electronics, and consumables sectors as well as being used for medical applications and by individual consumers. For many companies and individuals, as they try to engineer better products, they are turning to 3D Printing for the benefits it offers over traditional techniques.

ABS

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, a thermoplastic commonly used as an additive manufacturing material. ABSplus, ABSi, ABS-M30, ABS-M30i, and ABS-ESD7 are all types of ABS and each offers different properties ranging from transparency to static dissipation.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is the process of making objects from 3D model data by joining materials layer by layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies, such as traditional machining. The term Additive Manufacturing includes a wide range of technologies, such as: laser sintering, FDM, stereolithography, and many more. These technologies are used in a wide range of industries from the automotive, consumer electronics, and consumables sectors as well as being used for medical applications and by individual consumers. For many companies and individuals, as they try to engineer better products, they are turning to AM for the benefits it offers over traditional techniques.

BASS

Break-away support structure. A style of support structure for the fused deposition modeling process that is manually removed after prototype creation.

Build Time

The time it takes for the 3D printer to construct a part.

Build Tray

A removable build platform inside of the 3D printer on which parts are built on. Also known as Build Envelope, Build Plate or Bed.

CAD

Computer-Aided Design. Software used to model designs in either 2D or 3D which can then be converted and used for additive manufacturing, computerized laser cutting and other technologies.

Elastomer

A material that can resume its original shape after a physical deformation.

Extrude

The process of ejecting material (usually a heated, liquid filament) through an opening (the printhead nozzle).

Extruder

The part of a machine that is responsible for the flow of filament as a part is built. An extruder consists of two parts: the cold end to draw and feed the thermoplastic from the spool and the hot end to melt and extrude the thermoplastic onto the part.

Filament

A term used to refer to both the raw material for 3D printing before is it used by the machine as well as the extruded plastic that the raw material is transformed into during the printing process.

FullCure750

The non-toxic gel-like photopolymer support structure for polyjet 3D model builds. The structure is removed by hand and/or with a compressed water machine.

FDM Technology

Fused Deposition Method, a 3D printing process that constructs parts by extruding thin layers of heated, liquid thermoplastic. ABS, PC, and ULTEM are commonly used materials. Also known as FFM or FFF.

G-code

A programming language used to communicate information from a computer to a CNC (computer numerical control) machine. Programs are available that read an STL file and send G-code to the machine without the need to directly type commands into the machine.

Hardening

A physical or chemical process that results in the permanent solidification of a model. Also known as Curing or Setting.

Heated Bed

A build surface that is warmed in order to prevent the base of a part from cooling too rapidly and warping occurring.

Heated Chamber

A build environment that is warmed in order to prevent a part from cooling too rapidly and warping from occurring. Similar to a Heated Bed, but different in that the environment surrounding the part is warmed as well as the base. Also referred as Heated Build Envelope.

Infill

The inside of a part. Often patterned (not solid) to reduce the amount of material required for the build.

Layer Thickness

The digital 2D cross section thickness or depth of a CAD model. Every 2D cross section is built layer by layer on the 3D printer in succession. Layer thickness can range from 16 – 30 microns. A thinner layer option equals a higher resolution part. Related: Micron, Slicing

Manifold Edge

A term used to refer to the model of an object when the edges connect to form a solid. This is a requirement for models that are to be 3D printed. Non-manifold edges occur when an edge is shared by more than two faces and the geometry becomes too thin to print. Related: Watertight

Micron

A unit equal to one millionth of a meter. The layer thickness of material in 3D printing is typically measured on the order of microns. Related: Layer Thickness, Slicing

Monomer

A relatively small molecule that binds to other molecules to form a polymer. A monomer is considered as a subunit of a polymer and is often repeated within the polymer.

Oligomer

A compound consisting of a small number of monomers (usually less than 10). This is in contrast to a polymer which consists of a large number of monomers.

Parametric

A parametric model refers to a model that has been constructed so that the dimensions of the object and its features can be easily adjusted at any time.

PC

Polycarbonate, a thermoplastic with high tensile strength and flexibility used as a 3D printer material. PC-ABS and PC-ISO are variations of polycarbonate and offer additional properties.

Photopolymer

A polymer whose properties are changed when exposed to light (typically UV light).

PLA

Polylactic acid. A thermoplastic used in 3D printing.

PolyJet Technology

PolyJet 3D printing technology is similar to inkjet document printing. But instead of jetting ink onto paper, PolyJet 3D printers jet layers of liquid photopolymer onto a build tray and cures them with UV light. The layers build up vertically — one layer at a time — to create a 3D model. Fully cured models can be handled immediately, without any additional post-curing. Along with the selected model materials, the 3D printer also jets a gel-like support material specially designed to uphold undercuts and complex geometries. It is easily removed by hand and/or with pressurized water.

PPSF / PPSU

Polyphenylsulfone, a thermoplastic used as a 3D printer material. PPSF has the highest heat resistance of the thermoplastics used in FDM printing.

Raft

A layer of disposable material that is extruded onto the bed before the building of the part begins. This is a technique used to prevent warping and it is rarely used with heated build surfaces.

Rapid Prototyping

Quickly constructing an object that expresses the forms and/or functions of a product. 3D printing expedites the production of prototypes — significantly reducing lead-time and cost.

Resolution

Used to describe the thickness of each printed layer along the z-axis and the number of points per inch on a layer in the xy-plane.

Slicing

The division of a 3D model into thin layers to prepare for 3D printing.

SLS

Selective Laser Sintering is a type of additive manufacturing. A process in which a high power optic laser fuses small powder particles layer by layer to produce complex and durable geometric parts. Unlike other additive manufacturing technologies, parts are surrounded by loose powder-like material during the build — eliminating the costs and time requirements of tooling.

STL

Stereo Lithographic — A file format commonly used with 3D printers. 3D models must typically be converted to this format before they are able to be processed by a 3D printer.

Support Material

A secondary material used in 3D printing that is added to reinforce thin or overhanging features in a build. Support material is usually classified as soluble or breakaway. A breakaway support structure can be physically removed by hand and/or with compressed water. A soluble support structure is dissolved in a special solution.

Thermoplastic

A secondary material used in 3D printing that is added to reinforce thin or overhanging features in a build. Support material is usually classified as soluble or breakaway. A breakaway support structure can be physically removed by hand and/or with compressed water. A soluble support structure is dissolved in a special solution.

Watertight

A term used to refer to an object when the CAD model is closed meaning there are no breaks in the edges of the model and the model is a complete solid. This is a requirement for CAD models that are to be 3D printed. Related to Manifold.