3D Printing Terminology for beginners

For beginners in 3D printing, a manual is necessary to help them learn the printing process. It is required to become familiar with the jargon used in learning about 3D printing and its application.

  • AM – Additive Manufacturing is a process of joining materials to make 3D objects.
  • 3D Scan – A process that captures a real object’s geometry and uses that data to produce a 3D model.
  • Filament – Thermoplastic formed into a continuous wire and wound onto a spool, so it is compatible with a 3D printer’s extrusion system.
  • ABS – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is a plastic material that is used on FDM printers.
  • FDM – Fused Deposition Modeling is creating 3D models layer by layer.
  • CAD – Computer-Aided Design is related to the design software used to create or modify the design.
  • PA – Polyamide is a fine, white granular powder used on SLS 3D printing technologies. 
  • PLA – Polylactic Acid is used in the form of a filament on FDM printers.
  • SL/SLA – Stereolithography is a 3D printing process that uses liquid resins, and it is used on big printers.
  • Spool – A cylindrical object around which filament can be wound. 
  • Layer – Extruded plastic of a closed-loop.
  • SLS – Selective Laser Sintering is a technology that uses powder.
  • .STL – Name of the most common 3D printing file format. The files generated by CAD programs usually have an extension . stl.
  • OBJ – It stands for Object File, and it is an alternative to the STL file format.
  • G-code – It is used to transmit instructions from a program to a 3D printer’s control system, so the printer knows how to print the 3D model.
  • Belt – Toothed gear belt that is used to transfer movement.
  • Build Plate – The surface where the printer deposits the materials used for printing. It is also known as Print Bed.
  • Build time – Time that is needed for a 3D printer to make an object.
  • Calibration – Process of adjusting a device to perform correctly or more efficiently.
  • Carriage – The moving assembly that holds the nozzle and hot end of the extruder.
  • Cura – A 3D printer slicing software. 
  • Extrude – The process of dispensing build material onto the build platform through a small nozzle, also called a “hot end.”
  • Extruder – The assembly that handles feeding and extruding filament during a print. 
  • Extruder Fan – Fan that cools the heat sink of the extruder.
  • Extruder Motor – Stepper motor of the extruder assembly.
  • Nozzle – Steel funnel-shaped die through which melted plastic is extruded.
  • Hot End – The heated portion of the extruder assembly that includes the nozzle and heating block.
  • Print Speed – The rate at which a 3D printer is capable of moving while extruding plastic. 
  • Printing Temperature – The temperature of the hot end at which the filament is melted and extruded.
  • Retraction – Backwards movement of an extruder motor to reduce the amount of material stringing or oozing.
  • Support – Additional removable structures that are printed to support overhangs or other parts of a model.
  • Infill – A value that represents in percentage how much a solid model should be filled in with material when printed.
  • Post-processing – Process of improving the appearance of the object after printing.
  • Print head – The part of a 3D printer where the material is extruded from.
  • Rapid prototyping – The process of creating physical prototypes from digital data.
  • Sintering – The process of fusing particles to form a solid mass of material.
  • Wall thickness – The thinnest dimension a wall can be printed and can support the model.
  • Compressed File – A computer file that has been reduced in size which can be reversed to recreate the original file.
  • Distortion – The deflection of a part from the shape created by the additive manufacturing process.
  • Feeder – The motor that pushes the filament towards the nozzle.
  • Melting – Process where a solid material is heated so its phase changes from solid to liquid. 
  • Warm-Up Time – The length of time that it takes for a 3D printer to reach its recommended operating temperature.