3D Printing Dictionary
A digital file containing data that represents an object in three dimensions. There are many 3D formats including container formats that include skeleton rigging, animations, textures and other assets included with the 3D model. STL is the most popular format for CAD, CAM and 3D printing.
A device capable of producing an object from digital data (a 3D Model).
Creating a physical object from a 3D model. 3D Printing technologies include many different methods of creating objects with FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) currently being the most popular for residential hobbyists and consumers.
Materials used in 3D printing.
A XML based file format originated by Microsoft for use in additive manufacturing. 3MF features a document tree for including human-readable assets and common file formats.
A term used for the next-dimension in 3D printing. 4D models are 3D models that have articulation and have been produced in a single print. 4D printing may produce a model that can be folded, spun or otherwise manipulated without any additional assembly after being printed.
Automatic Bed Leveling. Strategies for ABL include using mechanical end stops, inductive proximity switches, force sensitive resistors and contact probes to provide feedback used to offset printing to help compensate for uneven or not level beds.
Bill of Materials. A list of required items (materials) for a project.
When printing with an FFF printer having a level bed is absolutely critical to the quality of the first few layers of the part.
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. A common plastic used in 3D printing as well as many toys and household objects. Printing with this material may lead beginning printers to experience part warping and parts not sticking to the bed. A heated print platform or chamber is recommended. ABS can be dissolved in acetone.
Applying acetone to ABS causes the ABS to melt. This effect can be used to 'glue' ABS parts together.
The process of manufacturing an object by adding material to it layer-by-layer. There are additive manufacturing processes for many materials including metals and plastics. FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) is a type of additive manufacturing.
A Colorado based company dedicated to libre hardware, free software and libre innovation in the 3D printer and personal manufacturing space. Producers of the LulzBot TAZ and Mini printers.
Additive Manufacturing File. An AMF is an open standard file format for describing objects for use in additive manufacturing (3D printing). AMF is superior to the common STL format.
AstroPrint, a Kickstarter(tm) project, is a free and open source project to bring wireless management and remote monitoring to your printer. A Cloud Slicer, Remote Monitor and other services are available from their web site.
US based producer of premium ABS and PLA filaments.
An open source hardware platform enabling hobbyists and developers to utilize high-performance and cost-effective single-board computers for their projects. The BeagleBone series of boards are part of the BeagleBoard family.
The BeagleBone is a series of high-performance and highly accessible computers using embedded Linux. The BeagleBone series of computers are members of the BeagleBoard family.
Special materials are necessary for the print bed of an FFF printer. The bed material must allow for good adhesion while still allowing the user to remove the part when it has completed printing. Many types of quality print material are available.
Blender is a very mature open source 3D modelling (and more!) software. Blender can be used to produce 3D models for printing. Version 2.6 and up include a plugin called the 3D Printing Toolbox to aid in producing printable models. This plugin must be enabled through the plugin manager.
A special glass that is resistant to thermal flucatations. This characteristic makes it ideal for use in a printer bed. Pyrex is a trade name for borosilicate glass. This glass is used in cookware and other areas requiring a material resistant to thermal changes.
A 'bowden' setup refers to a configuration where an extruder is remote to the print tool. This extruder pushes the filament through a tube connected to the top of the hot end. 'Bowden' is named after cables that function in a similar manner such as bicycle brakes.
BQ is an electronics, robotics and 3D printing company headquartered in Spain. 3D printing products include an i3 kit, the Ciclop scanner, Horus scanning, ZUM robotics platform, BitBloq Studio and more.
A very wide first layer of a print that is not part of the model. Brims can help with bed adhesion of a part.
The portion of an extruder in an FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) printer that is opposite to the hot end. This portion is normally responsible for feeding the plastic into the hot end.
ColorFabb produces high quality filaments including many exotic filaments.
An automatic gcode tool from Prusa Research that allows users to add filament changes to their print. Very helpful for single extruder designs. The program relies on good support of the M600 command as implemented in Marlin.
Cura is a complete open source software suite for 3D Printers. Cura includes the CuraEngine slicer and a GUI for common tasks such as configuration, plating and slicing models. Cura supports many different 3D printers and is still in very active development.
Part of Cura. The CuraEngine can be used as a standalone slicer to produce gcode from 3D models.
A direct drive extruder uses a gear mounted directly to the motor shaft to drive the filament (directly).
e3d is a UK producer of 3D printer parts and accessories. Popular e3d hot ends include the Chimera, Volcano, e3dv6 and e3d lite6.
A short-hand commonly meant to refer to an end effector.
In robotics an end effector is the last link of a robotic mechanism. An end effector may be a claw, vacuum nozzle or other mechanism. Most commonly used to refer to the platform the hot end rests on in Delta printer designs.
Etcher is a tool created by Resin.io to quicly and easily write images to storage devices like SD cards or thumb drives.
An extruder is responsible for pushing plastic into the hot end, heating the plastic and then extruding the plastic out to the platform or previous layer.
Fused Deposition Modeling is a term used for a popular method of 3D printing. This term is owned by Stratasys. FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) is the preferred term when not referencing Stratasys technologies.
Fused Filament Fabrication, an additive manufacturing process. FFF is the preferred term to use for 3D printers that use plastic extruders. This term was originated from the members of the RepRap community and its use is unconstrained legally.
Plastic used in FFF printing. Filament is usually purchased in two popular sizes: 1.75mm and 3mm. Filament is used in a variety of materials.
A 3D printed part can be finished to increase aesthetic qualities. Finishing may involve healing parts of the print with a heat tool, sanding or placing printed parts in a vapor bath.
Fused Filament Fabrication, an additive manufacturing process describing how material is additively deposited on to printed material to produce a sturdy object. FFF is the preferred term to use for 3D printers that use plastic extruders. This term was originated from the members of the RepRap community and its use is unconstrained legally.
Code used to control a 3D printer. 3D models (usually STL) are converted to a series of gcodes that are sent to the printer controller. gcode is in plain text and it is possible to send gcode directly to your printer via a serial console.
A file produced that includes instructions for the 3D printer. When printing similar parts repeatedly it is often desirable to slice them into gcode once and then repeat sending the gcode to the printer. This avoids any inconsistency in the printed parts.
The heat block is the part of the hot end in an FFF printer that holds a heater cartridge (or resistor) and thermistor. The heat block houses the nozzle and is responsible for keeping the plastic at a consistent temperature for extruding.
The heat break is a small section between the heat block and cooling of a hot end. This area is designed to minimize the amount of heat transferred to the cooling area.
A cartridge designed to produce heat from electrical energy. Heater cartridges fit inside of the heat block of the hot end in an FFF printer. Heat is controlled by electronics via feedback from the thermistor.
An electrical component designed to produce controlled heat when electricity is applied to it. Heat resistors are still very popular with many systems moving to heater cartridges.
High Impact Polystyrene. HIPS is most commonly used as a support material and can be easily dissolved in limonene. HIPS is also used as a primary print material and is known to warp less than ABS.
Hobbing is cutting successive grooves into material to create, for example, gears. A hobbed bolt is a standard bolt (usually M8) with hobbing cut into it to be used as a driving mechanism for filament.
Hobbing is cutting successive grooves into material to create, for example, gears. A hobbed gear is a standard gear (usually mk7 or mk8 style gears) with hobbing cut into it to be used as a driving mechanism for filament.
The hot end is the part of an FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) printer that heats up and actually melts the plastic. A hotend includes the heat block, heat break and cooling fins. The cooling fins and active cooling fans on some hot ends prevent heat from affecting the rest of the print tool. Often written hot end, hotend or even hot-end.
Josef Průša is the creator of the Prusa Mendel family of printers. An open source advocate, Josef Průša has made (and continues to make) a large number of advances in open source hardware and software for the RepRap project since 2009.
A full Debian based image for the BeagleBoard computer for use with Replicape. Includes all software necessary to run a 3D printer including Redeem and Toggle.
MachineKit is an open source software project with a goal of creating rich software designed for controlling machines. MachineKit is compatible with popular hardware and features modules for controlling harware, processing digital feedback and more.
A firmware for Arduino based printer controllers.
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). The NEMA maintains manufacturing standards for electrical equipment.
NEMA 17 is a standard size and mounting plate for stepper motors. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) designates NEMA 17 as an electric motor with a 1.7x1.7 inch faceplate.
NEMA 23 is a standard size and mounting plate for stepper motors. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) designates NEMA 23 as an electric motor with a 2.3x2.3 inch faceplate.
NinjaFlex is a brand of thermoplastic elastomer that produces very flexible yet very stong 3D printed parts.
The nozzle is the end of the hot end where the hot extruded plastic exits. Common nozzle sizes have orifices of 0.35mm, 0.4mm and 0.5mm. A smaller nozzle orifice will produce a finer extruded filament at the cost of a lengthier print time and potential errors during a print. A larger nozzle orifice is generally more reliable with a shorter print time while reducing overall quality.
Nylon is a very strong material used in 3D printing. Flexible and low warp with good layer adhesion. Nylon must be kept very dry.
An open source web interface for 3D printers. OctoPrint also functions as a dedicated print host for a printer allowing the printer user to queue up jobs and leave OctoPrint to manage them.
The designs and necessary components of a project or product are accessible and redistributable. Like open source software, open hardware is available to use and innovate with. Some restrictions apply depending on the license used by the project.
A development model promoting universal access to a product's design, production, software and other aspects. Redistribution of the product's design is encouraged. This model allows anyone to use and contribute to the product with the expectation that any improvements will be redistributed with the project. Many different licenses exist for Open Source software to protect the model of redistribution, availability and usage in commercial products.
Hardware designs made available for redistribution and use. Some restrictions may apply depending on the license the project is distributed under.
Software following a model that allows source code, content and other assets to be redistributed and available. Some restrictions may apply depending on the license the project is made available under.
An open source software project for modelling objects programmatically. OpenSCAD has its own language that allows a user to define geometry and boolean operations to accurately produce models.
Polyethylene Terephthalate. PET is a lightweight and mostly transparent material. PET plastics are often used for food containers, although you should avoid storing consumable items in 3D printed containers.
Polylactic Acid or Polylactate. A very common, eco-friendly, low-warp and mostly odorless filament created from plants.
Polycarbonate is a very strong material used in 3D printing. Polycarbonate must be kept very dry.
A print host sends control codes to a printer to complete a print. Some printers include print hosts that can use SD cards or file transfers. Most printers require a separate print host.
A python library of RepRap related functions. Part of the printrun project.
The electronics responsible for controlling a 3D printer. The controller is responsible for interfacing to a host, processing gcode into instructions for the hardware, controlling the hardware and more.
A pure-python host software for 3D printers. Printrun includes pronterface (a UI), pronsole (allows for console control) and printcore (a reusable library).
The console component of printrun.
The UI component of printrun
The company founded by Josef Průša. News and sales of innovative and open source projects including the Prusa i3 printer.
A person who is a Python enthusiast or Python programmer.
When printing an object a raft is sometimes used to improve the adhsion of the object to the printer bed. Rafts can also be used to compensate for uneven print surfaces. When printing with supports a raft can be useful to stabilize the model and supports.
An all-in-one printer controller manufactured by Ultimachine. Based on RAMPS, the RAMBo boards are open hardware that you can build, modify and program for. RAMBo is based on Arduino allowing for easy programming, extension and re-flashing.
RepRap Arduino Mega Pololu Shield. A 3D printer controller built around an ATMega microprocessor and Pololu Stepper Drivers.
Redeem is the print host for Replicape powered printers.
Open source 3D printer cape created for the BeagleBone Black. Replicape leverages the full power of the BeagleBone and allows a user full access to the underlying Linux OS.
RepRap is project that spawned a line of 3D printers capable of producing parts for additional printers (a self-replicating manufacturing machine). RepRap is also a community of individuals dedicated to open source innovation in the 3D printer space.
A servo is an electric motor with a feedback mechanism (usually a potentiometer) that can be used to position the motor. Hobby style servo motors are prone to having their plastic gears slip as well as developing jitter over time. Servos need to be occasionally recalibrated for the best results.
An outline of a printed part that does not connect to the printed part. A skirt is useful in ensuring that the plastic used in printing is flowing as expected before the printer begins printing the critical first layer of the part.
Stereolithography. A method of producing parts from a liquid resin cured into a solid. The plastic resin is usually cured to a solid by a high-energy ultraviolet light. Further hardening of the object can be achieved by exposure to ultraviolet light.
Slic3r is a popular software for 'slicing' 3D models into a format suitable for printing.
A software program that reduces a 3D model into 'slices' suitable for turning into instructions for the 3D printer.
An open source hardware printer controller that can also control CNC machines, laser cutters and more. The Smoothieboard uses a 32 bit Cortex MCU - a much more powerful processor than the Arduino based controllers.
A stepper motor is a special DC motor with many coils. The motor spindle 'steps' between these coils to achieve predictable and accurate movement. A stepper motor is different from a servo as a servo features feedback for controlled positioning. Common stepper motors are usually indicated by a NEMA standard. Be sure to check the datasheet for the stepper motor you plan on ordering for wiring, shaft diameter, depth and bolt placement tolerances.
A popular 3D model format used in computer aided manufacturing including 3D printing.
T-glase is a polymer plastic from Taulman 3D. T-glase is mostly transparent and has the same qualities as PET.
A resistor that reduces in resistance when heated. The properties of thermistors aid in controlling the heat in the heat block of an FFF printer by providing a feedback loop to the electronics of the printer which controls the heater cartridge.
A very young open source front-end for Replicape powered 3D printers. Toggle includes a rich UI and runs natively from Replicape.
A Tennessee based 3D printer supply company. Ultimachine offers a variety of products and produces the RAMBo 3D printer controllers.
Many materials used in 3D printing can be dissolved with chemicals. Placing printed parts in a warm vapor bath can smooth the part and create a very nice finish.