3D Printing Dictionary

3D printing dictionary

ABS Juice - It's a mixture of acetone and ABS filament (which melts in it). Various ABS Juice recipes recommend different proportions of both with usually about 10 mm of plastic for 10 ml of acetone. Apply it over the worktable of your 3D printer, so your prints stick to it.

Additive manufacturing - It refers to various fabrication processes used to manufacture 3D objects by adding layers of the material. It’s another name for 3D printing.

Artifact – An object or form printed on the worktable next to the actual object. It’s used as a transitional and cleaning artifact when using dual-head extruder or dual PRO in order to clean the nozzle between filament changes.

Brim – Few additional outlines at the base layer of printed model to ensure proper sticking to the bed. Also type of Artifact available in Voxelizer slicing software

BuildTak - Plastic sheet that can be attached to your printing surface to improve its sticking capabilities. Alternative to printing on ABS Juice or Kapton tape. Available here

CAD – Shorter for Computer Aided Design. The term includes both the software and the design process put into creating a digital model or a design that can be manufactured into a prototype or a final product.

Closed Loop System – Guardian mechanism implemented into ZMorph. It uses encoders to analyze the printing process and correct any type of toolhead alignment errors that might occur.

CNC – It stands for Computerized Numerical Control, which means an automated machine tool process based on a series of commands encoded (usually) in a G-code file. The process doesn’t require manual control or force to operate but man supervision may be required for it to succeed.

Desktop 3D printer – It’s basically a 3D printer that fits on a desk and gives you the ability to manufacture items at home, in a garage or office. Thanks to the RepRap movement, they became more popular and affordable in the last 5-6 years with many companies like ZMorph, Zortrax, MakerBot and Ultimaker offering their own consumer-friendly, easy-to-use machines.

Digital fabrication – Name for the entire process of designing and manufacturing a 3D object with various CAD/CAM software and fabrication methods like 3D printing, CNC milling or laser cutting.

DXF – Created by Autodesk, this universal CAD data file format is one of the most commonly used in design, engineering and product development. DXF files can be imported into CAM software, like Voxelizer, and later transformed into G-codes.

Encoders – In 3D printing, it’s a device that gathers information about drive shafts positions and converts them into a data which can be analyzed to check whether the toolhead is in a correct  position in reference to the work surface.

Extruder – Part of 3D printer, that is responsible for melting raw plastic material and forming it into continous profile (later used for creating 3D objects).

Fab Lab – It’s a mini scale workshop or a laboratory offering various tools for digital fabrication. Fab Lab’s and their users can be a great source of knowledge and inspiration for 3D printing beginners, students and DIY enthusiasts.

FDM – Stands for Fused Deposition Modeling and refers to a process in which a heated material (thermoplastic) is deposited in layers or next to each other and joined. This term is trademarked by Stratasys Inc.

FFF – Fused Filament Fabrication. The term refers to the same process as FDM and was coined by the RepRap community.

Filament – Plastic material in a form of string that you put into your printer. It can vary in type, consistency, color or properties. Depending on what type of extruder you have, choose between 1.75 filament or 2.85 mm one.

3D printing dictionary

G-code – Standardized programming language used for control of automated machine tools. Machine tool moves according to these instructions through a toolpath.

Heat bed – The heated bed platform in your machine. Your printing table on which your objects are printed.

Homing – Refers to putting the extruder into a predetermined position of the printing bed. For Cartesian machines this position is in the corner of the printbed (X0, Y0 and Z0 position)

Infill – It’s the inner filling inside the object/model. There are a lot of settings that can be changed here. Infill can be made using the same material or a different one when two-material extruder is mounted. Then, the infill can be placed by same or different nozzles which can have different temperatures, one can also be used for support.

Kapton Tape – Heat-resistant adhesive tape that can be used to stick objects to the worktable during 3D printing. In electronics, it’s used for protection of sensitive elements.

Mesh – Collection of vertices, edges and faces that define shape of object in solid modeling and 3d computer graphics. The faces usually are represented with triangles, quadrilaterals or other simple polygons.

Nozzle – The end piece on the extruder, made out of brass or stainless steel, from which the plastic flows out.

Outline – An outer layer on the edges of the model. Models can be printed only on outlines without inner infill too. The number of outlines can be adjusted in any slicing software.

Overhang - Part of a 3D printed objects that hangs over the worktable. When the overhangs are too big (usually over 60 degrees in relation to worksurface) it is more difficult to fabricate. These parts should be printed with a support, so the filament doesn’t spill to the surface.

Personal fabrication – Fabrication process in which a person is able to manufacture an object or a working prototype from a digital file using only one machine, even when it requires different methods of fabrication. When someone else (person or outsourcing company) and other machines are involved in the process, then it should be called just digital fabrication.

Power raft – Works as an extra security by providing additional layers underneath the model in order to help it stick to the worktable.

Preset – Your selected and/or saved printing settings for a given object.

RepRap – DIY community and movement founded in 2005 by Dr. Adrian Bowyer. It’s based on an idea of making a self-replicating, open source, low-cost 3D printing machine. Since then, RepRap project gathered up thousands of participants from all over the world who continue to upgrade and modify the technology.

Retraction - Rapid move that retracts small amount of filament, to prevent the toolhead from oozing when moving between different parts of the print.

Slice – Another name of a single layer of a 3D printed object. The thickness of a slice depends on a value set in the slicing software.

Slicer – Common name for a computer software used for preparing models for 3D printing. Programs like Voxelizer slice the models into horizontal layers that are later 3D printed one after another based on G-code files.

SLS – Selective Laser Sintering, which is an additive manufacturing process which utilizes a laser to sinter layers of powders. Used mostly in bigger, industrial 3D printers. SLM and DMLS are other laser-based methods of digital fabrication.

STL — File format initially used for Stereolithography files only, now widely used with all kinds of 3D printing software. STL files include the pure geometry of 3D models without a color or texture. They can be later transformed into G-codes in slicing software.

Subtractive manufacturing – Also known as machining. It refers to various fabrication methods in which part of a material is being cut, milled or engraved in order to create a final shape or a desired object.

Support – structure for objects with a big overhang. In order to print them correctly, it has to have support material underneath. The support material is removable after the print is ready. Can be removed either mechanically or dissolved (PVA or HIPS).

Thermistor – It’s the part built-in inside the metal block just above the nozzle. It serves as a temperature feedback mechanism - be careful not to damage it when changing the nozzle!

Toolhead – The "head" that is mounted on your ZMorph machine. Single and dual heads are used for 3D printing. When a CNC mill is mounted you are most likely to mill either 2D or 3D.
3D printing dictionary

Voxel – Unit of measurement within Voxelizer Software. Every object is represented by a Voxel, a three-dimensional pixel in space. The size of a voxel can be adjusted.


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