3D printing Acronyms & Abbreviations

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Acronyms, Abbreviations & Glossary of Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing is an exciting technology and is rapidly growing in popularity due to 3D printers becoming more affordable. You cant read an article about 3D printing without coming across lots of abbreviations, acronyms, jargons and terminology. The additive manufacturing industry is full of them. Introduction and disappearance of new processes, abbreviations and acronyms are a healthy part of technology advance in the field and its evolution.

Material extrusion_filament
Material extrusion_filament

Therefore, I have listed some of the most common acronyms, abbreviations and glossary terms used in the industry, so that you’ve got all the information in one place for effortless future reference. You can read how 3D printing technologies are categorised into 7 groups and how they all generally follow very similar steps to create a 3D object.

Hopefully, the following list of terms and its short description would shed some light and give you a basic idea.

Acronyms, Abbreviations & Glossary

3D file / 3D model It is an electronic file representing a three-dimensional object created either by a 3D modelling software or 3D scanner
3DP 3D printing or 3-dimensional printing – refer to Additive manufacturing
3SP Envision tec’s patented scan, spin & selectively photocuring technique to create 3D prints
ABS Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is an opaque thermoplastic and amorphous polymer
AM Additive Manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing in which 3D object is fabricated by adding layer-upon-layer of material and fuse them together – learn more here
BJ Binder Jetting is  a 3D printing technique where a binding liquid is selectively deposited to join powder material together to form a 3D part – learn more here
Bridge Sections of a print that are supported at both ends, but not in the middle.
Bowden tube Bowden tube or sometimes called Bowden cable guides filament from the feeder to the print head on material extrusion printers
Build envelope Build envelope is the maximum volume the printer can print and determines how large  an object the printer can build
Build plate Also known as Build platform or Bed, is the surface or area of the 3D printer on which parts are formed.
CAD Computer-Aided Design
CAM Computer-Aided Manufacturing
CDLP Continuous Direct Light Processing is part of vat photopolymerization AM method where a photopolymer liquid resin is cured to make hard plastic parts – more here
CNC Computer Numerical Control
Cura Cura is an open-source 3D printer slicing application used and optimised for Ultimaker printers – more here
DED Direct Energy Deposition – It is one of the additive manufacturing techniques where focused thermal energy such as a laser, electron beam, or plasma arc is used to fuse materials by melting as they are being deposited – Learn more here
DLP Direct Light Processing is part of vat photopolymerization AM method where a photopolymer liquid resin is cured to make hard plastic parts – more here
DMD Direct Metal Deposition
DMLS Direct Metal Laser Sintering – Learn more here
DOD Drop-On-Demand
EBAM Electron Beam Additive Manufacture
EBM Electron Beam Melting
Extruder A 3D printer head module which pushes the filament through the Bowden tube to the hot end using two counter-rotating gripping wheels
FDM Fused Deposition Modeling
FFF Fused Filament Fabrication
Filament FDM printers operate by melting a plastic filament, which is typically made of either ABS or PLA
Fill / Infill The interior structure of a 3D printed object. To avoid wasting time and material by printing solid objects, the interior of the objects are printed with a mesh type structure. The infill is typically expressed as a percentage (eg. 10% infill).
G-code G-code is the file format used to store information that can be interpreted by CNC machines and 3D printers
GDP Gel Dispensing 3D Printing technology that utilizes movement similar to what is used in FDM systems, while working with a UV sensitive material that hardens when exposed to UV light
GF Glass-Filled
Hot end Material extrusion method additive manufacturing uses a material extruder that gets hot enough to melt plastic, or potentially other materials
Kapton tape Heat-resistant polyimide adhesive tape. Often used in material extrusion printers to cover the surface of the print bed in order to provide better adhesion to the 3D printed model and prevent it from warping
LCM Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing a process for the additive manufacturing of high-performance ceramics
LENS Laser Engineered Net Shape
LMD Laser Metal Deposition, a printing process which casts and fuses metal with a laser beam
LOM Laminated Object Manufacturing
LS Laser Sintering
Material Extrusion 3d printing where a continuous filament of thermoplastic is used to construct 3D parts. Learn more here
Mesh meaning the dividing of a model in basic blocks or structures that are small and simple enough to do calculations on them
Micron a unit of length equal to one-millionth of a metre
MJ Material Jetting
MJF Multi Jet Fusion
Netfabb A commercial 3D print preparation application, Netfabb is able to prepare, repair and slice 3D models in preparation for printing. Learn more here www.netfabb.com
Nozzle The part of the hot end of the printer that deposits the melted plastic material.
NPJ NanoParticle Jetting
OBJ Object file – A geometry definition file format from 3D modelling programs commonly used in 3D printing.
Overhang Parts or features of a 3D model that protrudes or overhangs at an angle over 45 degrees without any support below when orientated on the build platform  are generally categorised as overhangs
PA Polyamide
PBF Powder Bed Fusion
PC Polycarbonate
Photopolymer A polymer that changes its properties when exposed to light.
PIM Plastic injection moulding
PLA Polylactic Acid – A biodegradable thermoplastic polymer made from plant starch, used as a 3D printer material.
Polyjet It is one of the 3d printing techniques which fall under Material jetting
PP Polypropylene
PVA Polyvinyl Alcohol – A water-soluble filament often used as support material in 3D printing.
Raft The raft is a removable filament latticework printed horizontally onto the build platform as support to minimise warping. The raft is larger than the part hence better adhesion and removed and discarded after the printing process. Rafts are commonly used with ABS material extrusion type printers
RE Reverse Engineering is the process in which an engineering product is deconstructed to understand its designs and/or to extract knowledge about its working principle
RepRap Short for Replicating Rapid Prototyper, is the first low cost general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing/3D printing machine
RM Rapid Manufacturing
RP Rapid Prototyping
RT Rapid Tooling
Sheet lamination One of the 7 additive manufacturing techniques
.amf Additive Manufacturing File
Shell Also referred to it as the outline or outer perimeter, this describes the outermost wall of the printed 3D object
SHS Selective heat sintering
SL Stereolithography is an AM technology which produces parts using a process called photopolymerization – refer more @ Vat Photopolymerization
SLA Stereolithography Apparatus
Slicer / Slice This is a software to convert the digital 3D file into a machine-readable code. The slicer cuts the model into very thin horizontal layers called slice and generates tool paths in the two-dimensional plane.
SLM Selective Laser Melting
SLS Selective Laser Sintering
STL/.stl known as the Stereolithographic file, it is the most common file format 3D printers use.
Support / Support material 3D objects with large overhangs or gaps require removable supports to stop it collapsing during printing. In some instances, these are printed using different material to the main part material.
Thermoplastic Also known as thermo softening plastic is a material such as synthetic resins that becomes plastic when heated above a specific temperature and hardens when cooled.
TPU Thermoplastic Polyurethane
Vat Photopolymerization Vat photopolymerization is an AM method where a light source is used to cure photopolymer liquid resin and turn into hard plastic parts – more here
Voxel In 3D printing, a voxel represents a value on a regular grid in a three-dimensional space, like a pixel with volume.

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