How to define 3D Printing?

You have heard about 3D Printing but you feel lost when it comes to SLM, PLA, slicing?  This page lists main terms relative to 3D Printing: technologies, materials, building parameters.

Can’t find a word? Contact us and we will be glad to add it! (We do our best to be up-to-date but 3D printing evolves so fast.)

ABS: one of the most popular materials used with the FFF technology. Cheap, stronger and higher melting temperature than PLA.


Bed / heated bed:  plate included or not in the building plate to heat it and keep first layers warm. Some materials, like ABS, requires a heated bed to avoid warping and bending.

Brim: Outline attached to the part and printed before it. If there is an offset then it is a skirt.


CLAD: Construction Laser Additive Direct. CLAD nozzle is composed of 3 channels: 2 for leading the metal powder and the third for the laser. So the powder is melted as it comes out of the nozzle.


DMLS: go to SLM definition.


Extruder: names the block from the gears that push and retract filament to the hot end which is the nozzle.


FFF/FDM: Fused Fabrication Filament (free expression) and Fused Deposition Modelling (Stratasys copyrights). It names the same technology used with polymers. The material is melted and laid down to create layers. This technology begins to be used with filaments charged with metal, wood, glass fiber, for instance.

Filament: raw material for FFF technology.

Fan: Allows to cool down quickly the material just laid down.


Gcode: machine language. It is a list of commands sent to the printer which indicates the material quantity to lay down, to retract, the printing speed, the extruder path, fan on/off command,…


Honeycomb: a pattern used to fill a part, inspired by nature. It has a high compression resistance.


Infill: Value given in percentage to indicate the material quantity to put inside the part. The “external” quantity is perimeter.


Layer: quantity height put down by the passage of the extruder.


Nozzle: the very end of the extruder head. It is here that the material is melted, so it is the hottest part of the extruder.


PLA: one of the most popular materials used with the FFF technology. Easy to print.

Plate/building plate: surface where the part is built. X and Y range.

Perimeter: External contours of the part. Make the strength of the part.


Raft: Layers build under the part. Used when the adhesion with build plate is not good enough.

Recoater: In powder technology, the blade that translates to spread unmelted powder for the next layer.

Resolution: For Z-axis, names the layer height. The smaller, the longer the print is.


SLM: most common technology to print metal part. Metal powder is melted by a laser, a recoater translates to spread unmelted powder on the build plate.

Slicing: conversion of the stl file into machine language, Gcode.

Support: structure used during the print to help build.

Skirt: Outline around the part and made before it. It does not the part. If yes, then it is a brim.


Vase mode: It is just one perimeter. There is no cut between each layer as the part is built following a spiral tool path.


Wraping: due to thermal stress, the first layers of the print can arise. Happens especially at the corners and for a long flat part.


Z offset: height between the nozzle end and the build plate.

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