Home3D PrintingMost Used 3D Printing Terms

Most Used 3D Printing Terms

Hello Machine Bros!
In this article, you will find the main terms used in the world of 3D printing. This 3D printing glossary has been grouped into 10 different categories:

Generalized Concepts

Rapid Prototyping

Rapid prototyping is the process of creating 3D models, prototypes and parts through CAD programs and generally the construction of these models are done through Additive Manufacturing.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing is the manufacturing process on which 3D printing is based. It consists of the creation of 3D pieces from the addition of one or more materials layer by layer.

Reverse Engineering

What reverse engineering seeks is to obtain information and even develop a design based on an already finished product.

With Reverse Engineering it is possible to verify which are the parts of a product and how they interact with each other, in such a way that it is able to determine what was the manufacturing process of said product.

This method is called inverse because the steps to follow are usually executed in the opposite way to usual engineering, where technical data is first obtained to later develop the product. Check out the article 3D Printing and Reverse Engineering for more information.

Terms about 3D printing
Carabiner creation using Reverse Engineering.

3D Scanner

A 3D scanner is a device that analyzes an object or a scene to gather data on its shape and occasionally also on its color. The information obtained can be used to build three-dimensional digital models.

Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry is the technique whose objective is to study and define with precision the shape, dimensions and position in space of any object, essentially using measurements made on one or more photographs of that object.

Annealing

Annealing is a heat treatment whose purpose is the reorganization of the molecular structure of the material (in our case a polymer) and/or the elimination of internal stresses. Check out the article How to Apply Annealing to 3D Prints for more information.

What is annealing
Thermal test performed on annealed and unannealed parts

Post-processing

Post-processing in 3D printing is any procedure that is applied to a printed part after it is 3D printed. For example Polishing, sanding, removal of supports, painting, etc. Visit our Beginner’s Guide: How to Paint Your 3D Model.

What's post processing in 3D printing?
Post processing applied to a Terminator 3D model

Collective intelligence

Is a form of intelligence that arises from the collaboration of various individuals, generally of the same species, in relation to a particular topic.

3D printing and Maker Culture are closely tied to collective intelligence.

Maker

Makers are a contemporary culture or subculture that represents a technology-based extension of DIY culture (Do it Yourself) and this promotes the idea that everyone is capable of developing any task.

The maker culture emphasizes learning through doing (active learning) in a social environment, emphasizes informal, networked, coupled, and shared learning, motivated by fun and self-realization.

It also fosters new applications of technologies.

Time-lapse

It is a very popular photographic technique used in cinematography and photography to show different motifs or events that usually happen at very slow speeds.

The visual effect that is achieved with Time-Lapse is that everything that has been captured moves very quickly, such as the movement of clouds, the opening of a flower, a sunset, etc.

We have done some 3D Print Time-Lapses, such as 3D Print Time Lapse & Painting: Goku.

Peel Force

Peel Force is a phenomenon that happens to the bottom-Up type desktop resin 3D printers.

Their 3D printing process generates a force known as Peel Force, which is a kind of suction or adhesion that is created between the piece to be 3D printed and the FEP sheet (The FEP sheet is responsible for creating a separation between the light emitter UV and resin).

The Peel Force must be eliminated each layer, and this generates an additional cost of time, additionally, it requires more supports.

Terms About 3D Printing

Layers

3D printing is based on overlapping layers of material, when you put all those layers together you get a 3D model.

Let’s make an analogy or comparison with banknotes. Suppose that at this moment you have a banknote in your hand, that banknote represents a layer.

You place the bill on a table or any flat surface, then on that bill you put another bill in line, that is, you end up placing another layer, and so on until you place about 50 bills, which would be the equivalent of 50 layers.

Now all those bills (layers) end up forming a kind of rectangular prism (Cuboid).

terms about 3D printing
Analogy of banknotes, layers and the cuboid

Infill

Infill in 3D printing, is the internal structure of a 3D model, in other words, the fill.

The infill can have several purposes, some of these are: to give weight to the piece, to give it robustness and solidity, to provide printing support, among others. This structure can vary depending on the needs of the 3D part. The density of the infill varies from 0 to 100%. So, 0% is a completely empty object inside and 100% a completely solid object. This parameter is variable in a Slicer.

what's the infill in 3D printing
Infill examples

Outline/Perimeter

The perimeters (outline) are the plastic lines that make up the outermost part of a 3D print.

What's the perimeter in 3D printing
Difference between using 2 perimeters and 4 perimeters

Top Solid Layers

They are the upper solid layers that a 3D print has.

Bottom Solid Layers

They are the bottom solid layers that a 3D print has.

Layer Height

Layer height is the height or thickness that each printing layer will have. For a 0.4mm diameter nozzle (the most common nozzle diameter), a layer height ranging from 0.1mm to 0.32mm is generally used.

What is the layer height in 3D printing
Difference between using 0.1mm layer height and 1mm layer height

Skirt

The skirt in 3D printing is a kind of outline that is printed around the part to be 3D printed, but without touching the part as such.

It is generally used for the purpose of cleaning the nozzle before starting printing.

What's the skirt in 3D printing
Difference between Brim and Skirt

Brim

The Brim in 3D printing is a kind of strip or edge that the slicer creates around the object to be 3D printed to improve the adhesion of the piece to the bed.

What is Brim in 3D printing?
Differences between Brim and Raft

Raft

The Raft is a kind of bed that creates the slicer under the object to be 3D printed to improve the adhesion of the piece to the bed.

What is raft in 3D printing?
Differences between Brim and Raft

Supports

The supports in 3D printing are the material used to serve as support when depositing the filament in parts where it cannot be done directly to a 3D model, such as overhangs, bridges, islands and parts with a lot of inclination.

What are the supports in 3D printing
Supports used to 3D print Wonder Woman

Bridging

Bridging in 3D printing is the material that is printed in the air, but is connected at its ends to parts of the main piece.

What is bridging in 3D printing
Difference between overhangs, bridges and angles

Overhangs

The overhangs in 3D printing are the protruding parts of the main part. These parts are not as well supported as the rest of the print.

Highly inclined parts are also often considered overhangs.

What's an overhang in 3D printing?
Applying supports to overhangs, bridges and angles > 45°

Islands

The islands are those parts of the 3D printing that would be printed in the air if no support is placed on them.

What's an island in a 3D model
Island found in a model

Extrusion

Extrusion in 3D printing is the process by which molten plastic is injected through the 3D printer nozzle, in order to deposit plastic to manufacture the part.

Retraction

Is the process by which filament is retracted from the printing nozzle, this seeks to stop the flow of plastic extrusion, in order to move the nozzle from one side to the other without depositing plastic in places where it is not required. This is usually done during travel moves.

Travel moves

Travel moves in 3D printing are movements in which you just want to move the nozzle from one side to the other without depositing filament.

Z-hop/Vertical lift

The Z-hop/Vertical lift option allows the nozzle to be raised a little when performing the X and Y axis movements in which it is not required to deposit filament (travel movements). There are makers that likes to activate this option and those who do not.

Jerk

In the world of 3D printing, the Jerk is NOT the same as we know in physics which is a change of acceleration of an object with respect to time (m/s3). In this case, the Jerk units are mm/s and mean the minimum change in speed that requires acceleration.

If you are about to make your first 3D printing, we recommend visiting our Beginner’s Guide of Simplify3D article.

3D Printing Failure Terms

Warping

In the world of 3D printing, warping is the phenomenon that occurs when a 3D part is printed and it does not cool uniformly, generally causing the part to bend at the lower corners of the 3D piece. This can easily occur when using ABS filament or parts with very large surfaces. To prevent this from happening it is recommended to use a heatbed, disable the print head fan or use a hot enclosure. Find more detailed information on warping in the article Tips to Prevent Warping and Cracking.

Warping in a 3D model

Cracking/Layer splitting

This phenomenon occurs for the same reasons as warping. That is the set of stresses that occur internally in the 3D piece due to thermal contractions. In the case of cracking, this occurs within the inner layers of printing. Find additional information about cracking at the article Tips to Prevent Warping and Cracking.

Cracking in a 3D model

Under-Extrusion

Is when not enough plastic is extruded.

What is under-extrusion in 3D printing?
Under-Extrusion, picture from Troubleshooting de Simplify3D

Over-Extrusion

Over-extrusion in 3D printing is when a lot of plastic is extruded.

What is over-extrusion in 3D printing
Over-Extrusion, picture from Troubleshooting de Simplify3D

Gaps

They are holes or spaces that are left without plastic.

What are the gaps in 3D printing?
Gaps, picture from Troubleshooting de Simplify3D

Stringing/Oozing

Stringing or Oozing in 3D printing are plastic threads that remain when the nozzle moves from one side to the other during travel movements, that is, when it is not intended to deposit filament in these movements.

Stringing Oozing in 3D printing
Stringing, picture from Troubleshooting de Simplify3D

Overheating

Overheating is when the model and/or the filament overheats.

What's overheating in 3D printing
Overheating, picture from Troubleshooting de Simplify3D

Layer Shifting

It’s when 3D printing layers shift.

What's Layer Shifting in 3D printing
Layer Shifting, picture from Troubleshooting de Simplify3D

Stripped filament

It is when the filament is “bitten, ground or eaten” by the gears that are responsible for moving and extruding the filament.

Grinding filament 3D printing
Grinding Filament, picture from Troubleshooting de Simplify3D

Cloged Extruder

Is when the extruder is clogged, blocked or obstructed.

Clogged extruder 3D printer
Clogged Extruder, picture from Troubleshooting de Simplify3D

Blobs and Zits

They are a kind of grains and stripes that can remain on the external surface of the 3D printed piece.

Blobs and Zits 3D printing
Blobs and Zits, picture from Troubleshooting de Simplify3D

Curling/Rough Corners

It is when the corners of the pieces are bent and deformed.

What's curling in 3D printing
Curling, picture from Troubleshooting de Simplify3D

Scars on Top Surface

They are scratches or scars that remain on the upper surfaces of the pieces, due to the dragging of material caused by the displacement of the nozzle, when it rubs against the surface.

What are the scars in 3D printing
Scars on Top Surface, picture from Troubleshooting de Simplify3D

Visit Troubleshooting de Simplify3D to see how you could deal with these problems and failures.

Or do not hesitate to leave any concern or question about 3D printing issues in our comments section and we will gladly try to help you.

Terms About 3D Printing Software

3D Modeling

3D modeling is the process of developing a mathematical representation based on coordinates of any surface of an object in three dimensions, through specialized software. It is the process of creating virtual three-dimensional objects using computer technology and the product is a 3D model.

With an engineering CAD software, we usually model in 3D in a parameterized way, but there are other ways of modeling, such as with 3D sculpting CAD software and solid construction geometry CAD software.

Check out the article Software Used in 3D Printing for further information.

What is 3D modeling
3D printing Worfflow

CAD

CAD or Computer-Aided Design, is the use of computers to help in the creation, modification, analysis or optimization of a design. CAD software is used to increase designer productivity, improve design quality, improve communications through documentation and create a manufacturing database. CAD output is often presented in the form of electronic files for printing, machining or other manufacturing operations. The term CADD is also used (for Computer-Aided Design and Drawing).

CAD Software
CAD Software

Parametric modeling

Parametric modeling is 3D modeling based on parameters, measurements, dimensions, and units. It is the type of 3D design that is commonly used in engineering.

What's parametric modeling
SolidWorks, example of software used for engineering design

3D Sculpting

3D sculpting is more similar to the work that artists do with clay, CAD software that has the option of sculpting is often used a lot by artists and graphic designers.

What's 3D sculpting
Blender, example of software used for artistic design

Constructive Solid Geometry

This type of CAD software bases its operation on using predefined and primitive figures to create more complex models.

What's Constructive Solid Geometry
Tinkercad, example of software that uses Constructive solid geometry for design

G-Code

The G-Code is a numerical control programming language, which is mainly used by computer-aided manufacturing machines and tools. As CNC machines and 3D printers.

For 3D printers, the instructions in G-Code contain all the printing information such as: printing speed, how much filament will be extruded, hot bed temperature, layer height and many more.

All these parameters are generally configured in a slicer software.

G-Code 3D Printing
G-Code

STL Format

The STL Format is the most common type of software file used for 3D printing. A large number of CAD Software is compatible with this type of file.

Basically, the file describes the geometric surface of the 3D piece. There are two methods of encoding these types of files, ASCII or binary, the latter being the most used and its generated files are lighter.

STL-File

Slicer

A Slicer is the computer software used in 3D printing processes. It is responsible for transforming a 3D object (STL file) on the computer to a set of instructions in G-code to the 3D printer (the printers do not automatically understand the STL files).

In the Slicer all the parameters related to the 3D printing will be set, such as bed temperature, layer thickness, printing speed, jerk, etc.

There are lots of slicers on the market (many of these for free!) and these vary depending on the level of the user (beginner, intermediate or advanced), price, operating system, among others.

What is a slicer in 3D printing
Simplify3D, the Slicer that used by The Machine Bros

Terms about the 3D printing industry & technologies

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

A trademark term which also equals to Fused Filament Fabrication and is similar to additive manufacturing. It is the most common manufacturing process used by 3D printers, which uses filaments of material that are injected through a nozzle to create a 3D piece layer by layer. Find additional information about the FDM technology in the article FDM or SLA: Which 3D printer to buy?

Robocasting

Robocasting is like the technology mentioned above (FDM), but instead of extruding plastic, a pasty filament is extruded. Layer by layer, the material is deposited that is expelled by the nozzle, thus completing the shape to be formed.

3D concrete printing

3D concrete printing is based on depositing concrete while the nozzle through which it is extruded moves from one side to the other to give the shape that is needed layer by layer until the desired structure is obtained.

With this technology we are experimenting with the possibility that in the not-too-distant future houses and buildings will be built using this technology.

In our article The Biggest 3D Printed Objects you can find an example of concrete printing technology.

Stereolithography (SLA)

Stereolithography also known as optical manufacturing or photo-solidification is another type of additive manufacturing technology. The process uses UV-sensitive resin which is emitted by a laser and solidifies layer by layer the 3D model.

Find additional information about the FDM technology in the article FDM or SLA: Which 3D printer to buy?

Digital Light Processing Stereolithography (DLP)

This technology is the same as SLA, but the ultraviolet light instead of being generated by a laser is generated by an ultraviolet digital light projector (DLP).

Masked stereolithography (MSLA)

This technology is the same as SLA, but the ultraviolet light instead of being generated by a laser is generated by an ultraviolet liquid crystal display (LCD).

MSLA technology is commonly used in desktop resin 3D printers, that is, the 3D printers most accessible to the general public.

Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP)

CLIP is a new technology patented by the Carbon3d company, which seeks to considerably increase resin 3D printing times by eliminating the force known as Peel force, which we explain in this same article.

Binder Jetting

It is another technique of manufacturing 3D parts, which deposits a bonding adhesive agent on a bed of dust.

Electron Beam Melting (EBM)

The working mechanics are similar to the binder injection (BJ), but the powder to be used must be a conductive material, only metals can be used.

An electron beam is used to melt the powder, and the printing process must be done under vacuum, the powder is preheated before starting the printing process.

Selective Laser Melting (SLM)

SLM technology is very similar to EBM, but instead of using an electron beam to melt the material, a laser is used in this case. 3D printing is done in a controlled atmosphere with some inert gas, for example argon or nitrogen.

This technology works best with pure metals rather than alloys.

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

DMLS technology is very similar to SLM, but instead of melting the material, it is heated to a temperature slightly lower than the melting point. (Sintered).

SLM technology can produce more resistant parts than this technology (DMLS).

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

This technology is practically the same as DMLS, the main difference between this technology (SLS) and DMLS, is that DMLS was designed or conceived mainly to work with metals and their alloys, while SLS technology is designed to work with numerous types of plastics, glass, ceramics, and a special selection of metals.

DMLS printers are focused on working with metals and SLS printers can only work with very specific metals.

Selective Heat Sintering (SHS)

This technology is very similar to SLS, the difference is that in SHS printing instead of using a laser to sinter, a thermal print head is used here.

This technology (SHS) can only be applied with powders made of plastic materials.

Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) by HP

In MJF printing, the plastic powder is preheated, then a fusing agent and a detailing agent are injected onto the parts to be fused. The fusing agent helps the plastic powder selectively melt only the parts to be joined, the detailing agent helps to improve the resolution and finish of the print.

Both agents are a kind of ink that is specifically sprayed or injected into the plastic powder particles that are intended to be melted.

Once the two respective agents have been applied (the fusing and the detailing), lamps are passed that generate the reaction that allows the parts that were treated with the agents to fuse and unite. Then the building surface goes down, a new layer of powder is added, and the process is repeated, so on, layer by layer, until the desired object is finally obtained.

Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS)

In this technology, a high-power laser melts a metallic powder that is injected by another head, that is, there are two heads, one that injects the material and the other with the laser that melts it.

Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM)

This technology is like (LENS), the main differences are as follows. With EBAM the material is supplied in wire or rod form, with LENS it is supplied in powder form.

The other difference is that with EBAM the material is melted using electron beams, LENS technology melts using a high-power laser.

Laser metal deposition (LMD)

This technology is practically the same as (LENS), only it has another commercial name.

Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM)

The process is very similar to any other direct energy deposition (DED) additive manufacturing method. The main difference is that this technology uses arc welding as a source of energy to melt a wire or rod. MIG-MAG, TIG and plasma welding sources can be used for this process.

Electron-Beam Freeform Fabrication (EBF3) by NASA

A technology very similar to Sciaky’s (EBAM), but this is owned by NASA. NASA developed this printing technology to be used in weightless conditions.

PolyJet

The PolyJet technology is the one that most closely resembles the classic 2D printing, the difference lies in the fact that the head instead of injecting normal ink, it injects small drops of a photopolymer, then cures them with ultraviolet light, thus doing it layer by layer until printing is finished.

In addition, the head can also inject soluble material for the supports that are necessary.

Drop on Demand (DOD)

This technology is very similar to that applied by PolyJet, the main difference is that every time a layer is finished, the 3D printer uses a milling machine that they call a “fly-cutter” to polish the layer and leave it perfectly flat.

NanoParticle Jetting (NPJ) by XJet

This technology is like PolyJet and DOD, but in this case two types of liquids are used, both of which contain nanoparticles.

One of the liquids is for the construction material and the other is for the supports. The printer uses high temperatures to evaporate the liquid leaving only the solid parts.

To learn more about 3D printing and existing technologies visit our article What is 3D Printing?

Parts of a 3D printer

Linear bearing

They are bearings widely used in 3D printing for the movement of the machine axis-X and Y. As the name implies, they allow a free linear movement and consist of a moving part supported on a rail that allows its movement.

Linear bearing for a 3D Printer
Linear Bearing for a 3D printer

MK8 and MK10 Nozzles

MK (Mark) nozzles are manufactured by Makerbot, a well-known company in the world of 3D printing and current owners of Thingiverse (3D models website).

The MK8 nozzle has a 6mm screw, while the MK10 has a 7mm screw. Although initially the nozzles were designed for Makerbot printers, different manufacturers have taken these nozzles as standard for their own printers.

What's a MK8 nozzle?
MK 8 Nozzel

Extruder

Component responsible for heating and injecting the filament in liquid form onto a print bed.

Extruder of a 3D printer
Extruder Head

Direct Extrusion

It is the type of system where the mechanism that feeds the filament to the Hotend and the Hotend itself in the same extrusion head. That is, everything is integrated into the extrusion head.

Difference between Direct and Bowden extrusion
Difference between Direct and Bowden extrusion

Bowden extruder

The Bowden extruder is a filament feeding mechanism that pushes the filament through a tube to the nozzle. This mechanism is quite popular among 3D printer manufacturers and is the one used in the Creality Ender 3 printer. Here the mechanism that drives the filament is separate from the Hotend.

Bowden extruder of a 3D Printer
Bowden Extruder

Hotends

The Hotend is the final part where the filament is processed for 3D printing. It consists of nozzles, heating element, thermal insulation and mechanical interface for the extruder. E3D Hotends are one of the most popular in the world of 3D printing thanks to their robustness and reliability. https://e3d-online.com/

Hotend of a 3D printer
Hotend

Heated Bed

The heated bed is the part of the 3D printer that supports the model being 3D printed. Depending on the material used, it is necessary that it has a certain temperature to prevent deformation of the piece.

Heated Bed of a 3D Printer
Heated bed

Layer Fan

Layer fan is a fan that is used to cool the 3D printing layers. It is generally used with PLA and PETG filaments, it is usually kept off during the first printing layers.

What's the layer fan in a 3D printer
Layer Fan

Auto-leveling

It is a system that allows some 3D printers to level themselves automatically. This system can be included from the factory, or it could be a later modification adding a sensor for this purpose, such as the BLTouch (Amazon).

What's the auto-leveling in a 3D printer
BLTouch Sensor

Enclosure

This term refers to whether the 3D printer is closed or not.

What's an enclosure in a 3D printer
Printer not closed on the left, printer closed on the right

Heating Chamber

This term refers to 3D printers that have an enclosure and have a system that allows heating and controlling the internal temperature of the printing environment (within the printing volume).

Terms Used to Classify FDM 3D Printers According to their Kinematics

Cartesian

Cartesian 3D printers are those that base their linear motion on the Cartesian plane (X and Y axes). The Z-axis is the vertical axis and the 3 axes complete the 3 dimensions. Keep in mind that the most economical and commonly used Cartesian printers usually have a dynamic bed on the Y-axis.

The rectilinear 3D printers (H-Bot, CoreXY and Belt), Delta and SCARA, fall within the category of Cartesian 3D printers.

An example of a cartesian 3D printer is the Creality Ender 3.

Cartesian 3D Printer
Cartesian 3D printer (Creality Ender 3)

Core XY

In a 3D printer, Core CY is a mechanical arrangement for motion control. The system is composed of two stationary stepper motors and a set of pulleys and belts which allow the movements in the X and Y axes to be carried out independently or simultaneously.

To see more in detail how it works visit http://corexy.com/theory.html

Core XY 3D printer
Core XY

H-Bot

H-Bot 3D Printers have a mechanical system similar to the Core XY, but the pulley and belt arrangement is different. The Core XY system is usually more used than the H-Bot.

H-Bot 3D printer
H-bot

Delta

Delta 3D printers also base their movement on the Cartesian plane, the difference is that the printhead is connected to 3 arms which are installed on the Z-axis. The movement of the head in the X and Y planes depends on the angle of the arms with respect to the Z-axis. In this printer the bed is always static and generally circular.

Delta 3D Printer
Delta 3D Printer (Delta Go)

Polar

Polar 3D printers use a polar coordinate system, instead of a Cartesian coordinate system, therefore, they have a rotary printing bed.

What's a polar 3D printer?
Polar 3D Printer (Model R-360)

Belt

Instead of carrying a normal printing bed, these 3D printers carry a belt which allows a kind of serial production and production of elongated pieces.

Belt 3D printer
Belt 3D Printer (Model Creality CR-30)

SCARA (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm)

SCARA 3D printers use a robotic arm, to which the print head is attached to make the corresponding 3D prints.

SCARA 3D Printer
SCARA 3D Printer (Model Potterbot XLS-2)

Terms Used to Classify Resin 3D Printers According to their Kinematics

Bottom-Up 3D Printers

Bottom-Up 3D printers are the most common resin 3D printers, as they are cheaper to manufacture, and that is why we will find them as desktop printers for the average user.

They are easily recognized because the resin container is shallower, and the printing platform moves from bottom to top while the layers solidify (curing the resin), to obtain our impression.

These type of 3D printers usually have a force called Peel force, which makes 3D printing difficult and slow.

Difference Between Top-Down and Bottom-Up 3D Printers
Difference Between Top-Down and Bottom-Up 3D Printers (Image from Chitubox)

Top-Down 3D Printers

The Top-Down 3D printers are more expensive to manufacture. Resin containers are deeper, and the build platform moves from top to bottom. These types of resin 3D printers do not have Peel force.

Filaments for 3D printing

3D printing Filaments
3D printing filament

Filament

It is the base material used in the printing of 3D objects. A wide variety of filaments can be found in the market with different specifications and features. Below we will briefly explain the most popular filaments that can be found in the market.

PLA (Polylactic Acid)

PLA is one of the filaments easier to handle and more used in 3D printing. It has the great advantage that it is biodegradable since some of these are manufactured from a corn base.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

ABS is also one of the most popular filaments in 3D printing. It is not biodegradable.

PETG (Polyethylene terephthalate)

PETG is a filament that has been gaining ground in recent years and more and more users of 3D printers are using this material to manufacture their parts. This is because this material is somewhere in between the two aforementioned filaments (PLA and ABS).

TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane)

TPU is a very flexible material, it is widely used to build parts that require this property, for example, to make phone covers. However, we must mention that TPU is not a material that can be easily printed.

Nylon

Nylon is used in 3D printing for its flexibility, strength and duration. But it is not so easy to 3D print with it. It is prone to warping problems, and printers capable of reaching higher temperatures are often required to melt this material.

ASA (Acrylonitrile-styrene-acrylate)

The ASA filament could be considered as an alternative to ABS, since it has very similar characteristics as said material, with the exception that it is resistant to ultraviolet light. Compared to ABS, ASA is generally a more expensive material and is also not as easy to 3D print.

TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomers)

Filament characterized by its elasticity similar to rubber.

PC (Polycarbonate)

PC is a very strong, resistant filament and some grades are transparent. PC is not a material that can be 3D printed easily, that is, it is not suitable for beginners. In addition, the use of 3D printers with good performance is required to be able to print with it. It is also important to mention that it is a slightly more expensive material.

PP (Polypropylene)

It is quite light and mainly used for packaging and storage applications. It is one of the most difficult filaments to print.

PVA (polyvinyl alcohol)

It is a biodegradable and water soluble filament. Like HIPS, it is used as a support filament.

3D printing Filaments
3D Printing filaments

HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene)

The HIPS filament is used many times as a support filament in PLA or ABS prints. This material dissolves in limonene.

Wood

The wood filament is a mixture between PLA and wood fibers. The final product will have a wood finish and even smell of wood, depending on the manufacturer.

Composite with Metal

The composite with metal filament is a mixture of PLA with metallic powders (for example, copper, bronze, brass, stainless steel).

Metallic powder can also be mixed with ABS, although it is less common. Most often, between 30% and 50% of this filament is made up of metallic particles, of course these numbers will vary depending on the manufacturer.

Carbon Fiber Composite

The carbon fiber composite filaments come from mixing a base material (PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon, ASA, PC) with carbon fibers, thus giving the base material more resistance and rigidity, but with the disadvantage that carbon fiber is not usually impact resistant.

Conductive Filament

The conductive filaments are usually not more than the result of mixing PLA with small carbon particles, thus making this filament capable of conducting electricity.

We recommend you our Guide to select 3D printing filaments for further information about them.

Guide to Select a 3D printing Filament
Guide to Select a 3D printing Filament

3D Printer Electronics

Stepper Motor

They are the motors that are normally used in 3D printers, which are in charge of making the respective movements in each axis, and of feeding filament to the extruder.

Stepper Motor 3D printing
Stepper Motor

Motor Driver

It is the hardware that fulfills the function of supplying the voltage and amperage necessary to control the motors. Generally, one motor driver is used for each step motor that operates independently.

Motor driver 3D printer
Motor Driver

Controller

It is the brain of our 3D printer, everything is connected to this board, the Motor Driver, the screen, the fans, etc.

What's a controller in a 3D printer?
Ender 3 Pro Controller

RepRap Project

(Replicating Rapid Prototyper) Project born in 2005 in England to develop a low-cost 3D printer under free software and GNU licenses that allows you to print most of its components. All information can be found on their website reprap.org.

Marlin (Firmware)

Open Source Firmware developed by the RepRap project. It is used in Arduino processors and is responsible for controlling all the instructions of the 3D printer, such as: movement, temperature, levelling, among others. marlinfw.org

Marlin Firmware
Marlin Firmware

Arduino

Open Source software and hardware company that designs microcontrollers that are easy to program and are widely used to control 3D printers. arduino.cc

Arduino
Arduino Microcontroller

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a low-cost computer with a compact size. It can be connected to a computer monitor or a TV and used with a standard mouse and keyboard.

It is a small computer that runs a Linux operating system capable of allowing people to explore computing and learn to program languages such as Scratch and Python.

It can do most of the typical tasks of a desktop computer, from surfing the internet, playing high-resolution videos, manipulating office documents, to playing games. https://www.raspberrypi.org/

Raspberry Pi in 3D printing
Raspberry Pi

RAMPS

Also known as RepRap Arduino Mega Pololu Shield. It is the electronic board of the RepRap 3D printer, which has the Arduino Mega controller. Several versions can be found in the market, the most used are versions 1.3 and 1.4.

RAMPS 1.4
RAMPS 1.4

Motor Driver A4988

Stepper motor driver for 3D printers, it has a micro-step resolution of 1/16. They used to be part of the first generations of printers.

A4988 Moto driver 3D Printing
Motor Driver

Motor Driver DRV8825

Stepper motor controller manufactured by Texas Instruments for use in 3D printers and small-scale CNC applications due to their characteristics. They have a micro-step resolution of 1/32 and can deliver greater power than the A4988. https://reprap.org/wiki/DRV8825

Motor Driver TMC2100

Stepper motor controller manufactured by Trinamic and recommended by the RepRap project. One of its characteristics is its silent operation and conducts up to 2.5A of current at each output and the supply voltage is 5 to 46V.

Motor Driver TMC2208

Also manufactured by Trinamic is a controller very similar to the TMC2100 with current outputs up to 2A and supply voltage from 5 to 36V.

Reprap Full Graphics Display

Display compatible with RAMPS electronic board. It has an SD card reader, rotary encoder and an LCD display that allows control of the printer directly from the display without the need to have a PC connected. https://reprap.org/wiki/RepRapDiscount_Full_Graphic_Smart_Controller

Reprap Full Graphics Display 3D Printing
RepRap Graphic Dislpay

RepRapDiscount Smart Controller

This screen is designed to work with the RepRap board and has an SD card reader. All printer functions can be controlled from this device and with it, a PC is not required to print a 3D part. https://reprap.org/wiki/RepRapDiscount_Smart_Controller

RepRapDiscount Smart Controller
RepRap Smart Controller

If you think we should add new terms related to 3D printing, do not hesitate to make your contribution in the comments section!

Cheers!

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