3D Printing Glossary

The following is a glossary of frequent 3D printing terms.  I know when I first begun getting into 3D printing there were a lot of acronyms and then some words I was familiar with but meant something different in the context of 3D printing.  I hope this glossary is helpful, its a work in progress and will be constantly updated.  

3D Scanner 

A device that uses lasers to 'record' the state of a physical object and render it digitally in 3D, enabling it to be printed‚Äč


Acrylonitrile Butadience Styrene is a commonly used non-biodegradable thermoplastic polymer 


Computer-Aided Design techniques and software that allow a designer to virtually model an object in 3D 


The part of the 3D printer that melts and extrudes the filament through a hot end



The material extruded to print the object


Fused Deposition Modeling is a technique of 3D printing and is a trademark of Stratasys, so the equivalent term of FFF is often used instead


Fused Filament Fabrication the process of building an object from bottom to top by extruding filament


Given in percentage or as a digit from 0 to 1, it describes how full or hollow your object will be


A maker is someone who creates objects, in our particular context making objects using a 3D printer but a maker is generally someone who makes things from scratch and/or parts


An editable object file, however unlike a STEP file this cannot be edited in all CAD software


Reducing the thickness of an object toward one end


Polyactic Acid is a biodegradeable thermoplastic.  It is used as a material for 3D printing and is made of renewable resources such as corn and sugar cane


A plane is a two dimensional surface


The tray inside the printer on which the object is built 


‚ÄčAlso called Layer Height, the resolution is the thickness of the individual layers of plastic used in a design

SD Card

External storage device that can store different kinds of files.  They are often used to transfer the 3D files to the 3D printer


The outside surface of a model

Spool holder

The part that holds the spool of filament 


Another computer file format, this type of file is used for cross platform object creation



Wall thickness

The thickness of the external walls of your model, needs to be thick enough in order to print properly