3D Printer – A machine capable of depositing material in an X, Y and Z dimension to create a three-dimensional object. This is an Additive Manufacturing process that can use plastics, metals, food, concrete and even living tissue. An SLA printer can also use a laser to solidify liquid material to form the part (See Definition of SLA below).

3D Scanner – A machine that measures angle and distance to convert a physical object into a 3D computer digitized object. Being made up of points, lines, and faces with X, Y and Z coordinates. Some scanners rotate the object on a turntable others are handheld units that you walk around the object. The first scanners were handheld arms with pointers on them and joints that sent the angles to the computer and from that, the point on the object was calculated. This would take many hours to get simple shapes digitized.

3MF– A Microsoft sponsored, an open-source format for translating CAD data into 3D printable/ additive manufacturable data. Windows 10 has VS Express built-in to print 3D parts.

ABS or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene – A plastic known for its impact resistance and toughness. A common thermoplastic polymer that has a glass transition temperature of approximately 105 °C (221 °F), and technically does not have a melting point.

AM or Additive Manufacturing – A process where the raw material is built-up or deposited in layers to build the part.As opposed to cutting away or casting material to form the part.

CAD or Computer Aided Design – A file format for AutoCAD in engineering or drafting. Can be 2D or 3D.

CNC or Computer Numerical Control – A way of cutting or welder using computers to control the machine tool. Which could be a drill, router, or cutting torch.

DICOM  or Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine – A file format used to save medical images from an X-RAY, MRI or CAT scans.

Extruder – Called the “Hot End” – A part of the 3D Printer where the plastic filament is heated to the proper temperature and ejected to form the part. Made up of a tube where plastic enters 3 zones, Cool, Transition and Hot. A Thermistor is used to detect the current temperature of the hot zone and report back to the controller that operates the heater in the heater block. The hot plastic exits the nozzle tip ready to be fused to the previous layer.

FDM–or Fused Deposition Modeling – What a 3D printer is that extrudes plastic to build the part.

Filament – The raw material used and is deposited from the extruder in a 3D printer. Normally comes in a roll of 1000 grams. The development of many types and colors are available, from the standard PLA, ABS, PET, wood to carbon fiber.

G-Code – A list of primitive instructions used by the 3D printer’s computer system to control its operation to build a part layer by layer.

Glass Transition Temperature – The transition of a material from a hard and relatively brittle “glassy” state into a viscous or rubbery state as the temperature is increased.

Infill – A part that is not solid has an outer shell of plastic but can have a percentage of fill on the inside of the part to save on time and material.

Jerk – An action or setting made to the movements of the stepper motors during travel.

Print Jerk – The maximum instantaneous velocity changes of the print head
Travel Jerk – The maximum instantaneous velocity change with which travel moves are made.

Photogrammetry – A computer process that converts a large set of 2D photos into a 3D object. The software stitches the images together and calculates a point cloud of data and converts that into a 3D mesh. An open source program available is Regard3d + Tutorial/Documentation: http://www.regard3d.org/

PLA or Polylactic acid – A biodegradable thermoplastic that is made from renewable resources, such as cornstarch, roots, chips or sugarcane. Overheating passed 200 °C can damage the structure. It has a melting point of 150 to 160 °C (302 to 320 °F) For 3D printing, it is not as strong as ABS, but easier to make successful high detail prints. It also has low toxic emissions.

Rapid Prototyping or Real-Time Prototyping – The quick ability to make a part using 3D Printing technology and physically see a part from CAD files.

RepRap or Replicating Rapid Prototyper – Starting in 2005 by Dr. Adrian Bowyer, an engineering at the University of Bath in England strive to develop an affordable 3D printer made from parts from a 3D printer.

Retraction – The reversal of filament to maintain control of softened material exiting the nozzle at the end of a build line.

Slicer – A computer application that converts the STL or 3D Files into G-Code. It uses very specific variables defined for the 3D printer that it will be running on and the material the part will made from.

Stepper Motor – A DC electric motor that is controlled by pulses to turn with accurate rotation. Defined in degrees of turn. Attached to the X, Y & Z axis and extruder to precisely control their movements.

SLA or Stereolithographic Apparatus – a 3D printing technology that works via a process called vat photopolymerization. Objects are built in layers using a Stereolithographic Apparatus, or SLA for short. This works using a laser beam to trace out and solidify each successive layer of an object on the surface (or base) of a vat of liquid photopolymer.

STL file or Stereolithography File – A standard format developed in the 80’s to define an object in 3D space.

Support Material – During the building process, if the part has an overhang or tunnels, it will need help to keep it from sagging so a scaffolding will be built under that section and removed after completion.