3D printing glossary

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3D printing

Spatial printing – the technology of producing objects by overlapping multiple layers of material (incremental). To print an object in 3D, a computer model is needed created in CAD. Currently, there are many techniques – FFF, SLS, CJP. In 3D printing, plastics (ABS, ASA, HIPS, PET-G) are used. 3D printers can print prototypes, tools and molds, but also finely shaped final products for use as final products.

3D scan

A process that collects large amounts of point coordinates from an actual existing object and then moves them to the appropriate software. This transfer takes place by the interacting of the measuring device with the object. A laser beam is used for this purpose.

A

ABS

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene – one of the most popular plastic materials used for 3D printing in FFF technology, which is characterised by its strength and hardness, scratch resistance and insulating properties. ABS is not UV resistant. It is extruded at 230-260°C and used in printers with a heated work table. ABS can be used to create final pieces, parts for cars, and to produce home appliances, spare parts, electronics and toys. It is also used in prototyping and tooling. Find out more about ABS-42.

Additive manufacturing

Also known as 3D printing. An incremental technology that gradually overlaps layers of materials, resulting in a three-dimensional model. There are different methods of incremental production, such as FFF, SLS and SLA. The opposite of additive technology is subtraction, such as CNC, in which the target models are cut from a piece of material.

Adhesive agent

An aerosol substance that is used to coat the work platform of the device to provide adhesion to 3D models. Intended for use in 3D printers with a heated work table, the agent is characterised by an increase in adhesion relative to increasing working temperature. An insufficient level of adhesion may cause it to tear off the platform while the printer is operating.

ASA

Acrylonitrile styrene acrylate – a filament characterised by strength, stiffness and above all resistance to atmospheric conditions (UV light) and thermal stability. It does not turn yellow. Due to its high gloss and high quality finish, it is widely used for the production of various types of outdoor installations. More about ASA-39.

B

Bridge

A part of a model that is suspended between two points. A bridge that is too long can result in deformation of the model. Because of this, the bridge is subject to special control and conversion during the preparation of a project file. A long bridge should be supported by a support structure.

C

CAD

Computer Aided Design – a concept that defines different computer-aided design processes. CAD refers to geometric modeling that produces a three-dimensional representation of a design element. This term is used to refer to computer programs related to 3D modeling.

CAD model

A three-dimensional model developed by computer programs. It contains information about geometry, but also about the topological boundaries of an object.

CAE

Computer Aided Engineering – has a wider range than CAD and refers to all the hardware and software that make engineering calculations.

CAM

Computer Aided Manufacturing – a computer system integrating the design process with the manufacturing process. Based on a computer drawing, CAM creates toolpaths – then changes to machine-readable (G-Code) functions. For 3D printing, there is a separate software for generating G-Code.

CJP

Color Jet Printing – a 3D printing technology that consists of bonding layers of powdered material with a binder. The process starts with pouring material of an appropriate layer height. The binder is then applied selectively. Unused powder acts as a natural support. After the 3D printing is completed, the model is extracted and cleaned. What distinguishes this method is the ability to create fully coloured designs and complicated geometry. However, the models are not highly durable, and thus are suitable for concept models.

D

Digitisation

In reverse engineering, this is the process of archiving, or transforming a real object into a digital, three-dimensional form. Digitisation is possible thanks to 3D scanners.

DLP

Digital Light Processing – an incremental 3D printing technique using light cure resins. Resin film is emitted by the projector; after curing, the print is lifted, making room for another resin layer and another image is projected. Such prints are characterised by high quality detail reproduction; therefore, DLP is used in medicine, jewellery and electronics. The disadvantage may be the long duration of 3D printing.

DMLS

Digital Metal Laser Sintering – a 3D printing technology using powdered metal. In this process, the layer is sintered selectively by laser light. Building materials include stainless steels and bronze, cobalt and titanium alloys. It is necessary to use supports. Models have similar characteristics as metal elements produced by traditional methods.

E

Extruder

A 3D printer component that feeds the filament at a certain rate and quantity. An important part of the extruder is the head for heating the filament into a plastic mold. Incorrect calibration of the extruder can lead to damage of the filament even before it is applied to the nozzle.

Extrusion

Feeding of the melted plastic by the extruder.

Endstop

Limit switch; a transmitter that limits the movement of the 3D printer beyond the maximum allowable. It protects the extruders and printheads – when the tip is at the extreme X/Y axis, the engine stops. Once activated, the device should find its position by reaching 0/0.

F

FFF

Fused Filament Fabrication – a concept equivalent to FDM®. In 3D printing technology, a three-dimensional model is created by melting the material and placing it in layers on a working platform where the material becomes solid. When the entire layer is ready, the working platform is lowered by the height specified in the 3D printer driver and the process is repeated. 3D printers using FFF technology may have one or more heads. In this case, different materials, such as additional supports, are used simultaneously, which allows the creation of more complex shapes. In FFF technology, prototypes, tools and final products can be created.

Filament

Material for 3D printing in FFF technology. Filaments are thermoplastics such as PLA, ABS, HIPS, PC or nylon, wound on a spool in the form of a line. They can have a diameter of 1.75 mm to 3 mm. Filaments differ in their strength, resistance to moisture and external factors; some can have contact with food (PET-G-32), others dissipate electrostatic charges (PET-G-32-ESD). In the spatial printing process, the filament is melted by the high temperature of the 3D printing device nozzle.

Firmware

Built-in 3D printer internal software, which is its compatible part. It is used to operate the device and is responsible for interpreting commands and sending signals to heaters, motors or fans.

G

G-Code

A software language that is used to control 3D printers. It is a command-writing language and indicates what actions are to be taken by the printer. All data on components and motors are saved in this code. It is responsible for head position and temperature, extrusion orders and filament retention.

H

HIPS

High Impact Polystyrene – a filament mainly used to create supports during 3D printing. It can be used with all materials except nylon. It is characterised by ease of firing, which is why it is used to print lost molds in the molding industry. More about HIPS-20.

Heated chamber

The 3D heated chamber has a work area that is closed on each side, which together with the air heating system allows a set temperature to be maintained within the printed model. Thanks to the heated chamber, it is possible to reduce the material shrinkage effect during work, which allows the printing of large models of such filaments as ABS, PC/ABS or PA6/66.

Head

Part of the extruder, including the nozzle. The head is the element that melts and distributes material on the work surface. In addition to the nozzle, it consists of a heater, a thermistor and a connector providing thermal insulation between the head and the extruder.

I

Infill

Filling of the inside of a model printed in 3D. The level of filling depends on the strength of the object, as well as its weight. When the strength of a model needs to be increased, full filling is often used or special internal structures such as grating or honeycomb. When the mass needs to be lowered, the infill percentage is reduced.

IGES

Initial Graphics Exchange Specification – a neutral format for saving graphics data, enabling digital information exchange for computer-aided systems (CAD). This standard supports documentation and technical drawings, geometric and non-geometric data.

M

MJM

MultiJet Modeling – an incremental manufacturing technology in which a photopolymer layer cured by a UV is applied to the printing platform by the printing head. The head also sprays the support material. MJM allows the use up to several materials at once, providing the opportunity to achieve a different hardness and colour in one print. Advantages include the precision of models, their cleanliness and no additional processing. MJM is used in the manufacture of small parts, electronics enclosures and precision prototypes with lots of details.

Material shrinkage

A phenomenon that occurs printing in 3D when the molten filament cools and shrinks at the same time. The heated chambers allow gradual cooling of the model so that this effect can be controlled during the printing process.

N

NURBS

Non Uniform Rational Basis Spline – a technology in CAD systems that presents surfaces as described by mathematical equations of curves. This description is accurate, but involves a longer rendering time.

Nozzle

The bottom end of the head from which the filament flows. It has direct contact with the print and is heated to a temperature that allows the material to liquefy. Nozzles of different sizes are used – 0.1 to 0.8 mm.

O

Overhang

Fragment of a model with a significant angle of inclination from the vertical axis. For 3D printing, the software adds support at these points. After printing, they are removed manually from the finished model.

Offset X/Y

Distance between the right and left head (its nozzles). Each time the head modules are unscrewed, this value must be calibrated again by a test print.

P

PA-6/66

Nylon – a synthetic polymer with high strength and elasticity. It is more flexible than ABS filament and is used in the 3D printing of gears. Learn more about PA-6/66.

PC-ABS

Polycarbonate – a material used for 3D printing of parts that require strength and load resistance. It requires a 3D printing device with a heated work table and high temperature nozzles, because the melting point of the filament is 280-305°C. Read about PC-ABS-47.

PET-G

Polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified – a low-shrink filament, high accuracy when 3D printing. Because it can be sterilised, it is used in the food and medical sectors. In addition, PET-G-32 ESD has antistatic properties. Find out more about PET-G-32 and PET-G-32-ESD.

Photogrammetry

A technique that combines all the captures of a series of images. Cameras are involved in this process, and the series is based on characteristic common points or geometric features. The technique does not use its own light source.

PLA

Polyacrylate, polylactic acid – a biodegradable polymer made from natural resources such as corn meal, potatoes and sugar beets. It is more fragile and stiffer than ABS, does not require a heated table when printing and shrinks during cooling. It is used for the 3D printing of dental implants, biodegradable cutlery and dishes – wherever high strength is not required. Widely used in desktop 3D printers.

Points cloud

A set of XYZ coordinates that is created as a result of scanning 3D objects. The detail of the scan increases directly in proportion to the density of points in the area. The cloud is transformed into further operations in a CAD model.

PolyJet

Additive 3D printing technology in which the building material is acrylic resin. It is cured by photopolymerisation. The material only covers the geometry of the object being built, and after curing the layer, the table is lowered and the cycle is repeated. In places with a complicated construction, the heads dispense support material, which is then removed manually or dissolved. PolyJet is characterised by its accuracy and speed.

R

Raft

Part of the 3D print created in the first stage of the 3D printing process. The raft consists of several layers of material. They are designed to improve the adhesion of the object to the work area, prevent its edge from curling, and provide a smooth bottom.

Rapid prototyping

Production of objects in a fast, accurate and repeatable manner. The goal is to be able to test and correct errors while maintaining high precision and a low unit cost.

Retractility

A process aimed at preventing leakage of filament from the 3D printer head. It involves the retraction of hot material during the change of head position.

Reverse engineering

Feedback programming – the process of examining parts, subassemblies or products to determine how an item works and how it is made. The process is carried out without technical documentation or technical drawings. The goal is to create a counterpart or achieve the functionality of the prototype. 3D scanning and additive production are used in the process.

S

SHS

Selective Heat Sintering – an alternative to SLS technology, where models are made of high temperature sintered powder. With this technology, there is no need for additional support materials.

Simplify 3D

A program that converts STL information to G-Code, where the print capacity, print quality and support types can be selected.

Slicing

A process that involves dividing the design of a model into layers of a certain height and, if necessary, generating supports. It changes a model into commands that control the 3D printer, which determines the the quality of the print.

STEP

Standard for the Exchange of Product Data – a data recording format used to record three-dimensional models. It can be read by CAD, CAM, CAE programs. STEP files contain the same information as IGES and some additional information: material properties (mass), tolerances, topology.

STEP

Standard for the Exchange of Product Data – a data recording format used to record three-dimensional models. It can be read by CAD, CAM, CAE programs. STEP files contain the same information as IGES and some additional information: material properties (mass), tolerances, topology.

Stereolithography

SLA – a printing technique using a photosensitive resin and a photopolymerisation process, in other words, laser beam hardening. SLA is considered to be the first rapid prototyping technology.

STL

The format of writing a grid of triangles in which the grid is described by numbers (4-5 digits). Due to the lack of data about which vertices are common, the use of STL may lead to errors.

Support

Material used in 3D printing that supports elements of an object at a significant angle of inclination from the vertical axis, for example parallel to the working platform. Soluble filaments are often used in this case, which can easily be removed after 3D printing is completed.

W

Working platform

A glass or acrylic table that is used to build a 3D model. There are different types of work platforms – some can be equipped with heating, allowing 3D printing from materials such as ABS or ASA.

Worktable calibration

A process that aims to align the work table of a 3D printer. The operation can be done manually or automatically and the printhead is the reference point.

T

Tooling

In 3D printing tooling is the production of tools in a fast, accurate and repeatable way, less costly than traditional production methods (CNC). In 3D printing, components such as machine parts and production lines, robotic grippers, sand casting molds and positioning tools can be produced.

Triangle grid

The polygon of a 3D model, formed by flat triangles, connecting at least one side and forming a closed block.