3D Printing Terminology

Here is our quick guide to get you familiar with some terms used in 3D printing.

Additive Manufacturing: The process of creating a 3D object by fusing one layer on another, rather than removing or carving out material, such as in traditional machining.

Bridge: The area between two pillars that is printed "on air."Use support structure to avoid drooping. See "support structure."

Brim: A brim (photo on the left) is used to add more perimeters to the first layer, as a base flange, in order to provide more surface area for the print to stick to the bed. The brim is then cut away once the print is finished and removed from the bed. It is very useful for small objects and tall structures with small surface contact areas. The brim can be determined in the slicer settings. A raft is also an option for such prints.

Build Plate: Surface on which the 3D printer creates objects.

Build Volume: The maximum size of a physical object that you can create on your printer.

Extruder: The part of your 3D printer that does the actual melting of the plastic and extrudes it layer by layer onto the print bed. The ZEUS' extruder is easily removable for quick troubleshooting.

​FDM: Fused Deposition Modeling (displayed on the left). An additive manufacturing process in which plastic is heated through an extruder laid onto the build plate layer by layer. Read more here.

Filament: Thermoplastic material used in your 3D printer that must be fed through the extruder to be melted into the appropriate layers for printing (shown below). Read more about filament and thermoplastics here.

Gcode: The final, sliced file format that your printer will use as directions to create your object. This is the result of slicing an STL file. The gcode is programmed with your chosen resolution and density settings. See "slicing" for more info.

Infill: Refers to the density of a printed object and the resulting support structure within the object. Can be altered in the slicing process. To create a fully solid object, the infill would have to be at 100%. Photo courtesy of gambody.com.

Layer Height: The thickness of each layer of your print (determines resolution) in microns or micrometers. ZEUS has options to print with a layer height of up to 80 microns.Photo courtesy of MassPrint3D.

Overhang: When a printed layer extends outward over an unsupported area. Use support structure to avoid drooping.

Raft: A raft will add additional layers underneath the model and stems from the early days of 3D printing. It is typically used for prints that do not have a large surface area at the contact point of the build plate. The raft is removable and is stronger and thicker than a brim. Photo courtesy of nicklievendag.com.

Resolution: A measure of the surface finish of your print, determined by layer height. Can be adjusted in the slicer settings.

SLA: Stereolithography Apparatus (displayed on the right). Read about SLA here.​

Slicing: The process by which a 3D model is translated into layers that the 3D printer can read. The resulting file is called a "gcode" file. Slicer settings determine speed of print, density or infill, and resolution. The way a file is sliced will also determine whether there is support structure, raft, or a brim.

STL: Stereolithographic file format that is one of the most common formats used in 3D printing. This format is editable and must be sliced by a slicer to form the final gcode format. An example of an STL file viewed on the ZEUS' file viewer is shown on the left.

Support Structure: Removable scaffolding that allows printing of parts of an object that would otherwise be unsupported or "printing on air." The built-in slicer onboard ZEUS allows you to create appropriate support structure for your print with the touch of a button so you don't need to calculate it by yourself into your design.

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