3D Glossary



ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a thermoplastic. ABS plastic is used for extrusion-based 3D printing. Want more information? Click here

APS (acrylate photopolymer resin) is a resin used by Formlabs Form 1 3D printer. The resin is used in stereolithography 3D printing, which cures using UV(ultraviolet) process.


Build Volume represents the total printable area for a 3D printer. The build volume for a printer is usually provided in both inches and millimeteres.


CAD (computer-aided design) software is used to model a design on the computer. 3D CAD software, such as Solidworks or AutoCAD, can be used to design a 3D object for printing with a 3D printer.


Micron (symbol ยต) is a metric unit of measure commonly used to define the print resolution for 3D printers. A micron is one-millionth of a meter and there are 25,400 microns per inch.


PLA (polylactic acid) is a thermoplastic made from renewable resources such as corn starch, tapioca roots and sugarcane. PLA is used in extrusion-based 3D printing. Besides 3D printing, PLA is used for a variety of manufactured products including compostable packaging material. PLA is recyclable, with SPI resin identification code 7, and degrades into innocuous lactic acid. Want more information? Click here


Stereolithography is a process for transforming CAD drawings into solid 3D objects. Stereolithography makes use of a liquid photopolymer, like APS, and an ultraviolet laser. Thin layers of the liquid plastic harden when exposed to the ultraviolet laser. Want more information? Click here

STL is a file format (STereoLithography or Standard Tessellation Language) that is used in stereolithography CAD software. STL has become a standard file format for 3D printing and describes the surface geometry of an object. Want more information? Click here


Thermoplastic is a polymer with physical properties that change based on temperature. Thermoplastics become pliable or moldable above a specific temperature, but return to a solid when cooled. Thermoplastics are used in extrusion-based 3D printing and usually comes in a spool that is fed through the 3D printer, heated and added in small droplets to the object. Want more information? Click here

Last Updated 5/19/2013

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