3D Printing Glossary

Here you will find explanations of terms related to additive manufacturing.


XML-based file format for 3D printing, developed specifically with additive manufacturing in mind. It contains information about color, texture and material and allows to render 3D models for a variety of applications, platforms, services and printers.

Additive manufacturing processes in which objects are produced on the basis of 3D data using a 3D printer.
You can find an overview of our 3D printing processes on our technology pages.


Refers to processes in which objects are built up from 3D data layer by layer from a base material. Commonly, the term 3D printing is used colloquially. However, AM does not only mean the actual printing, but the entire process from a 3D printing optimized design to prototyping and series production using 3D printing.
Learn more about this on our overview page.


Smallest cuboid in which a part can fit.


In this process, the 3D printed part is suspended in a closed apparatus in which solvent is evaporated. The solvent vapor results in parts with smooth and homogeneous surfaces, which are close to those of injection molded parts.
Learn what other surface finishing options are available for 3D printed parts.

Automated process on computer to create designs, instead of drawing by hand. These designs can be 2D drawings as well as 3D models.


Method and ability to design or redesign parts and products for additive manufacturing using 3D printers so that they can be manufactured more cheaply, quickly and effectively.
Learn more about DfAM in our knowledge database.

Option to make 3D printed parts pressure-tight. Thereby, the part is immersed in a Dichtol bath, whereby the impregnation penetrates into the open pores and seals them reliably.
Learn what other surface finishing options are available for 3D printed parts.

For dyeing 3D printed parts, textile dye is used, which penetrates the surface of the parts.
Learn what other surface finishing options are available for 3D printed parts.


Plastics with a softening temperature below room temperature. They are dimensionally stable but elastic, i.e. they can deform when subjected to tensile and compressive loads, but then return to their original shape. The main fields of application for elastomers include rubber bands, seals or tires.

ESD, electrostatic discharge, occurs when a sudden equalization of charge takes place between two bodies with different voltage potentials. It can cause damage especially in electronic parts but also in many other manufacturing and production processes. ESD-safe materials can help prevent this.
More information about ESD and ESD-safe materials especially in 3D printing can be found in our knowledge database.


For parts that have to meet high mechanical requirements, it is possible to manufacture them from fiber-reinforced plastics. These plastics contain an additional filling percentage of mostly carbon or glass fibers and are thus characterized by very good mechanical properties.
Learn more about our fiber reinforced filaments for the FDM process in our blog.

Aim to cover as many technical functions as possible with as few parts as possible.

3D printing process in which a part is built up layer by layer from molten plastic or metal.
You can learn more about this process on our technology page.


see Additive Manufacturing

Iterative process in which special software is used to obtain optimized parts. The starting point is basic information, such as constraints, requirements, materials and manufacturing methods, which the software then uses to generate a range of different designs.
Generative design makes it possible to create highly innovative design options and can help achieve significant material and cost savings.


3D printing Process in which the powdered starting material is melted with two binding fluids (agents) and two energy sources to form a part.
The process is currently considered the fastest and most economical 3D printing process and is particularly suitable for the production of high-quality prototypes, functional parts and small batches.
More information about the process can be found on our technology page.


Primary forming manufacturing process that is usually used as a mass production process. In injection molding, the parts are manufactured by filling a mold with molten material, which then cools and hardens. The materials used can be metal, glass, elastomers and thermoplastic and thermoset polymers.
In our knowledge database you will find a comparison between injection molding and 3D printing.


Due to the great design freedom of additive manufacturing, lattice structures can be easily implemented in 3D printed parts. They can be used to make parts lighter and at the same time stronger, more resistant, more flexible or more resilient. The use of lattice structures also allows material and weight to be saved.


Interlacing of multiple parts so that the smallest enclosing cuboid is minimized.


3D printed parts can be painted with two to three top coats after removal of any visible build stages and priming. In this way, high-quality surfaces on visible parts can be realized.
Learn what other surface finishing options are available for 3D printed parts.

Process in additive manufacturing in which parts that have to be manufactured and assembled from several individual parts using conventional manufacturing processes are designed and produced directly as one part. This is possible because even complex geometries such as overhangs and channels in parts can be easily implemented in 3D printing.


Powder-based 3D printing process in which the individual powder layers of the starting material are fused by a laser to form the finished part.
Learn more about SLS on our technology page.

By shooting high-quality blasting material onto the surface of the 3D printed part, it is compacted and given a slightly velvety and smoothed feel. It also provides higher scratch resistance compared to non-smoothed surfaces.
Learn what other surface finishing options are available for 3D printed parts.

File format introduced in 1987 and considered the current industry standard in additive manufacturing. The format stores the surfaces of a 3D model in the form of tessellations. That means the surface of the model is encoded by numerous triangles covering the model.

Subtractive manufacturing is considered a conventional method of part manufacturing. The starting point is usually cuboid or round blocks made of metal or plastic, from which a molded body is produced through the controlled removal of material. This is done by machining processes such as turning, milling, grinding or drilling, which are performed manually or by a computer numerical control (CNC).

Learn about the differences between subtractive and additive manufacturing.

Necessary in case of overhangs, meaning when layers to be placed overhang the preceding ones and an angle is formed, to prevent the material from sagging. Due to the technology, support structures are mainly required for fusion layering (FDM) and have to be removed manually after printing. In powder bed-based processes, on the other hand, the non-cured powder serves as support, which is why these also offer greater design freedom.


Plastics that can be easily deformed by applying heat. This process is reversible, i.e. by cooling and reheating to the molten state, the material can be plastically deformed as often as desired.

Computer-aided method for optimizing part geometry. Thereby, intelligent algorithms are used and various framework conditions, such as the force effects on the part, are specified. This results in special structures, each optimized for a specific application, such as extreme lightweight construction.


Finishing method for MJF and SLS parts to obtain smooth and homogeneous surfaces and rounded edges. For this purpose, the parts are placed in a vibrating trough with grinding stones, which produces uniform abrasion.
Learn what other surface finishing options are available for 3D printed parts.

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