3D Printing Definitions and Acronyms Dictionary


3D printing can be complicated to those who aren’t seasoned makers. SLA, FDM, CAD – what do they all mean? Therefore, we created a list of all the 3D printing definitions and acronyms in our dictionary resource. This includes all the acronyms for the 3D printing technologies, 3D printer materials, and more.

3D Printing Acronyms

3DP – Three Dimensional Printing (3D Printing).

ABS – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene: A 3D printer material usually used with an FDM 3D printer which is stronger than PLA and requires higher temperatures to extrude. FDM 3D printers need a heated print bed to print ABS.

AM – Additive Manufacturing: The process of building a part through adding layers to the part from scratch, rather than starting with a block and removing layers (as in CNC).

BJ – Binder Jetting: A metal 3D printing technology which involves depositing a binding agent onto a powder bed to form a part.

CAD – Computer Aided Design.

CLIP – Continuous Light Interface Production: A 3D printing technology utilized by Carbon 3D to create parts far faster than most other technologies. Uses a similar technology to Stereolithography.

CNC – Computer Numerical Control: A subtractive manufacturing method involving a machine removing parts from a block of material to create the finished part. An alternative to 3D printing and additive manufacturing.

DLP – Digital Light Processing: A similar technology to stereolithography, instead using a video projector rather than a laser.

DED – Direct Energy Deposition: A form of metal 3D printing used by companies such as Sciaky and Optomec to create metal parts.

DMD – Direct Metal Deposition

DMLS – Direct Metal Laser Sintering: One of the most common metal 3D printing technologies, DMLS is similar to Selective Laser Sintering in that material powders are fused layer-by-layer in a process of powder bed fusion, though with SLS plastics are used rather than metals with DMLS.

DMP – Direct Metal Printing (3D Systems).

EBAM – Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing: Used by Sciaky in their metal 3D printers, it is not to be confused with Electron Beam Melting as EBAM is actually a form of Direct Energy Deposition (DED) 3D printing.

EBM – Electron Beam Melting: A form of metal 3D printing used by companies such as Arcam that is similar to DMLS but instead uses an electron beam rather than a laser.

FDM – Fused Deposition Modeling: The most common and affordable method of 3D printing. Involves plastic filament being heated up and then extruded, layer-by-layer to create the finished part.

FFF – Fused Filament Fabrication: An alternative name for FDM.

GCODE – 3D printing model and CNC file format (.gcode).

HIPS – High Impact Polystyrene: 3D printer filament similar to ABS, though it is soluble in limonene. This makes is a good material for printing supports with FDM.

LENS – Laser Engineered Net Shaping: Metal 3D printing technology used by Optomec, and a form of Direct Energy Deposition.

LMD – Laser Metal Deposition: A 3D printing process which uses a laser beam to fuse and cast metals.

LS – Laser Sintering

LWC – Lost Wax Casting: Can be used along with 3D printing technologies to create 3D printed jewelry.

MJ – Material Jetting

MJF – Multi Jet Fusion: A new 3D printing technology patented by HP in their new 3D printers. Offers the possibility of full-color plastic parts.

PA – Polyamide: PA12 Nylon powders are often used in SLS, and Nylon is also used in 3D printing.

PC – Polycarbonate filament – another 3D printer filament used in FDM.

PET – PolyEthylene Terephthalate – material used in FDM with added glycol as PETG filament.

PID – PID Tuning: proportional-integral-derivative controls which are used for heated beds and hot ends in many RepRap 3D printers.

PJ – PolyJet: A 3D printing technology which allows for both incredibly smooth surface finishes and very good accuracy. Also allows for full-color models and multiple materials within the same part. Involves depositing photopolymers that are cured by being exposed to a UV light.

PLA – Polylactic Acid: A thermoplastic made from corn starch commonplace only used in FDM 3D printing.

PP – Polypropylene – another 3D printer filament used in FDM.

PS – Polystyrene – another 3D printer filament used in FDM.

PVA – Polyvinyl Alcohol – another 3D printer filament used in FDM.

RepRap – Replicating Rapid Prototypers – open source 3D printers which use FDM to create parts of additional 3D printers, to then create more printers, in a process of self-replication.

RM – Rapid Manufacturing

RP – Rapid Prototyping

RT – Rapid Tooling

SLA – Stereolithography: The first 3D printing technology to be invented, involves a laser curing photopolymer resins in a resin tank to create a part. Used by many resin 3D printers.

SLM – Selective Laser Melting: Similar to Direct Metal Laser Sintering, except SLM involves actually melting metal powders beyond melting points whereas DMLS does not.

SLS – Selective Laser Sintering: A form of powder bed fusion which uses a laser to sinter plastic material powders to create an object, layer-by-layer.

STL – 3D printing file format (.stl). The dominant file format for 3D printer models such as those you can download from Thingiverse and upload to online 3D printing services.

TPE – Thermoplastic Elastomer: A flexible, rubbery 3D printing thermoplastic used often with FDM.

TPU – Thermoplastic Polyurethane

ULTEM – A 3D printing material thermoplastic which has properties including extra thermal resistance, high strength, and good chemical resistance.

For more information on 3D printing, check out:

  • The best 3D printing courses
  • Uses of 3D printing – top 15 applications
  • What is 3D printing / Additive Manufacturing?
  • The complete guide to rapid prototyping


“Our printers don’t just print objects, they print ‘oops’, ‘ah-ha’, and ‘not again’ moments.”


Like it? Share with your friends!


Meet the mastermind behind NozzleNerds.com: GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
The Classic Internet Listicles
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Youtube and Vimeo Embeds
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Photo or GIF
GIF format