3D Printing Terminology

3D printing is a method of creating 3-dimensional objects from a computer aided design (CAD) file. There are different styles of 3D printing, but Dremel 3D printers use the Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) process to extrude molten plastics layer by layer, creating a 3D object. Here is a list of commonly used terms to help familiarize you with the technology:



3D ModelA virtual 3D object typically produced in a CAD program.
3D ModelingThe act of using a computer aided design software to generate a 3D Virtual object.
3D PrinterAn additive manufacturing machine that produces a 3D object by building one layer at a time.
3D PrintingThe act of using an additive manufacturing machine to produce a 3D object.


Additive ManufacturingThe process of building an object one layer at a time.


Bed TemperatureTemperature of the heated build surface to aid in better adhesion of the filament.
BeltTypically a fiber reinforced toothed gear belt, used to transfer movement from a stepper motor to a component of the printer.
BrimA single layer printed around an object to prevent warping. Similar to a brim of a top hat.
BridgeWhen the printer is required to print a layer on top of a gap without supports. Just like a bridge over a stream.
BrittlenessA property of a material that will break without much deformation.
Build PlateThe surface of which the model is printed on. This can be a fixed or removable surface. A.K.A Print Bed or Print Platform.
Build ResolutionGenerally refers to the height of the layer being printed. Similar to the resolution of a TV, the thinner the resolution lines (or layer height) the better the resolution (visual quality).
Build TimeThe time it takes a printer to complete the model.


CAD (Computer Aided Design)A software used to generate a three-dimensional object in a virtual environment.
Chamber TemperatureThe temperature at which an enclosed printer will reach during printing. Some printers monitor this to maintain a set temperature.
ChamferThe transitional edge, typically a 45ᵒ angle, between two right-angled faces.
CloggingAny form of disruption or complete disruption of the filament extrusion process.



Eco-ABSA specially formulated thermal plastic derived from PLA, to mimic the properties of traditional ABS plastic.
Elephant’s FootResult of the first layer being squished into the bed, and/or the first layer being larger in width from settings, and/or the first layer insufficiently cooling. This causes the first layer of an object to be bigger than the following layers, resulting in the shape of an elephant’s foot.
ExtruderThe components and/or assembly that performs the process of extrusion.
ExtrusionThe act of pushing molten material through a die or nozzle.


FilamentA roll or coil of material to be melted during the extrusion process.
FilletThe rounding of an interior or exterior edge of two right-angled faces.
FirmwareA software loaded onto a machine to control its functions and operations of the machine.


G-CodeCommon name for the most widely used numerical control programming language. It is used to control automated machine tools; like CNC’s, water jet tables, plasma tables, and 3D printers.


Heat CreepIrregular heating throughout the extruder components, preventing filament from
extruding and melting properly. Often causing clogs.
HollowAn object that does not contain any infill. This will produce a fast print, but may result in poor print quality and will be very low strength.


InfillThe amount of material that is used inside a model to provide strength, often referred to in percentages. 100% infill is a solid model, 0% infill is a hollow model.




Layer AdhesionThe adhesive quality between layers. Poor layer adhesion will result in separated layers. Good layer adhesion will provide a strong bond between each layer.
Layer HeightSometimes called build resolution, it is the height of the filament for each layer. This is typically measured in millimeters or microns. (.1mm = 100 Microns)
LevelingThe process of making the build surface (bed) as parallel with the horizontal movement of the nozzle as possible.


Material ProfileDefines the settings for a specific material; such as retraction speed, retraction distance, print speed, print temperature, and bed temperature.
Melting PointThe temperature at which a solid turns into a liquid.
MicronA measurement commonly used in 3D printing. A micron is 1000 th of a millimeter; 1mm = 1000microns, .05mm = 50 microns.


NozzleThe component where the molten filament is extruded from.
Nozzle DiameterThe diameter of the material that is extruded from the nozzle. Shells and wall thickness are dependent on this diameter.
Nozzle TempThe target temperature the nozzle requires to reach to melt the material for extrusion.
NylonA popular polymide material, best known for its toughness, flexibility, high impact resistance and good abrasion resistance. While being a tough material, it does have its challenges which include: prone to warping, not suitable for moist or humid environments, and requires special storage considerations. Nylon is hygroscopic and will absorb moisture; printing with nylon that has absorbed moisture will lead to many print quality issues.


OBJ fileA common standard 3D image format that uses a simple text-based structure format. The simple format may also lead to very large file sizes if the model is large or complex.
OverhangsOverhangs occur when a new layer is partially supported by the layer below. Angled walls are considered overhangs and depending on the printer and technology, it may often require supports to print successfully. The industry standard overhang threshold is 45ᵒ.


PETGPETG is a glycol modified Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). The material has good surface finish, impact resistance, very minimal warping, but is prone to wear, poor bridging, and can produce thin hairs or stringiness.
PLA (Polylactic Acid)The most popular material for 3D printing due to the ease of use. It is low cost, stiff, has good strength, dimensional accuracy, and good surface finish. The downside of PLA is it has low heat resistance, it can be brittle in some instances, and it is biodegradable in sunlight.
Print HeadThe assembly that moves around laying the filament down. The assembly generally includes the extruder assembly, fans, carriage, PCBA, and sensors.
Print TemperatureAlso referred to as Nozzle Temperature. This is the target temperature for the nozzle to hit in order to print the selected material.
Post ProcessingThe act of finishing or improving the appearance of a 3D object after the printing process. This includes support removal, curing, heat-treating, sanding, tumbling, polishing, painting, gluing or fusion, etc. Nearly all 3D objects require some degree of post processing.
Print ProfileStoring user specified settings to be quickly accessed for later use. Common settings include nozzle temperature, bed temperature, print speed, layer height and supports. The biggest use case is having a profile for each kind of material.
Print SpeedThe speed at which the print head moves during the printing process. This speed is typically measured in millimeters per second (mm/s). Filaments require different print speeds.
Print VolumeThe largest possible dimensions of printable space. This will vary by printer.



RaftA thick grid of material with a roof-like layer on top. The model is then printed on top of this roof-like layer. This aids in bed adhesion and cooling properties to help warping, but will leave a worse surface finish on the bottom of the model and requires more material to be used.
Retraction DistanceDefines the length of filament to be retracted by the extruder motor (stepper). The larger the value, the further from the nozzle the filament is retracted.
Retraction SpeedDefines the speed of the filament being pulled away from the nozzle.


ShellsAlso referred to as perimeters, it is the amount of outer rings applied to a model for rigidity.
SlicerKnown as slicing software, it is the software that takes a CAD type file, and slices it into layers, applies print profiles, and saves it as a G code file for the printer to read.
Stepper MotorA DC motor that moves in steps. The motor has multiple coils organized in groups called “phases”. Energizing each phase in a specific sequence controlled by a computer, will produce rotation and very precise movements and speed control.
STL FileA common standard 3D image format that uses geometric shapes to define a 3D image. There are two formats of STL’s, binary and ASCII. Binary are the most common, as they are more compact. ASCII files are easier to read and debug.
SupportSupport is extra material that is printed to give a layer a surface to rest on. Supports are typically required for overhangs and bridges and can be removed during post processing.
Support DensityThis value controls the amount of support used for overhangs; generally represented in percentages. A higher value will provide a better overhang or bridge, but will be harder to remove during post processing.
Surface FinishThe quality or roughness of the surface of the printed part.


Travel SpeedThe moving speed of the print head during non-printing, meaning no material is extruded during this movement.




Wall ThicknessThe minimum wall thickness; the thinnest dimension a wall can be printed. This can vary printer by printer; a good rule of thumb is ensuring that walls are not thinner than the diameter of your nozzle diameter (.4mm nozzle = .4mm thinnest wall)
WarpingDue to the high heat used in the 3D printing process and the variances in materials, materials cool down at different rates in different areas, resulting in warping. Warping can be reduced with things such as a heated bed, bed glue, build sheets, rafts, brims and selecting the correct material.
WatertightnessAn industry term used to describe a complete model. Having your model surface closed/complete will be watertight.


X-AxisThe side-to-side (left and right) movement of the print head.


Y-AxisThe front and back movement of the print head.


Z-AxisThe up and down movement of the print bed.
Z-Axis OffsetAlso referred to as Z-Gap, it is the working gap between the tip of your nozzle and the build surface. Since the filament needs somewhere to go when being extruded, this gap provides area for the nozzle to extrude onto the build plate. The higher the offset, the more distance between the nozzle tip and the build surface. This is adjustable and is critical for proper bed adhesion.
Z DistanceThe vertical distance between two objects of whatever subject it applies to (supports and rafts).