(3D Printing Ultimate List of Acronyms) ™


Let’s face it - there are days when Additive seems like nothing but acronyms.
— #3dprintinglady #3dpl

Overwhelmed by the amount of three- and four-letter acronyms in the field of Additive Manufacturing?

Trust me - you are not the only one.

Every 3D Printing Glossary reaches the dead end the moment it tries to embrace terminology of Industrial 3D Printing.

3DPULA is different - it explains the recent as well as established terminology, and offers something for everyone - from passionates who just begin to discover the world of Additive Manufacturing, all the way to seasoned professionals who have seen it all.

Interested in 3D Manufacturing besides Additive?

Venture into material science, traditional manufacturing, and tooling by visiting 3D MULA >>>

Interested in finding out more about file formats used for CAM and Additive?

Check 3D FULA for file formats related to AM >>>


The Golden Circle, Iceland © HD Grzywnowicz, 2017

Editor’s note:

* Acronyms marked with an asterisk indicate newly developed and/or experimental processes, or methods that are still part of academic research.



3DCP* - 3D Concrete Printing

a revolutionary large-format technology for 3D printing concrete prefabricates, currently being developed by Loughborough University. A long-term project developed in collaboration with industry leaders (ABB, Buro Happold, Foster + Partners, The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), Skanska and Tarmac, to name a few).

3DMP® - 3D Metal Print

a variation of Direct Energy Deposition↓ metal additive method developed and trademarked by German company Gefertec, in which an electric arc is used to melt and weld the metal wire, depositing it in layers to create the near-net-shape part. The resulting part usually requires to undergo the additional milling and/or further finishing steps. Similar DED method using wire feedstock instead of powder, but with different source of heat to melt the wire, is ↓EBAM.

Example machine: Gefertec arc603.

3DP - 3D Printing

original name of the ↓CJP process.

3DS - 3D Systems

3SP® - SCAN, SPIN AND Selectively Photocure

enhanced ↓SLA process using multi cavity diode laser and rotating mirror assembly instead of galvo mirrors to quickly trace the cross sections of the part, first in Y and then in X direction. Use of the diode rather than solid state laser makes the overall assembly cheaper, and the rotating mirror eliminates any potential focus issues occurring in large format stereolitography machines. Developed by EnvisionTEC in 2013.

Example machine: EnvisionTEC Vector Hi-Res.


ABS - Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

ADAM® - Atomic Difusion Additive Manufacturing

metal additive process by Markforged using extruded filament-style rods containing plastic binder and approximately 60% metal powders. Metal rods are melted with an extruder in order to deposit layers without the need for protective inert gas atmosphere. The parts require to undergo de-binding and sintering in order to remove the binder. 

Example machine: MarkForged Metal X.


BJ - Binder Jetting

a descriptive term for a wide group of processes using the binding agent to adhere the particles of the chosen medium. The resulting parts out of the print bed are in the so-called ‘green state’ and need to be further infiltrated, infused with more medium, and/or undergo thermal and chemical post processing.

The main advantages of Binder Jetting systems are the high speeds and lower operating temperatures. More relaxed a printing process, it allows for more flexibility in terms of particle sizes and type for medium: ceramics, sand, sandstone, polymers, and metal alloys. Layer height is dependant on particle size. In case of metals, there is no need for generating protective inert gas environment.

Example machines: Digital Metal DM P2500, VoxelJet VX1000.

BMD® - Bound Metal Deposition

metal additive process by Desktop Metal similar to ↑ADAM where filament-style rods containing wax, binder and metal particles are extruded and layered without the need for protective atmosphere. An important innovation here is a ceramic layer ('Ceramic Release Layer') which is being deposited between the part and the support structures, allowing for easier post-processing of the part before de-binding and sintering. 

Example machine: Desktop Metal Studio System.


CAD - Computer Aided Design

CAE - Computer Aided Engineering

CAL - Computed Axial Litography

new additive method developed by the research team at UC Berkeley, using the principles of reversed computer tomography (CT) to form a solid object without the need for cross sections. Object layout is projected onto the cylindrical vat filled with light-curable resin stirred in motion. Different wavelengths cure the material in the desired places, bypassing the need for cross-sections and consecutive layering. The main advantages of this method are speed and layer-less appearance, together with potential to append other technologies. The possible downsides include potential dimensional inaccuracies due to optical distortions. Read more

CAM - Computer Aided Manufacturing

CDLM® - Continuous digital light manufacturing

patent-protected additive manufacturing process by EnvisionTEC based on the DLP approach enhanced by moving ERM (Enhanced Resolution Module) that allows for double exposure of pixels to light while photo-curing the resin.

Example machine: EnvisionTEC VIDA HD cDLM.

CJP - Colour Jet Printing

additive process developed by ZCorp (later acquired by 3D Systems), sometimes also referred to as Colour Jetting, Binder Jetting or 3DP.

Example machine: 3D Systems' Projet660Pro.

CLIP® - Continuous Liquid Interface Production

first step of two-step additive process by Carbon3D in which thermoset resins are cured with projector light via oxygen-permeable window, allowing continuos resin flow and minimising the appearance of layers. 

Example machine: Carbon3D M1.


DAM - Distributed Additive Manufacturing

DED - Directed Energy Deposition

one of 7 categories by which ISO/ATSM classifies the types of Additive Manufacturing processes (correct as of 2018). DED is a process where focused thermal energy (generated by laser, electron beam or plasma arc) is used to fuse materials by melting them as they are being deposited; example processes: ↓DMLS, ↓SLM, ↓EBM

DfAM - Design For Additive Manufacturing

set of design guidelines for additive manufacturing process different from the rules guiding other manufacturing methods. Main guidelines advocate the model to be solid, manifold and watertight and walls to have a minimal thickness - the particulars vary according to the 3D printing process.

As of 2018, DfAM might also refer to: Diversity in Additive Manufacturing, an initiative lead by Women in 3D Printing aimed at monitoring diversity and gender distribution within the Additive Manufacturing/ 3D Printing Industry sector.

DLP - Digital Light Processing

resin curing additive method using projector light instead of laser (↓SLA) to create parts. Main advantages of using projector light versus laser is the increased surface area cured by a single exposure, which results in faster 3D printing process; main downside: weaker acrylic rather than epoxy-based resins. 

Example machine: B9 Creations' B9 Creator.

DLS® - Digital Light Synthesis

two step additive manufacturing process developed by Carbon3D, consisting of CLIP as a first stage of the process, and thermal curing which finalises the mechanical properties of the material as second.

Example Machine: Carbon3D M3.

DMLM - Direct Metal Laser Melting

additive laser powder bed process by German company Concept Laser, as of 2017 part of GE Additive.

Example Machine: Concept Laser MLab Cusing R.

DMLS - Direct Metal Laser Sintering

powder bed process using an infrared laser (usually either CO2 or fibre laser) to selectively melt the cross sections of the printed parts on bed filled with metal powder. Due to high energy generated to meet different melting points of alloys, the parts require support structures designed within the powder bed, to act as heatsinks.

Example machine: EOS Cooksongold M080 Precious.

DMP - Direct Metal Printing

powder-bed laser metal 3D printing process by 3D Systems, in which layers of metal are sintered in protective inert gas atmosphere. Green parts require significant levels of chemical and mechanical post-processing. 

Example machine: 3D Systems' DMP Flex 100.


EBAM® - Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing

a ↑DED method developed by US company Sciaky, Inc. What sets this method apart from other DED methods is the use of electron beam in place of laser or welding arc to melt the feedstock metal wire.

EBM® - Electron Beam Melting

powder-bed metal additive manufacturing method using concentrated electron beam in order to melt and fuse the powder particles. Slower than comparable laser systems. EBM parts are denser and less porous than parts from ↑DLMS and Binder Jetting, and don't require any ↓HIP treatments. Developed in 1997 by Swedish company Arcam (as of 2017, part of GE Additive). 

Example machine: Arcam EBM Q10 Plus.

EOS - Electro Optical Systems

German manufacturer of reliable industrial polyamide (↓SLS) and metal (↑DLMS) sintering systems designed for large volume production. Company provides an entire ecosystem of hardware, software and post-processing units. 

Example machine: EOS Formiga P110.


FDM - Fused Deposition Modelling 

material deposition process in which a pre-prepared thermoplastic in form of a filament undergoes the hot-end extrusion and subsequent deposition on either composite, metal, aluminum or borosilicate glass build plate. Two most popular axial systems are: Cartesian and Delta. 

Example machine: Ultimaker S5.

FFF - Fused Filament Fabrication 

see: ↑FDM; thermoplastic hot-end extrusion process originally registered under FFF name by 3D Systems in the early 1990's. Both terms can now be used interchangeably, however seems that some companies favour FFF over FDM in their press materials so as not to infringe the copyright (an ongoing investigation).

 FGF* - Fused Granular Fabrication

large scale extrusion process from pellets by Belgian company Colossus. FGF machines are self contained, fitted in the old shipping containers, and are fit to process a wide range of both new and post-consumer plastics in form of pellets.

Current largest FGF machine has a build volume of 2.67m x 1m x 1.5m, and can process up to 15kg of material per hour.




HIP - Hot Isostatic Pressing

post-processing infiltration process for porous metal AM parts from powder systems, especially Binder Jetting. The green part is infiltrated with another material to improve mechanical properties.

Example use: Peweter-filled Stainless Steel.

HSS® - High Speed Sintering

inkjet-based nylon sintering process developed in 2003 by Prof. Neil Hopkinson and Loughborough University. HSS is faster compared to the traditional nylon ↓SLS process thanks to the application of infrared (IR) absorbing fluid deposited between layers of polyamide via Xaar printheads. The areas are then simultaneously exposed to the large-surface infrared lamp that melts and sinters loose polymeric powder. The amounts of IR fluid can be regulated throughout the build, enabling for printing items in greyscale, with future potential to incorporate full colour printhead jetting. 

Example machine: Voxeljet VX200 HSS.

(HS)DM - (High Speed) Digital Moulding

air-permeable membrane-enhanced ↑DLP technology, similar to ↑CLIP, powering 3D Systems’ Figure 4 modular printing and finishing system, as well as NextDent 5100 3D printer. Digital Moulding allows for high-speed continuous production of functional parts at record speeds.

Example machine: 3D Systems Figure 4 Standalone.

HTLS - High Temperature Laser Sinering



IMP - Indirect Metal Printing

term used to group the metal printing processes that create so-called ‘green state parts’ rather than functional metal parts. Green parts require a series of post-printing treatments in order to obtain optimal strength and satisfactory mechanical properties, usually in a form of debinding, HIP and sintering.

Example machine: Digital Metal’s DM P2500

Example material: Stainless Steel 316L.






LCM® - Litography-Based Ceramic Manufacturing

an open LED-based process for sinterable ceramic powders, with special focus for high-performance ceramics, developed and patented by Austrian company Lithoz. Current printable ceramic materials include yttria stabilised zirconia, highly biocompatible and bioinert alumina, bioresorbable TCP (tricalcium phosphate), and, as of recent, simulated lunar regolith.

Example machine: Lithoz CeraFab 7500.

Example material: LithaBone TCP 300.

LENS® - Laser Engineering Net Shape

a ↑DED metal printing process by US-based material deposition, electronics and hybrid CNC/Additive systems’ manufacturer Optomec.

Example machine: Optomec LENS 500 Hybrid Controlled Atmosphere System

LMD - Laser Metal Deposition

DED method of printing metals by melting the material as it is being deposited. There are two variants of this model: powder↓LMDp and wire ↓LMDw

LMD-p - Laser Metal Deposition - powder

also known as the “blown powder“ method; metal additive method in which the powder feedstock is being pumped through the nozzle and melted with laser as the new layer is deposited.

LMD-w - laser metal Deposition - wire

metal 3D printing method in which a wire feedstock is melted by laser in order to deposit metal in layers. Wire ↑LMD has certain advantaged over the powder bed methods [↓SLM, ↑DLMS (↓SLS), ↑EBM], namely cost and accessibility of the base material compared to the engineered AM metal powders.

LMF - Laser Metal Fusion

alternative term for powder-bed, laser melting process (identical to ↓SLM, ↑DMLS, or metal ↓SLS). LMF is often found in relation to German hardware manufacturer Trumpf - it is possible that the term was originally trademarked by the company (an ongoing investigation).

LOM - LAminated Object Manufacturing

also known as Sheet Lamination, a process in which sheets of materials are bonded to form an object. The cross sections of the object can be either pre-cut prior to the bonding, or cut to shape after deposition. The Original patent for LOM dates back to 1988 and the no-longer existent Helisys Corporation. 

Example machine: MCOR Iris.

LS - Laser Sintering

another term used interchangeably with  ↓SLS, often exclusively found in Stratasys publishing materials, perhaps for copyright reasons (an ongoing investigation). 


MJF - Multi Jet Fusion

high-speed Nylon PA11/PA12 sintering process developed by HP and launched in 2016. As of 2018, the machines can only process single polymeric material, with plans to launch a full-colour version in the last quarter of 2019. 

Example machine: HP Multi Jet Fusion 4210.

MJM - Multi Jet Modelling

see ↓MJP; sometimes also used in reference to the machines using the technology (Multi Jet Modeler).

MJP - Multi Jet Printing

multi-material system developed by 3D Systems in which parts are created by jetting and UV curing of the target material along with removable wax support. The use of UV curing and removable support allows for higher precision and more complex geometries. Sometimes also referred to as ↑MJM

Example machine: 3D Systems' 3500HD Max.

Example material: VisiJet M3 Procast.


NPJ® - Nano Particle Jetting

relatively new Metal and Ceramic additive process by Israeli company XJet, able to create parts by jetting material nanoparticles encapsulated in liquid droplets that evaporate in elevated temperature of the build chamber (+-300° Celsius), leaving behind the desired part fused together on a particle level.

Example machine: XJet Carmel 1400 AM System.




PBF - Powder Bed Fusion

a process in which thermal energy selectively fuses regions of a powder bed; one of 7 categories by which ISO/ATSM classifies the types of Additive Manufacturing processes (correct as of 2018).

PJ - PolyJet

multi-material process developed by Stratasys in which the parts are being jetted and UV cured simultaneously with a support material.  Depending on the materials, certain properties like A offshore hardness can be altered prior to printing which allows for greater material flexibility. Soluble support material allows for creating more complex geometries, while some of the machines also support full colour textures. 

Example machine: Stratasys J750.

Example material: Agilus 30 Clear.

PLA - Polylactic Acid


cleaning station used for gross removal of the unprocessed material from the completed part. It can be either built-in, external but integrated, or independent stand-alone unit. PPU plays an important role in most powder recovery systems, with some units included in the price of the system and some coming as optional extras. It is especially important issue to discuss prior to investing into any Metal AM systems.

PSA - Pre-stretched Assembly

a specially engineered consumable tray made with rigid metal frame and mechanically stretched separation film, to prevent any malformations and layer drops caused by resin weighing down the vat. Used for EnvisionTEC’s Desktop and Perfactory systems.




*RLP - Rapid Liquid Printing

RSP - Rapid Solidification Process

part of the powder atomisation process in metallurgy, in which droplets of molten metal are cooled rapidly over the heatsink. Widely used in order to create pulverised metal powders of various alloys for Additive Manufacturing (powder-bed or DED), or Pressed Metal applications.

Example process: Nanoval Process.

Example machine: The Blue Power Atomiser AU1000.


SHS - Selective Heat Sintering

SLA - StereoLitography (AParatus)

process in which liquid photo-sensitive resin is solidified in cross-sectional layers in the process of photo-polymerisation by ultraviolet light generated by laser; considered to be the original 3D printing method by 'the father of 3D Printing' Charles 'Chuck' Hull, with the US patent dating back to 1984.

Example machine: 3DSystems' SLA iPro 8000.

Example material: Accura ClearView.

SLM - Selective Laser Melting

SLS -  Selective Laser Sintering

an industrial additive process in which layers of pulverised polymers are sintered together with a tracing laser (usually an infrared fibre) in protective inert gas atmosphere.

Example machine: EOS Formiga P110.

Example material: PA2200 (EOS).

Sp3D* - Supersonic 3D Deposition

low-cost, low-resolution metal deposition technology patented by Australian company SPEE3D, in which metal powders are kinetically fused by compressed air accelerated up to three times the speed of sound. The process results in high-density metal parts at production costs and times comparable to traditional metal processing methods. SP3D is also believed to be able to process pure copper.

Example machine: LIGHTSPEE3D by SPEE3D Pty Ltd.

STEP® - Selective Toner Electrophotographic Process

new 3D printing process announced in first quarter of 2018 by Evolve Additive, a spinoff company of Stratasys. Based on the principles of electrophotographic printing (EP, laser printing) widely used in office 2D printers, the technology promises 50 times faster manufacturing times compared to other polymer AM processes, and capabilities to process real pulverised engineering plastics rather than optimised composites, further reducing AM costs to the injection moulding levels. As of September 2018, the first machine is officially in its Alpha stage.

STS - StrataSys



a hybrid method developed by researchers from Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) According to one of the researchers interviewed, the acronym stands for absolutely nothing, and deliberately so.

* TLM - Tiled Laser Melting

patent-pending powder bed metal fiber laser sintering process by Portugese company Adira. The innovation of the process lies in uniform laser sintering in constrained, slightly overlapping areas, thus enabling significantly larger part output without any visible joinery or potential loss of strength on the weld.

Example machine: Adira AddCreator (AC).




Voxel - Vo(lumetric) (Pi)xel










Company behind original powder-based printhead jetting system where layers of the material are joined by binders jetted through printheads. The process had been later updated to print in full colour by incorporating magenta, cyan, yellow and black inks into the process. ZCorporation (ZCorp for short) had been acquired by 3D Systems in 2012, and the name is still used to describe both the process or the actual machine using engineered composite ('core') and binder. Until this day, plaster (sandstone) remains one of the most economical full colour entry-level prosumer systems on the market. 3D Systems stopped investing in R&D of this technology in 2012, with Projet 660Pro and 860Pro remaining the last released models.

Example machine: ZCorp 510.

Example material: VisiJet PXL Core.



If you don't enter the tiger's cave, you won't catch the cub. 

(Nothing ventured, nothing gained.)

Japanese proverb



Anything worth adding?


3D Printing, Explained.

The Most Comprehensive List of Additive Manufacturing Terms. 3D Printing vocabulary. Additive Glossary.
— Uncle Google