Terminology

Bed – Also referred to as the “build platform,” this is the surface on which the base layer of any object is going to be printed. Beds can be heated or unheated, and many users will put something on top of the bed to increase adhesion of objects being printed, like Kapton, blue painter’s tape, or glass. The bed may also be motorized in one or more dimension so that it moves while printing. The height of a bed needs to be adjustable so as to ensure a level build surface.

The bed of a Makerbot Replicator 2.

The bed of a Makerbot Replicator 2.

Extruder – The extruder head is the part of the printer that heats and lays down the plastic filament onto the build platform. It usually contains a motor to pull the filament through it, elements to heat the filament, a nozzle to lay down the filament, and various sensory equipment. The extruders on most printers are motorized in the x and y directions so that they move around the build platform while printing. Note that resin printers do not have extruder heads.

The Micron Extruder.

The Micron Extruder.

Filament – This is the plastic that most 3D printers use to make objects with. The two most common types of plastic used are PLA (polylactic acid) and ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene). See the Choosing Filament page for more details on these.

Filaments can come in many different colours.

Filaments can come in many different colours.

.stl & .obj – These are two of the most common files types of 3D models to be used for printing. Please note that these aren’t the only file types that are available, just the most common.

Slicer – A Slicer is a type of software that is designed to “slice up” a given 3D model into layers so that it can be printed by a printer. See the Choosing a Slicer page for more details.

Raft – A raft is something that a slicer will print between the build platform and object to be printed. There are many reasons to use a raft, the most common of these are for better support structures, and better adhesion to the bed. Rafts are often optional and many 3D models are designed to be printed without rafts or supports.

Support – This is excess material to be removed after the completion of a build. It is printed for the purpose of supporting higher levels of an object that aren’t being built on top of another layer (for example; an overhang).

This shark was printed with a raft (on the bottom) and supports (holding up the shark).

This shark was printed with a raft (on the bottom) and supports (holding up the shark).