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Rapid prototype, 3D printing or additive manufacturing?

Here are some definitions to understand a little better what is 3D printing to create your prototypes


Computer Aided Design = includes all software and geometric modeling techniques for designing, virtually testing and making manufactured products and the tools to manufacture them.


Grain measurement unit for a grained surface of an object.

Layer thickness

The layer thickness measures the height of each addition of material in additive manufacturing processes or 3D printing based on the stack of layers.

Fab lab

FABrication LABoratory = community digital manufacturing workshop open to all (DIYers, designers, artists, students, hackers, …). It is equipped with machines controlled by computer and must respect a charter put in place by MIT.

Additive manufacturing

Manufacturing process by adding material, most of the time computer-assisted.


Fused deposition modeling : mechanical deposition of plastic material in successive layers. The machine deposits a melted plastic wire through a nozzle.

3D files

Electronic file representing a three-dimensional object. It is designed by 3D modeling to allow the printing of the desired object with a 3D printer. The creation of 3D files is done by CAD.


Glass filled: material loaded with glass fibers.


Mineral Fiber Filled : material loaded with mineral fibers.

3D printing

Additive manufacturing process. Here are some technologies that coexist: FDM, SLA and Selective laser sintering…

3D Printer

Machine intended for the production of 3-dimensional parts, by depositing successive layers of molten material.


Partial or complete representation of an object (existing or planned) in order to test and validate certain aspects. The model can be produced on a given scale, most often reduced or enlarged to facilitate viewing.

3D models

Object obtained by 3D modeling.

3D modeling

Stage in three-dimensional computer graphics which consists of creating, in 3D modeling software, a three-dimensional object, by adding, subtracting and modifying its constituents.


Polyamide: polymer plastic.


Poly-Carbonate: polymer plastic.


High Density Poly-Ethylene: polymer plastic.


Material that reacts on contact with light radiation.


A chemical reaction or process by which small molecules react with each other to form molecules of higher molecular weights.


Poly-Propylene: polymer plastic.

Rapid prototyping

Computer-controlled manufacturing method, which brings together a set of tools, which, arranged together, allow to achieve intermediate representation projects of product design: models, prototypes and pre-series.


An original model that has all the technical qualities and all the operating characteristics of a new product, but it is also sometimes an incomplete example of what a product could be.


Reaction Injection Molding = By creating an epoxy or silicone resin mold (previously from a master model made in Stereolithography) a prototype can then take shape.


StereoLithography Apparatus : polymerization of a photosensitive epoxy resin by ultraviolet laser, in layers of 0.10 to 0.15 mm.


Selective laser sintering : polyamide particles are agglomerated by a CO2 laser.