Rapid prototype, 3D printing or additive manufacturing?

Browse our 3d printing glossary to understand a little bit better what 3d printing is 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: plastic polymer (some are known as Nylon). These are polymers generally with semi-crystalline structures, which present a good compromise between mechanical characteristics and chemical. Polyamides are generally materials that are sensitive tomoisture by the presence of polar groups. The mechanical and dimensional properties may therefore be affected by the storage and handling conditions. implementation. They are also subject to high temperature oxidation and limited fire resistance.


Polycarbonate: polymeric plastic. Polycarbonateis a plastic material with excellent mechanical properties and a thermal resistance that allows it to be used between -100°C and 120°C


High Density Polyethylene: polymeric plastic material. It is used, for example, to produce highly resistant plastic crates, canoes, detergent packaging, motor oil cans, milk and shampoo bottles, medicine bottles, soft drink caps, signal nets for pipes, buried cables…


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.


Polypropylene: polymeric plastic material. Its exceptional resistance to fatigue makes it the material of choice for parts that must be deformed (e.g., the joint between a lid and a box).

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.

We hope that this 3D Printing Glossary will be useful to you, although incomplete, so if you want to contribute to it, contact us.

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