Printing terms

Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)

FDM is a type of 3D printing. This process creates objects using a polymer-based filament (or thermoplastic). The material is fed through a hot extruder and a print head deposits the material layer by layer. FDM is a popular choice amongst the 3D printing community including here at 3DPC. We create a whole range of products using this method.

Stereolithography (SLA)

In comparison to FDM, this method uses lights, mirrors and liquid resin to produce objects. Each layer is built up using an ultraviolet laser directed by scanning mirrors. Following each print cycle, a layer of liquid resin is spread across the object and cured. SLA printing is perfect for producing accurate prototypes and intricate objects.

Digital Light Processing (DLP)

This printing method uses a light projecting image to cure a liquid photo polymer. Whereas, SLA printing uses a scanning laser to print each layer. DLP printing can produce objects with very smooth surfaces at a high print speed.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

SLS uses a laser to fuse particles of powdered polymer together. In contrast to the FDM method which uses a polymer based filament. This method can produce finished products and quality prototypes.

Filament terms

Polylactic acid (PLA)

PLA is the most popular 3D printing filament on the market. This filament has very high strength properties, it’s easy to use and affordable. However, it is fairly brittle and lacks flexibility compared to other types. PLA ticks the environmentally friendly box because it is made using sustainable properties.

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)

Follows closely behind PLA in the 3D printing world. Though some might say ABS is superior to compared to PLA. Ultimately, it’s a different product. Products printed using ABS will benefit from its durable properties and the ability to withstand higher temperatures.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET-G)

The most frequently used plastic in the universe. You may have noticed the letters PET on plastic items in and around the house such as water bottles. The letter ‘G’ stands for ‘glycol-modified’. This filament is clear and boasts very high durability.

Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU)

A grade of ‘thermoplastic elastomer’. This filament is soft, extremely flexible and durable. TPU can endure much harsher forces than the more common counterparts, PLA and ABS. For example, TPU is perfect for printing flexible phone cases.


Nylon is arguably the most versatile filament on the market. This is because it combines strength, durability and flexibility to produce silky smooth objects. We can also dye the filament, before or after the printing process. Nylon filament can be used to develop mechanical parts and fully functional prototypes.

Polycarbonate (PC)

The strongest filament we utilise. And surprisingly, it is durable and moderately flexible. PC filament is transparent, lightweight and has the ability to endure great force. Bullet proof glass is made using polycarbonate!

Acrylonitrile styrene acrylate (ASA)

Tremendously strong, holds a good resistance to chemicals and is water resistant. However, this product is not the most affordable on the market. ASA is great for automotive parts and rugged items for the outdoors.