What's New In The 3D Printer World

9 minutes reading time (1832 words)

3D Printer Terms and Definitions

Ok Scott here again This time I'm going to start with another basics the parts and terms commonly used in 3D printers. I plan on adding images to most ares but until then I figured this will be a help for some of you. If you have more to add feel free to send me a message or email. I have not added printer layout types and not done delta terms yet but I will get there.

  1. Frame – Holds the full printer together. This can be metal, acrylic or even wood.
  2. X axis motion – movement on the printer from left to right.
  3. Y axis motion – movement on the printer from front to back.
  4. Z axis Motion – movement on the printer up and down.
  5. Extruder – Takes filament from the spool and pushes it to the hotend.
    1. Solid mount arm- This is the part of the extruder that does not move normally connected to the bowden or the hotend assemble depending on if it’s direct drive or bowden fed.
    2. Feed gear – This gear goes on the motor shaft to grab the filament and move it from one point to the next.
    3. Tension bearing – The tensioner bearing holds the filament against the drive gear.
    4. Swing arm - The arm that moves to allow for filament to pass between the feed gear and the tension bearing. Filament feeds through this.
    5. Tension spring – This spring goes between the swing arm and solid mount arm allowing for movement of the tension bearing.
  6. Bowden- This is the tube that passes filament from the extruder to the hotend assemble in a controlled manor.
  7. Stepper motors – Nema 17 are the most commonly used motors to move the printer in X, Y, Z, and the extruder.
  8. Motor mounts - There are several type and ways to mount the motors to the frame from a L Shaped bracket to a simple top or bottom bracket.
  9. X carriage – This is the part that holds the full hotend assemble and allows for movement in the X axis.
    1. Hotend assemble – This is a collection of parts when put together correctly take the solid filament and warm it up to the point it can be used in the printing process.
      1. Bowden coupling – Holds the bowden tube into the hotend assemble.
      2. Cold end – Allows for heat to dissipate so it does not melt or soften filament in the throat or bowden tube causing clogs.
      3. Throat / Heat break – This connects the heater block to the cold end while limiting the heat transfer further up into the hotend assemble. Throats come in two main types lined and all metal. Lined tend to work better for lower temp printing and all metal is required when printing higher temp filaments.
      4. Heat block – The heat block holds the hotend heater, thermistor, throat and nozzle together. The extra mass of the heater block hold in the heat allowing for smoother temperatures and better flow of filament through the nozzle.
      5. Nozzle – This is the part that controls the size and placement of the filament to the print surface. There are many different sizes of openings types of materials used.
      6. Heater cartage – This is the part that actually heats the heater block melting the filament they commonly come in 12 or 24 Volt and range from 30 watts to 50 watts on average depending on the one you get.
      7. Thermistor – This part is what tells the control board what the temperature is of the hotend or the bed depending on what it’s attached to.
    2. Parts cooling fan – the fan to has air directed to blow on the freshly printed part to cool it quicker. Not all printers have this and filaments like ABS will warp if the parts cooling fan is used during printing.
    3. Cold end fan – This fan blows air inwards pushing fresh cool air across cold end removing any extra heat that has creep in from the hotend and printing process.
    4. Auto bed level sensor (ABL) - There are several types of auto level sensors.  Some only see metal while others see all surfaces. These sensors are used in place of the Z axis end stop. The sensor is used to measure where the low and high point are on the bed allowing for the control board to make up for the irregular surface.
  10. Gantry – The gantry holds the X axis in place allowing for movement in the Y axis direction. This is only seen in the cube frame printers
  11. Control board - Some manufactures call this the mainboard as well. The control board is the brains of the printer. The job of the control board is to take the Gcode file and turn it into motion and the final print.
  12. Screen / Display – The screen allows you see what the printer is doing and set options on the printer. There are several common types of screens, touch screen, 5 button and 12864 are the more common types.
  13. Linear rods – The smooth precision ground rod that is commonly used on printers. Some manufactures call them smooth rods.
  14. Linear rails - Linear bearings are a flat version of the linear rods. These tend to be bolted to the frame and are high procession.
  15. linear bearings – The bearing that run on linear rods or linear rails. They come in two common options long or short. Most of the time if there is room it’s better to use the long bearings in metal housings in place of any short bearings of plastic housings.
  16. Lead screw – Lead screws are common on Z axis to allow for movement in Z axis but can be used in another axis as well. Some manufactured use threaded rod in place of lead screws, but these are not as precise, The term treaded rod is sometimes applied to lead screws so it does not always mean low quality. Ball screws are a high precision version of lead screw that are common in high end equipment because their higher cost.
  17. Brass nut – The Brass is the attachment point from the lead screw to the axis being used. These can also be found in other materials not just brass, but most common are brass.
  18. Motor coupling – Attach the motor shaft to the lead screw. They can be found in many different styles from spring style to a solid mount or ones that adjust for misalignment
  19. Drive gear – The gear that attaches to the motor shaft and allows the transfer of motion from the motor to the belt.
  20. Idler pully – Idler pulleys come in two main types smooth and tooth versions they are matched to the drive belt and drive gear. Idler pulleys allow for free movement of the belts. 
  21. Extrusion wheel – These wheels allow for movement of the axis along the frame itself
  22. Tensioner – Used to tension the belts on the axis it is place on.
  23. GT2 belt – The most common belt used on 3d printer, most of the time used to control X and Y axis movement.
  24. Flange bearing – flange bearing is the bearing used at the top of some lead screws to help with misalignment.
  25. Bed - The item you print on come in two main forms Heated and none heated.
    1. Heated – There are several options for heated bed 12v 24v and line voltage are the most common one. Heated bed are not required for all filaments but can help with any of them.
    2. not heated – This is common on printers only able to print filaments like PLA.
  26. Print surface – The area the filament prints onto.
    1. Glass bed – When printing on glass the first layer tends to be very smooth. Prints come off with easy once the glass cools.
    2. Flexible bed – One of the newer print surfaces allowing prints to be removed by pulling the flexible surface off the solid mount and flexing the print surface.
    3. Painter Tape – A lot of printer manufacture ship printers with this surface as it’s cheap and easy to use, but it leaves a rough first layer.
    4. PEI – A print surface that is attached to what ever print surface the users chooses.
  27. Spool mount – The item that holds the filament spool in place, they can be mounted to the frame or free standing.
  28. Filament - The medium used to print.
  29. Filament run out detection – This sensor detects when the filament runs out and the end passes through the sensor enabling the control board to pause the print so that the filament can be replaced, and the print resumed.
  30. Cable chain - Cable chain or as some call it drag chains are used to hold and organize the wires on the printer.
  31. Limit switch – Limit switches are needed for the control board to know where the axis is at. Some printers have both minimum (home side) and maximum limit switches but most only have the home side. 
    1. Mirco switch – A mechanical switch used to indicate when the axis is at that end of its travel.
    2. Optical switch – A switch that uses light to know when the axis hits the end of its travel.
  32. Mosfet – Mosfets are used to remove the load off the control board helping limit the heat and load off the control board. Increasing safety of the overall printer.
  33. Firmware – The software that the control board uses to control the printer. There are several versions, marlin, repieterhost and Chitu are just a few of them.
  34. Slicer – The software used to take the 3d model from a STL file to something the printer can understand.  Cura, Slic3d, Craftware and Simplify3D (S3D) are just a few of the options.
  35. STL – One of the file types used by the slicer to render the 3D model into a form the slicer can see and use.
  36. Gcode- The code created by the slicer that is used to tell the printers control board what to do and when. Example of Gcodes and what they mean can be found here.
  37. Heat Creep – This is a common term used to describe when the heat from the hotend makes it way up through the throat and into the cold end softening the filament before it reaches the hotend, this tends to cause clogging issues.
  38. Clog – When the filament no longer comes out of the nozzle.
  39. Acupuncture needle – Common tool used to unclog nozzles.
  40. Driver / Stepper Driver - A stepper driver is the driver circuit that controls how the stepper motor operates. Stepper drives work by sending current in pulses to the stepper motor.
  41. Power Supply (PSU) - The part that changes line voltage over to DC power for the printer to use.
  42. Z-wobble – The term used when A print has a wavy look to the outside in the Z axis. Normally spaced the width of the lead screw groves.




Sovol SV01 Rundown
Tuning and Speeding up Prints

Comments 5

Brandon Stadthagen on Tuesday, 12 March 2019 22:46

Awesome read!! Keep it up, this should help clarify the parts for better troubleshooting!

Awesome read!! Keep it up, this should help clarify the parts for better troubleshooting!
Scott Worthington on Tuesday, 12 March 2019 22:50

Thanks just trying to help feel free to help me add more... already added a few more terms love seeing things like this increase because it gives more info for the reader.

Thanks just trying to help feel free to help me add more... already added a few more terms love seeing things like this increase because it gives more info for the reader.
Guest - Mark on Wednesday, 13 March 2019 16:23

Add to smoother?

Add to smoother?
Scott Worthington on Wednesday, 13 March 2019 17:35

I can add smoothers just need to figure out the best way to describe them because they are a mixed feedback item some swear by them others say not worth it.

I can add smoothers just need to figure out the best way to describe them because they are a mixed feedback item some swear by them others say not worth it.
Craig Henderson on Wednesday, 13 March 2019 16:58


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