What Is This Called Again?

By on January 23rd, 2009 in blog


A lively discussion erupted recently over the terminology used to refer to our favorite technology. As you’ve probably noticed, manufacturers use all manner of words to describe their particular form of digital manufacturing. We’ve heard terms like: “Rapid Manufacturing”, “Rapid Prototyping”, “3D Printing”, “Additive Fabrication” and many variations. Terry Wohlers believes that the term “3D Printing” will eventually win the terminology wars.

Our opinion? We agree completely. While there may be more technically accurate terms, such as the delightful “solid freeform fabrication”, the general public will more likely key on something that relates to their current understanding. Today everyone knows what “printing” means. It is a very small step to say “3D Printing”. We’ve tried this by mentioning such terms to neophytes, who tend to get “3D Printing” much more easily than other terms. 3DP it is.

Now then, how did “Bluetooth” ever slip in?

Via Terry Wohlers and Mass Customization

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!


  1. and the winner is…. “3d printing”

    I also believe (like my colleagues here at Fluid Forms, Frank Piller, as well…) 3d printing will be the umbrella term mostly used for additive production methods.

    rapid prototyping…maybe insiders, technicians and academics will go on using this term (though they don’t seem to be really happy with it) but the masses won’t use it…

  2. We’d agree with you on that one, Andy – RP clearly can be applied to, well, anything that quickly creates temporary items. But that’s the thing – “prototyping” means temporary, not-final objects, even though some are using the tech to produce “final” objects these days in short manufacturing runs.

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