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Additive Manufacturing: Glossary of terms

The advent of additive manufacturing has generated an entire vocabulary. This includes terms that have been part of engineering for many years, such as conformal cooling and EDM, plus a number of new terms that have been coined to explain specific elements of the additive manufacturing process. We’ve summarised many of these terms and acronyms below.

Additive Manufacturing

Often referred to as AM. A process of creating a 3D component in layers. 

Conformal Cooling

Cooling channels that are built via AM to follow the external surface of the component. 


A metal joining process in which components are joined together by melting and flowing a filler material in to the joint. The filler material has a lower melting point than the parent material. 

Cross Section

An area exposed by a straight cut through an object. In AM it is used as a alterative term to refer to the thickness of a section. 

Coordinate Measuring Machine

Often referred to as CMM. A device used to precisely measure the physical geometry of the component. 

Direct Metal Laser Sintering

Often referred to as DMLS. A type of L-PBF in which a laser sinters metal powder to create geometries. 

Computer Numeric Control

Often referred to as CNC. A computer controlled machining process. 

Down Skin

Used to describe the rough surface left on the underside of any over hanging faces.

Electrical Discharge Machining

Often referred to as EDM. A form of machining using an electrode to erode away the material. 

Laser Powder Bed Fusion

Often referred to as L-PBF. A form of AM that centralises around using a powder bed and a high powdered laser to create components in layers. 


Weakness in a material that has been exposed to variations in stress levels. 


A process in where the material is put in to a relaxed state, usually through heat treatment. 

Hot Isostatic Pressing

Often referred to as HIP. A thermal process that involves high temperature and pressure to condense the voids in a component. Traditionally used to densify castings. 


A state in which the powder is heated and bonds together, without forming a solid mass. 


A process of removing material from the internal of a part, therefore creating a hollow section. 


A state in which a solid form is created through heating, without melting to the point of liquidation. 

Stress Raisers

A point in the geometry that forms where it is most likely to cause distortion within the part, usually sharp corners or sharp changes in wall thickness. 

Selective Laser Melting

Often referred to as SLM. A type of L-PBF in which a laser fully melts metal powder to create geometries. 

Un-melted (or sintered)

Loose powder retained in the geometry. 

Selective Laser Sintering

Often referred to as SLS. A type of AM in which a laser sinters plastic powder to create geometries. 


A joining process where the edges of the components are heated to a point of melting and fuse together. 

Additive Manufacturing Design Guide

AM design guide cover

Download our free additive manufacturing design guide – just fill in our simple form and receive your copy. 

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