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Rapid Ready Materials Glossary


Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) Plastic

A commonly used thermoplastic which is made by polymerizing styrene and acrylonitrile in the presence of polybutadiene.


Processed from bauxite to produce a soft, durable, light metal with a silver or grey appearance. Found in both powdered and melted form when used in additive manufacturing.

Metal Laminate

This is a composite material made from several thin bonded layers of metal. The ingredients added to make a metal laminate usually focus on creating a material that behaves like metal, but is resistant to a specified need (such as stress, heat, etc.).

Metal Powders (Powder Metallurgy)

Includes tool steel, nickel-based superalloys, and dissimilar metals among others. Metal may have been milled, atomized or precipitated to create a powder. A number of powders are mechanically alloyed—or blended—to produce a stronger end product.


When used in additive manufacturing, this material is often hardened (i.e. cured) by exposure to light, frequently ultraviolet light.

Polylactic Acid (PLA)

A thermoplastic aliphatic polyester created from “green” sources, such as corn starch or sugarcane.

Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT)

A thermoplastic and a type of polyester. PBT is durable and can be treated to create a noncombustible material.


An easily worked thermoplastic that has exhibited resistance to temperature and impact.

Polyphenylsulfone (PPSF or PPSU)

An easily molded plastic that is heat and chemical resistant.

Polypropylene (PP), Polypropene

A thermoplastic that has proven to be resistant to a number of chemical solvents, bases and acids.


A polymer that has similar characteristics of both plastic and rubber.


The resins used in additive manufacturing are generally synthetic resins, which have similar properties as natural resins, but completely different chemical compositions. In either case, resin can be heated to produce a thick liquid that will harden and be cured.


This term covers a broad range of materials that share similar traits. In general, a thermoplastic is a polymer that melts when heated and takes on a glossy appearance when cold.

Wax, Wax Compound, Wax-like Plastic

Some machines use actual wax, which is manufactured in the usual manner. Other machines use a wax compound or wax-like plastic, which is generally a mix including some sort of polymer, polycarbonate, and/or acrylonitrile butadiene.