Key Terms & Concepts


Open‐Source: The belief in free access to and redistribution of the design processes and details of a given project.

Peer to Peer Network “P2P”: A file-sharing system that allows users to download various types of media files from a network of computers connected by file-sharing software and an internet connection.

Workflow: A sequence of operations used for a particular process.


User Interface: The platform of interaction between a user and a program or machine.

Graphical User Interface: Commonly referred to as a GUI (pronounced “Gooey”).  A type of user interface where user commands are represented visually through graphics and icons as opposed to text.

Raster Image vs Vector Image
Raster Image: An image composed of a series of cells referred to as pixels.  JPEGs are a common type of raster file.  The resolution of raster images is measured in DPI (dots per inch).

Vector Image: An image composed of a series of mathematically defined coordinates.  This type of image does not have a resolution, and can be scaled infinitely without impacting the image’s sharpness.

CAD/CADD: Computer Aided Design; Computer Aided Design & Drafting.

FEA, FEM: Finite Element Analysis, Finite Element Method.  A method of dividing a complex calculation into a series of simplified steps.  Particularly relevant in Fab Labs as this type of analysis is often embedded into design software, and geared toward non‐engineers.

Parametric Design: Similar to but not necessarily FEA.  Basically, the use of mathematical inputs to generate a variable response in a given system.  For example, a modular system is composed of repetitive modules, whereas a parametric system may start of as a series of modules, but after feeding certain inputs into the system, each module will vary. 


CNC: “Computer Numerical Control”‐ Machinery operated through computer programmed commands.

CAM: Computer Aided Machinery, or Computer Aided Manufacturing.

Tool-path: A series of coordinates that directs the movement of a CNC tool.

Additional Resources