3DES or Triple DES applies the DES algorithm three times. DES uses 16 rounds so we can conclude that 3 DES performs 48 (3 * 16 = 48)
In cryptography, Triple DES (3DES or TDES), officially the Triple Data Encryption Algorithm (TDEA or Triple DEA), is a symmetric-key block cipher, which applies the DES cipher algorithm three times to each data block. The Data Encryption Standard's (DES) 56-bit key is no longer considered adequate in the face of modern cryptanalytic techniques and supercomputing power. However, an adapted version of DES, Triple DES (3DES), uses the same algorithm to produce a more secure encryption.