Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is the most widely used 3D printing process because of its ease of use and ability to run real engineered plastics. FDM, also referred to as Fused Filament Fabrication or FFF, works be extruding materials layer by layer.
FDM is a popular method for additive manufacturing but has its own specific benefits. FDM is more widely known and affordable than HP MJF or Carbon DLS due to the availability and low cost of entry with desktop 3D printers.
Our industrial FDM machines offer more repeatability for industrial, aerospace and medical prototyping and production. Today, there are hundreds of FDM and FFF 3D printers available in all different sizes, for different materials and applications.
Like all our additive machines, FDM runs 24/7 but is easier to operate and post-process which allows for low-cost parts and quick turnarounds in as little as 1-2 days.
The FDM printer builds a 3D model of a component from a 3D CAD file using a thermoplastic filament. The filament is loaded into the machine then the machine reads the layer slice then heats the filament and support then deposits the materials using a 3-axis system layer by layer until the part is complete.
FDM Best Uses
We offer both standard FDM printing materials and specialized materials. Our specialized materials are used in Aerospace and Defense, Industrial and Medical industries for prototyping and production needs for tough, high heat, biocompatible, UL94V0 parts. While our standard materials (ABS and PC) are more commonly used in industrial and consumer projects. There are now hundreds of different materials available, here are the materials that we use most often:
There are different FDM machines available depending on what your project requires. Each has its own benefits depending on what type of material and parts are required for your job.
Industrial FDM printers have larger build platforms from 16” x 14” x 16” (400mm x 350mm x 400mm) to 24” x 36” x 24” (900mm x 600mm x 900mm). There are even machines large enough to 3D print cars and homes. These machines can build parts at different layers depending on the material chosen and requirements for parts (ex. finish, cost, quality, etc.).
These are great for building large parts or loading up lots of smaller parts where you want consistent repeatable parts with nice surface finish and tolerances. Very large parts can easily be sectioned to build in pieces then assembled in post-processing.
Desktop 3D printers typically have smaller build platforms, roughly 11” x 7” x 6” (280mm x 175mm x 150mm) and are perfect machines for designers, engineers, DIYers and makers. There are hundreds of desktop printers available and most are used in DIY projects, schools, labs and engineering offices.
Each 3D printing technology is a little different, here are standard guidelines to consider when choosing FDM as your 3D printing process:
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