Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

At a Glance


Lead Time



Early stage prototyping
As fast as 1 day
0.2 - 0.25 mm

About the Process

Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is a 3D printing technology (also known as additive manufacturing) commonly used for modeling, prototyping, and production applications. Each layer is created by extruding material from a nozzle to produce 3D objects.

FDM processes require support material, either breakaway or soluble, so it’s important to keep this in mind when choosing this process as it can affect the final part.


FDM machines can be categorized into two main categories: professional and hobbyist grade. At Fictiv, all parts produced in PLA are made on hobbyist grade machines to keep costs low and leverage breakaway support. All other FDM materials, specifically ABS, are produced on professional grade machines with soluble support material for greater accuracy and strength.

Hobbyist-Grade Machines

- Resolution: 0.2mm (0.008”)
- Infill: 20%
- Support: breakaway

Prusa i3 MK2

Ultimaker 2

Type A Machines Series 1 Pro

Build Bed Size [x, y, z]

250 x 210 x 200 mm
9.84 x 8.3 x 8 in
342 x 357 x 388 mm
13.4 x 14.05 x 15.28 in
305 x 305 x 305 mm
12 x 12 x 12 in




Additional Machine Information

Prusa i3 MK2
Ultimaker 2
Type A Machines Series 1 Pro

Professional-Grade Machines

- Resolution: 0.25mm (0.01”)
- Infill: 10-15%
- Support: soluable

UPrintSE Plus

Fortus 400/450mc

Build Bed Size [x, y, z]

203 x 203 x 152 mm
8 x 8 x 6 in
355 x 254 x 254 mm
14 x 10 x 10 in






Great for simple early prototypes. Enables fast and cost effective 3D printing.


Low resolution material for early rapid prototyping. Great for strength and complex geometries.


Blends the best of ABS and PLA - Great strength and impact resistance, but still cost effective.

Design Recommendations

Max Part Size

Min Feature Size


Min Wall Thickness

Min Hole Diameter

Min Gaps for Mating Parts

405 x 355 x 406 mm

304 x 304 x 304 mm
1 mm
+/- 0.5 mm or +/- 1% per inch
1 mm
1 mm
0.1 mm minimum; 0.2 mm to ensure fit

Additional Design for Manufacturing Tips

- No internal cavities
- Limit curved surfaces, especially for PLA and PET-G as they require a flat surface to result in a successful print
- Orientation on small holes is very important (xy plane is much more cylindrical)
- Bridging: distances of up to 10 mm do not necessarily need support material, as long as the area being printed has support on both sides of the material being laid down.

Cost Saving Tips

1. Cut large models into multiple smaller parts, to fit on a smaller, less expensive machines.
2. Reduce the amount of support material required by overhangs and special orientations.
3. Choose PLA for simple geometry parts and where tolerance is less important.

Related Resources

How to Reduce Costs by Cutting Your 3D Models