Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

At a Glance

Lifecycle

Lead Time

Materials

Resolution

Early stage prototyping
24 hours
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. At Fictiv, all FDM prints produce parts at a 0.004” (0.1mm) layer height to balance accuracy and strength with speed.

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.

Machines

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. All other FDM materials, specifically ABS, are produced on professional grade machines with soluble support material for greater accuracy and strength.

Hobbyist-Grade Machines

- Layer height: 0.1mm (0.004”)
- Infill: 10%
- 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

Materials

Value

$699
$2,450
$3,995

Additional Machine Information

Prusa i3 MK2
Ultimaker 2
Type A Machines Series 1 Pro

Professional-Grade Machines

- Layer height: 0.1mm (0.004”)
- Infill: 10-15%
- Support: soluable

UPrintSE Plus

Fortus 400/450mc

Fortus 900

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
914 x 610 x 914 mm
36 x 24 x 36 in

Materials

Value

$25,000
$185,000
$400,000

Materials

PLA

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

ABS

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

Design Recommendations

Max Part Size

Min Feature Size

Tolerance

Min Wall Thickness

Min Hole Diameter

Min Gaps for Mating Parts

914 x 610 x 914 mm
0.889 mm
+/- 0.015” or +/- 0.2% per inch
1.2 mm
1 mm.
0.1 mm minimum; 0.2 mm to ensure fit

+ Design for Manufacturing Tips

- No internal cavities
- Limit curved surfaces
- 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
PLA 3D Printing Material
ABS 3D Printing Material