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Fabricate, Processes & Materials

FDM 3D Printing Technology

Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is an additive manufacturing technology commonly used for modeling, prototyping, and production applications. In using FDM technology, the machine will extrude thermoplastics from a heated nozzle to produce 3D objects.

How Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Works

As with other 3D printing technologies, FDM works "additively”, laying down material in layers; a plastic filament or metal wire is unwound from a coil and supplies material to produce a part.

FDM Cost

FDM is the most easily accessible 3D printing technology and subsequently the most common, with some 3D printers costing as little as a few hundred USD.

Nonetheless, higher-end machines capable of printing very large parts or using special materials can cost tens of thousands of USD and require expensive feedstocks in order to operate optimally.

FDM Technology Origins

The term fused deposition modeling’ and its abbreviation to FDM are trademarked by Stratasys Inc. The equivalent term, fused filament fabrication (FFF), was coined by the members of the RepRap project to produce a phrase that would be legally unconstrained in its use.

Materials used with FDM

There are many different types of materials out there, but they most common ones used with FDM technology include:

  • PLA - great for early stage prototyping and allows for cheap, fast parts.
  • ABS - also good for early stage prototyping, and can achieve a smoother finish and more accurate geometries compared to PLA.

Benefits in using FDM

  1. Cost: FDM is the most affordable 3D printing technology available.
  2. Durability: FDM materials are strong and durable.
  3. Speed: FDM allows for quick turn around times.

Drawbacks in using FDM

  1. Accuracy: FDM technology only allows for relatively low resolutions, up to 0.100mm.
  2. Surface finish: FDM technology will show each layer in the 3D print. 3D parts can, however, be sanded down to improve finish.

You can learn more about Fictiv's FDM 3D printing services here.

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