Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is ideal when you need to build concept models, functional prototypes and end-use parts using standard, engineering-grade and high-performance thermoplastics. As you consider the many material options available for FDM versus other additive manufacturing technologies, remember that this process uses the same types of raw materials used in the injection molding process.
FDM is a filament-based additive technology distributed by a moving print head that extrudes a heated thermoplastic material in a pattern layer-by-layer onto a build platform. This technology includes the use of support material to create supportive structures removed by force or solution. FDM is the best choice for jigs and fixtures, molds, tooling and other functional parts that require durability and resistance. Additional examples of FDM include medical tissue engineering, rapid prototyping, modeling, production applications and more.
The FDM process begins when a computer-aided design (CAD) design is made. The CAD file acts as a set of instructions or blueprints for the machine. An FDM printer will use two types of materials—one for modeling and the other for support. Once the printing begins, filaments are unwound from a coil and fed into an extrusion nozzle. The nozzle is heated to melt the material and can be moved in horizontal and vertical directions, controlled by computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software package. The model or part is produced by extruding small beads of thermoplastic material to form successive layers, with each material layer hardening immediately after extrusion from the nozzle. Once the piece is made, the support structures must be removed by force or solution. The size and complexity of the part design will impact the amount of time it will take to complete the build process.
One of the most essential advantages of FDM is the ability to use a variety of materials. FDM printers are fed by a filament from a spool, usually thermoplastic and organic material blends. Several materials are available with different trade-offs between strength and temperature properties. FDM technology can be used with ABS polymers, polycarbonates, polycaprolactone, polyphenyl sulfones, waxes and more. The material selected will affect the accuracy and properties of the part produced as well as the cost.
AMT’s PostPro3D technology is a smart and automated post processing solution for smoothing FDM 3D printed parts. PostPro3D achieves a high quality surface finish that matches injection molding techniques using 3D printing processes. This enabling technology reduces lead-time, cost of manufacture, operational and maintenance costs providing the ‘missing piece’ in the digital manufacturing chain. The PostPro3D machine makes 3D part surface finishing speed and cost competitive for high volume production.
Talk to an expert at Fathom today to take your parts to the next level using AMT PostPro3D for post processing.
FDM 3D Printed Parts and Images
|TPU 92A |
(thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer)
|Antero™ 800NA |
|ULTEM™ 1010 resin |
|ULTEM™ 9085 resin |
|FDM Nylon 12™ |
|FDM Nylon 12CF™ |
(polycarbonate – ISO 10993 USP Class VI biocompatible)
(polycarbonate – acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)
(acrylonitrile styrene acrylate)
(acrylonitrile butadiene styrene – static dissipative)
(acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)
0.005 inch (0.127 mm) layer thickness not available for Stratasys F900.
See individual material spec sheets for testing details.
Actual surface resistance may range from 109 to 106 ohms, depending upon geometry, build style and finishing techniques.
Available only on the Stratasys F370
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There are many advantages to FDM 3D printing. One main benefit of FDM technology is its ability to produce parts and prototypes using engineering grade plastics. FDM thermoplastic parts are strong, durable and are dimensionally stable. FDM parts can be used for advanced conceptual models, functional prototyping, production parts and manufacturing tools. Modern FDM 3D printing machines possess large build envelopes capable of producing larger pieces at higher quantities than other additive manufacturing technologies. Today’s FDM printers are so efficient that they can eliminate many of the steps necessary with traditional manufacturing. As a result, overhead costs are reduced and there is a quicker turnaround. Brands often select FDM technology due to the wide selection and lower price of materials. Multiple different types of material can be used simultaneously in the FDM process. Some additional benefits of FDM include / /
Startups and large aerospace companies have all used Fused Deposition Modeling to produce their products. FDM parts are durable, chemical resistant and can endure extreme conditions, making them ideal for testing and end-use parts. As FDM technology continues to advance, more and more industries have adopted the technology, including / /
A primary benefit of FDM is the ability to test a design before transitioning to the production process. This allows designers and engineers to identify any issues and make improvements early in the design process. The ability to test saves a lot of time and money in the long run. A functional prototype can be produced within a few hours or days, depending on the complexity of the part. Having a functional prototype not only reduces the time to market but maximizes the overall product performance.
FDM technology also presents an opportunity to create custom tooling and fixtures. This allows a brand the flexibility to take on new projects and lower costs and risks in a timely manner, much quicker than with traditional production. Rather than spend a lot of time and money on tooling and making a custom mold or cast, you can print it with FDM.
A low-volume production run is easy with FDM. There is no minimum quantity requirement; you can make as much or as little as is required. Production can start as soon as a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) design is available and translated to the 3D printing machine.
Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) is the same process as FDM. The two terms can be used interchangeably. FFF uses a filament material that is layered and then fused, just like FDM. Fused Deposition Modeling was initially invented and trademarked by Stratysys, Inc. in 1988. The patent did not expire until 2009. To avoid trademark violations, other 3D printing companies began to reference the technology as Fused Filament Fabrication.
FDM technology was invented by Stratasys founder, Scott Crump, nearly 30 years ago using the same production-grade thermoplastics found in traditional manufacturing processes. FDM is ideal for applications that require tight tolerances, toughness and environmental stability. The materials available for FDM also meet applications requiring specialized properties such as electrostatic dissipation, translucence, biocompatibility, VO flammability or FST ratings.
FDM Timeline / /
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