Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) creates models by heating and extruding a filament of plastic material.

FDM machines typically produce polycarbonate and ABS prototypes. FDM 3D printed parts are used in product development applications as well as additive manufacturing applications because of the robustness of the parts. ABS prototype parts are often used for first off fit and function prototype tests but rarely when smooth surface finish is critical because of the relatively thick build lines. FDM is best suited for non-visible parts where surface finish is not critical. The parts are porous but can be sealed using different processes or chemicals.

Advantages:

  • Easy to use - all computer controlled
  • Multiple colors of plastic is available
  • ABS like material
  • Waterproof

Disadvantages

  • Tolerance of +/- 0.005" overall
  • Seam line between layers
  • The extrusion head must continue moving, or else material bumps up
  • Supports may be required
  • Part strength is weak perpendicular to build axis