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Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D Printing

FDM technology creates objects by layering thermoplastic filament, building them up gradually. Find top-quality components for fast prototyping and small-scale industrial manufacturing through Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printing. Our FDM services enable swift production with a diverse range of durable materials suitable for various applications. Experience rapid turnaround times, as we can deliver printed parts within just 24 hours.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is a leading 3D printing technology that utilizes plastic filament, typically in thread or wire form, as its primary material. This filament is extruded through the printer's nozzle, layer by layer, to create the final product. Also known as Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), this process originated in the 1980s.

FDM printers employ various movement mechanisms, including Cartesian, Core XY, Delta, and others. Our tailored guidance can assist you in selecting the most appropriate movement mechanism for your application, ensuring alignment with your project's unique requirements.

Embark on a journey into the captivating world of 3D printing technology, focusing on Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), the most widely used method. Explore the intricacies and applications of FDM, gaining a deep understanding of its capabilities. Compare FDM with other 3D printing methods to uncover its distinct features and advantages. Equip yourself with the knowledge needed to navigate the diverse landscape of 3D printing technologies, empowering you to make informed decisions for your creative or industrial endeavors.

3d printing FDM Machine setup step

History

Although Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) has become the most widely used 3D printing method, it might be surprising to learn that it wasn't the first of its kind. In fact, it wasn't even the second.

The initial patent for Stereolithography (SLA) was filed three years before Scott Crump applied for the first FDM patent in 1989, and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) had its patent filed a year before FDM.

FDM gained popularity among non-commercial users later through the RepRap community, operating under the alternative name Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). The RepRap Project, initiated in 2005 by Adrian Bowyer at the University of Bath, aimed to create self-replicating devices.

In 2009, following the expiration of the FDM patent, MakerBot Industries was established by former RepRap volunteers. This marked a significant moment, as MakerBot became one of the pioneering non-industrial companies to commercialize open-source FDM 3D printers based on the RepRap project.

HOW IT WORKS

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), alternatively referred to as Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), is a technique utilized for crafting three-dimensional objects by precisely extruding and layering thermoplastics. While it may seem intricate at first glance, a closer examination uncovers its inherent simplicity.

Essentially, FDM functions via two main systems: one responsible for overseeing the extrusion and deposition of thermoplastic material, and the other for regulating the movement of the printhead. In the forthcoming sections, we shall explore the functionalities and interplay of these systems to enhance our comprehension of FDM.

Extrusion & Deposition

FDM-3D Printing-process

In the intricate domain of 3D printing, the extrusion and deposition system can be dissected into two primary segments: the "cold end" and the "hot end." The cold end oversees the initial phases, directing thermoplastic material—typically in filament spool configuration—into the 3D printer. Its function encompasses not only ensuring smooth material feeding but also regulating the deposition rate, commonly denoted as "flow."

Conversely, the hot end assumes a pivotal role in elevating the temperature of the plastic material to a level conducive for extrusion through a nozzle. This heating procedure entails indispensable elements such as heating cartridges, heatsinks, and notably, nozzles.

The symbiotic relationship between the cold and hot ends is indispensable, as they must collaborate seamlessly to extrude the precise amount of material at the optimal temperature and physical state, thereby ensuring the precise layering of each component.

Filament

In this article, we have extensively discussed the critical component for FDM 3D printing, commonly referred to as filament. Essentially, filament is a lengthy strand of polymer-based material neatly wound onto a spool.
 

The standard diameter for filament strands is typically either 1.75 or 2.85 mm, contingent upon the configuration of the 3D printer's extrusion assembly. It's important to note that a 1.75-mm extruder is exclusive to this filament size.

Among the popular filaments for FDM, PLA, PETG, and ABS reign supreme, with PLA being recognized as the most user-friendly due to its ease of 3D printing, biodegradability, and lack of odor. However, it has the drawback of low heat resistance, softening at temperatures as modest as 60 °C.
 

On the other hand, PETG boasts superior temperature resistance but presents challenges during 3D printing, being prone to issues like oozing and stringing. ABS takes the lead in mechanical properties but demands a controlled printing environment, as it releases toxic fumes, necessitating the use of an enclosure.
 

It's crucial to acknowledge that the experience with each filament type can vary based on the user, equipment, and particularly the filament manufacturer. As highlighted earlier, a key advantage of FDM 3D printing lies in its material flexibility and wide availability in the market.

fdm filament

FDM 3D Printing Parameters

Build Volume : The size of the object to be 3d printed depends upon the build volume of the FDM Machine. General rule of thumb suggests a build volume of 300X300X300 mm. There are other industrial grade FDM Machines as well for catering to the dimensions higher than that mentioned above.

Layer adhesion: Layer Adhesion is a very important parameter for getting successful 3d prints. It depends on several factors like build plate temperature, nozzle temperature, z level distance, speed and flow.

These are some beginner level parameters that can help you understand more about the technology

Layer Height and line width: Layer Height is the height of material extruded. This Directly affects the quality of the 3d print. Smaller layer heights lead to better quality but increase in 3d printing time. On the other hand increased layer heights and line width also play a critical role for making stronger products so the layer height also depends upon the application. The general rule recommends 0.2 layer height and 0.4 line width with a 0.4 nozzle.

Support Structures: Support structures play a big role as they are a part of the object being printed. Supports are required where there is no base for the part to be printed upon. The general rule of thumb allows for 45- 55 degrees angle that can be printed without supports depending upon the machine.

Temperature and speed: Different polymers come with different melting points therefore it is recommended to have the material specification sheet and set nozzle and bed temperatures accordingly. The speed can also affect the temperatures therefore it is recommended to set it as 50-100 mm/s.

Infill: Infill is the amount of material that you want to add to the part. You can make the part heavy or light depending upon the application. There are also different infill patterns for different applications. For example gyroid can provide properties where part is strong from all directions. Triangle infill can help with strong infill bonds.

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