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Different Types of FDM 3D Printers

3D printing has evolved remarkably, spawning various printer types since its inception in the 1980s. Originally conceived for crafting custom parts, its applications have expanded considerably. Among the diverse range of 3D printing technologies, fused deposition modeling (FDM) stands out, featuring numerous printer styles. This article will spotlight seven prevalent descriptors: Cartesian, delta, Polar, SCARA, Core-XY, H-bot, and belt.

As we know, FDM technology is based on the extrusion and deposition of molten material layer by layer on a printing plate. The most common filaments used with this process are PLA and ABS, although other more technical thermoplastics such as PETG, ASA, Nylon, Ultima, etc. can also be used.

Types of FDM 3D Printers

Cartesian FDM 3D Printer

Cartesian 3D printers stand out as the prevailing FDM 3D printers available in today's market. Drawing inspiration from the Cartesian coordinate system in mathematics. These printers are based on Cartesian system of three mutually perpendicular axes generally known as X-axis, Y- axis and Z-axis. In these printers, linear motion is exhibited along these axes. The configuration may vary depending on the specific model and manufacturer of the printer.

Cartesian FDM 3D Printers
Delta FDM 3D Printer

Delta FDM 3D Printer

Delta printers, increasingly prominent in the FDM 3D printing market, utilize Cartesian coordinates. Their design features a circular printing plate paired with an extruder mounted at three fixed triangular points, hence the name 'Delta'. These three points control the movement of the print head in both vertical and horizontal directions, determining its position and orientation. Consequently, the printing capabilities of Delta printers are constrained by the diameter of the base and the height of the arms. Delta printers, with their stationary print tray, were engineered to enhance printing speed. Furthermore, they offer the advantage of scalability without compromising print quality. However, calibrating Delta printers can pose a greater challenge compared to other types.

Polar FDM 3D Printer

Polar 3D printers’ positioning is not determined by the X, Y, and Z coordinates, but by an angle and length. The coordinate sets describe points on a circular grid instead of a square, not determined by the X, Y, and Z axes, but by angle and length. This means that the plate rotates and moves at the same time, with the extruder moving up and down.


These printers are ideal for objects that follow a spiral, such as a plant vase or traffic cone.

The advantage of Polar FDM 3D printers is they only have two engines, but Cartesian printers need at least three. In the long term, the polar printer has greater energy efficiency and can make larger objects while using less space. However, polar printers have inconsistent accuracy; as they rotate in a circle, there is much more accuracy in the center than in the outer area.

polar fdm 3d printer
SCARA Robotic Arm 3D Printer

Scara FDM 3D Printer

SCARA 3D printers represent a sophisticated variant of FDM printers, employing Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm (SCARA) technology for operation. SCARA are widely recognized for their role in assembling components within industrial production lines, particularly in expansive automotive plants. Although the integration of robotic arms (SCARA) into 3D printing processes has commenced, notably in the construction of homes and buildings, this technology is still undergoing development. The primary application of Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm remains in the assembly of parts.

Core-XY FDM 3D Printer

FDM 3D printing emerged in 2013 with the introduction of CoreXY printers by an MIT engineer. Although categorized as Cartesian printers in terms of operational coordinate systems, CoreXY printers employ an ingenious motion mechanism, distinguishing them as a relatively new breed in the field

Core-XY FDM 3D Printer
H-BOT FDM 3D Printing

H-Bot FDM 3D Printer

H-bot 3D printers a unique take on traditional box-shaped printer designs. Similar to their predecessors, they fall into the Cartesian category due to their utilization of a Cartesian coordinate system. In operation, an H-bot printer employs a solitary belt to maneuver the printhead within the XY-plane. Conventionally, the printhead traverses along an X-axis gantry, which in turn shifts along the Y-axis. Movement along the Z-axis occurs as the build plate initiates from the uppermost position near the nozzle and descends downward.

Belt FDM 3D Printer

Belt 3D printers stand out from other Cartesian styles due to their unique mechanical setup, featuring a sizable movable belt serving as the print bed. In terms of the printhead's motion system, most belt printers adopt either a Cartesian-XY-head configuration or a CoreXY setup, albeit with the frame (excluding the bed) tilted at a 45-degree angle. Instead of a traditional print surface, these printers utilize a conveyor belt-like mechanism, enabling movement along the combined Z- and Y-axes. This setup allows the belt to produce either a single, uninterrupted long piece or continuously print numerous small parts.

Belt FDM 3D Printer_edited
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