FDM is one of the most popular 3D printing technologies. It was created in the 80s of the last century, and today it is widely used in numerous industries, both for prototyping, and for creating conceptual models and end products.
How does it work?
FDM technology builds the objects layer by layer from bottom – up by heating and extracting plastic fibers from an extruder. Before the 3D printing process begins, special software cuts the CAD model in layers, which then are physically built with dimensions between 0.05mm and 0.35 mm. After that the plastic is heated and applied by the extruder in X and Y coordinates. If necessary, the 3D printer can add a support material during the process to support the construction of the object. When printing is complete, the support material can be removed.
Most used materials for FDM are ABS, PLA, Nylon, which are suitable for prototypes as well as for end products. The most widely used material in this printing technology is ABS (acrylonitrile – butadiene – styrene) that is sufficiently resistant to external influences, and at the same time it is susceptible to further processing. Among the most commonly used support materials is the water-soluble wax or PPSF (polyphenylsulfone).
The Fused Deposition Modeling technology is preferred because of the thermal and mechanical resistance of the created products. It is relatively easy to use. It allows creating elements with thermoplastic qualities at the production level, which have perfect mechanical, thermal and chemical qualities and can be used in other engineering and manufacturing purposes. Last but not least: this technology is considered for an eco-friendly and sustainable practice.
For these reasons, FDM is used in a wide range of industries and activities, including some of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers, the aviation industry, architecture, and the production of small series of end products in multiple sectors. It is particularly appropriate for the production of spare parts when often is needed small amounts or single items in a short period of time.
It has applications in the field of design and other creative spheres, the creation and testing of the qualities of conceptual models and functional prototypes, the creation of tools, etc. It is also applicable for finishing operations, such as painting, grinding, galvanizing or vacuum metallisation.