Fused Deposition Modeling* is a manufacturing process which uses a thermoplastic filament form being used to create a 3D object. The plastic filament is melted and extruded in 2D toolpaths, and layer-by-layer these 2D "slices" are built into the desired 3D object.
*Another name for FDM is Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) which is the generic term for this technology.
Why would I use this process to create a 3D part?
FDM printing is one of the cheapest 3D printing technologies, so it's great for rapid prototyping or making fun trinkets. It is also a great option for aesthetic prints since FDM can handle complex geometries that traditional manufacturing methods cannot.
- Large selection of materials, including many common thermoplastics
- Least expensive printer technology and materials
- Possible to print with multiple materials
- Minimal post processing
- Parts are durable over time.
- Can build fully functional parts in standard plastics.
- Certain geometries may require supports
- Anisotropic mechanical properties
- Ridges/steps on surface texture
- Detail limited to nozzle size (~ 0.4 mm)