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What is FDM 3D Printing, and How it Works?

FDM 3D Printing, or bonded deposition modeling, is an additive manufacturing method that uses layers of materials to build up an object. Usually, melted material is extruded just past its glass transition temperature and then successively layered on top of or near previous extrusions to create a finished object.

Simply FDM 3d printing uses a filament that is squeezed through a hot end, melted, and then deposited on a print bed in layers. Throughout the print, these layers fuse, and eventually, they form the finished part.

In 1991, Stratasys trademarked the term and abbreviation “FDM,” creating the need for a second name that describes fused filament fabrication. FDM techniques can work with a wide variety of materials, including thermoplastics, chocolate, pastes, and even “exotic” materials such as metal- or wood-infused thermoplastics.

It is widely accepted as a simple and effective method for an Online 3D printing service. Almost all 3D printing is performed using FDM printers, dominating the market. 

FDM: how does it work?

  • A spool of thermoplastic filament is installed into the FDM printer when the nozzle has reached the required temperature, a filament is fed to it, where it melts.
  • The extrusion head moves along three axes in three directions, X, Y, and Z. As the material cool, layers of it are deposited in predetermined locations, where it solidifies and cools again. It is sometimes necessary to use cooling fans attached to the extrusion head to speed up the cooling process.
  • A rectangle must be colored with numerous passes as each layer is completed; a new layer is deposited by moving the build platform downward (or the extrusion head upward in other machines). A new layer is deposited until the part is complete.

Variations in Design and Capabilities

Some of the variations in the extrusion system of 3D printers using fused deposition modeling include:

-Extruders that use reels of thermoplastic filament are the most versatile and common type of extruder

-Extruders that exchange filament for plastic granules

-A chocolate extruder

Extruders for extruding any paste. Food and ceramics are the most common uses. Since the paste is not necessarily a thermoplastic material, it is sometimes categorized separately.

FDM 3D printers use extrusion in which substances are directed through a nozzle onto a build plate, fusing them through heat or material adhesion into specific patterns to create a shape.

Additionally to the three-axis movement of an FDM printer, there are other variations. The two main types of 3D printers are Cartesian – such as RepRap/Prusa i3 or CoreXY – and Delta. Despite the differences, all three methods of printing use the same general principles.

Advantage of FDM

One of best pros of FDM 3D printing is its scalability: It can be scaled to any size. Build areas can be increased by making gantry rails longer – as the only constraint to their size is how far each can move. Unless the benefits outweigh the costs, there are a few minor issues, but no other design can scale up so easily with such little difficulty with FDM printers. Detail or part quality is often cited as one of the downsides of FDM. 

Downside of FDM

A high level of design is difficult to achieve because of layers of material and a set thickness predetermined by the nozzle. The prints often require lots of post-processing to achieve a professional, finished look.