Mini-Guide: FDM 3D Printing

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is a 3D printing technology that builds a part layer by layer by depositing heated thermoplastic along an extrusion path.

By Greg Paulsen · July 24, 2015

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is a 3D printing technology that builds a part layer by layer by depositing heated thermoplastic along an extrusion path.

We’ve put together this mini-guide to help inspire and inform your decisions when designing for FDM 3D printing.


Real Engineering Thermoplastics

The availability of a broad range of engineering thermoplastics gives FDM a distinct advantage over other 3D printing technologies.

FDM 3D Printing with ABS

ABS

ABS is a strong and stable production-grade thermoplastic available in a wide range of colors and material properties.

FDM 3D Printing with Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate (PC), one of the most widely used industrial thermoplastics, offers high tensile and flexural strength.

FDM 3D Printing with Nylon 12

Nylon 12

Nylon 12 is widely used in traditional manufacturing for its excellent value and offers the best Z-axis lamination and impact strength of any FDM thermoplastic.

FDM 3D Printing with Ultem

Ultem

Ultem is a high-performance thermoplastic known for its reliability and excellent mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties.


FDM 3D Printing with a variety of colors

Colors

In addition to its vast material selection, FDM offers a wide range of color options.

White

Light Gray

Gray

Dark Gray

Black

Yellow

Orange

Red

Green

Blue

Dark Blue

Ivory

Natural

Translucent Natural

Translucent Amber

Translucent Red


FDM 3D Printing is a faster alternative to injection molding

Speed

Like all additively manufactured parts, there’s no custom tooling or mold making involved, so your parts are made on-demand. It is a faster alternative to injection molding for prototypes and low-volume production.


Complex Geometries with FDM 3D Printing

Complex Geometries

The freedom to design and manufacture complex geometries and intricate interior structures is one of the great promises of additive manufacturing. 3D printing technologies allow you to create parts impossible to manufacture any other way. Think outside the box!


Tight tolerances with FDM 3D Printing

Accuracy of FDM 3D Printing

Xometry’s FDM service allows you to produce parts with a consistently tight tolerance of +/-0.005″.


Large build volume with FDM 3D Printing

Large Build Volume

Xometry’s FDM solution offers large build volumes up to 36″ x 24″ x 36″.


The effect of slope on FDM 3D Printing

Design Tip: Slope Angle

Because FDM grows a part layer-by-layer, shallow sloping features will result in a more visible stepping effect.


The resolution limits of FDM 3D Printing

Design Tip: Knife Edges

Sharp angles, or knife edged features, may approach the resolution limits of FDM, resulting in unpredictable physical characteristics. One way to overcome this is to thicken the feature slightly.


Design Tip: Infills

Infill describes how a solid part should be filled with material during the build process. Xometry offers 3 infill options with different properties.

Ultralight infill with FDM 3D Printing

Ultralight

Xometry’s Ultralight infill parts are filled with a single cross-hatch pattern. This is the lightest and least expensive infill option.

Light infill with FDM 3D Printing

Light

Xometry’s Light infill parts are filled with a double cross-hatch pattern. This option provides increased rigidity and is lighter than a complete solid infill.

Solid infill with FDM 3D Printing

Solid

Xometry’s Solid infill parts are completely filled and fully dense. This is the heaviest and most expensive option.


Instant Quoting for FDM 3D Printing

Instant Quoting

Another feature unique to Xometry is automatic and instant quoting on 3D printed orders. Just upload a 3D CAD file and select a 3D printed material of your choice to price your order. Trust us, it’s as easy as it sounds.

Try it out!


Quoting Platform

Get FDM 3D Printed Parts Starting at $15

FDM is a mature 3D printing technology that offers incredible price-performance compared to traditional manufacturing.


Preparing a File for 3D Printing

Bonus: How to Prepare a File for 3D Printing

For an in-depth look at designing for 3D printing, check out our free design guide!

Download our 3D Printing Design Guide

Posted in Manufacturability Tips

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About Xometry

Xometry is your one-stop shop for manufacturing on demand. Xometry works with 32% of Fortune 100 companies, offering 24/7 access to instant pricing, expected lead times and manufacturability feedback. Xometry’s nationwide network of 4,000+ partner manufacturing facilities guarantees consistently fast lead times across a broad array of capabilities, including CNC Machining, 3D Printing, Sheet Metal, Metal Stamping, Die Casting, Extrusion, Urethane Casting, and Injection Molding.

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