There is a very good chance that you’ve ever seen a 3D printer at a trade show or your school, it was an FDM printer. The FDM printer is the most common type of 3D printer currently available, coming in a host of makes and configurations.
Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is a 3D printing process where thermoplastic filament or feedstock is heated to the required temperature and incrementally laid in a specified pattern. The technology makes use of gantry mounted belt/chain drives to move the extrusion head along the X and Y axis, and then either the extruder head is elevated or the build plate is moved downwards in order to allow layered deposition along the Z axis to effect completion of the 3 dimensional object. Subsequent layers of thermoplastic material fuse fuse together as they are deposited ultimately forming the desired shape.
Sounds simple, right?
It can be.
And it can certainly be very entertaining and rewarding watching as an object of your creation comes – literally – to life. However there are a great many details about the type of material, design and settings that should also be considered when FDM printing.
Broadly defined in two parts – the cold and hot ends – the extruder is the heart of the FDM printer. Primary components of the cold end include stepper motor controlled feeder gears that control the flow rate of filament. The hot end melts the filament, and the nozzle is one of the ways used to define how fine the layer being deposited will be.
WHY SHOULD I USE FDM PRINTING?
- FDM printing is the most common type of 3D printing currently available.
- Because they are so common, they are also the most affordable type of 3D printer – ranging from less than $500 upwards.
- The popularity of FDM printing means there are a large number of support forums.
- FDM printing offers the broadest range of filament materials – ranging from entry level PLA to PEEK.
…AND THE DRAWBACKS?
- FDM printing is slower than other forms of additive
- Though generally FDM layer resolution is good, it is not as good as resin printing (for example) or selective laser sintering
Below is a partial list of the various thermoplastic filaments that can be used when FDM 3D printing.
Clicking on the picture will allow you to view further information on each filament.
PLA (click to view)
ABS (click to view)
PETG (click to view)
PVB (click to view)
PVA (click to view)
HIPS (click to view)
Breakaway (click to view)
COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL FILAMENTS I
PC (click to view)
PP (click to view)
ASA (click to view)
Acetal (click to view)
COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL FILAMENTS III
TPU (click to view)
TPA (click to view)
TPC (click to view)
PCTPE (click to view)
Antibacterial (click to view)
…filled (click to view)
Polywood (click to view)
COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL FILAMENTS II
Nylon (click to view)
Metal Casting (click to view)
Carbon Fiber (click to view)
Glass Fiber (click to view)
i3D has nurtured relationships with various manufacturers to offer a range of 3Dprinters that offer the widest range of options and features. The FUSION 3, FLASHFORGE and TIERTIME line of polymer FDM 3D printers: Exceptionally easy to use and cost-effective, they are also the most reliable and offer the most versatility — for business and personal users alike.
You are sure to find one below with just the features you need. Models vary according to:
- number of extruders
- extruder temperature
- filament sensors
- auto leveling bed
- automatic filament feeding
Both FLASHPRINT and Tiertime’s UP STUDIO and new Catfish softwares offer the user a wide choice of slicing and printer control capabilities.
FUNMAT HIGH TEMPERATURE FDM PRINTER
FUSION3 F410 HIGH SPEED COMMERCIAL FDM PRINTER
TIERTIME X5 CONTINUOUS PRINT FDM PRINTER
CREATOR 3 INDEPENDENT DUAL EXTRUDER FDM PRINTER
GUIDER 2s ECONOMY HIGH VOLUME FDM PRINTER
CREATOR PRO ECONOMY DUAL EXTRUDER FDM PRINTER
TIERTIME UP MINI 2ES ECONOMY FDM PRINTER
HOW BIG IS BIG?
FDM printers come equipped with a wide range of features, Below is a comparative illustration of the build volumes for the various FDM printers, and the Shining A300 SLA printer, and the size of the LG smartphone.