Understanding Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), a Commonly Used 3D Printing Method

Many of HLH Prototypes models designed using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology have earned acclaim by the clients. It is one of the most common 3D printing methods. Do you know how this technology works.

FDM printers use a thermoplastic filament, heated to its melting point before extruding, layer by layer, creating a 3D object. Objects created using the technology start out as computer-aided design (CAD) files that are converted to a format, usually .STL, that a 3D printer can understand.

The printers use two types of materials – a modeling material constituting the finished object and a support material which supports the object being printed.

Through the process of printing, the modeling material takes the form of filaments, unwound from a coil. An extrusion nozzle melts the filaments, extruding them onto a base. A computer would control the nozzle as well as the base, translating the dimensions of an object into X, Y and Z coordinates required during the printing.

The extrusion nozzle would typically make horizontal and vertical movement over the build platform. The thin layer of molten material cools and hardens, binding to the layer beneath it. The base would be lowered when a layer is done, making the space for the next layer.

When the object is off the FDM printer, the support materials are taken out. The printed objects may undergo processes like sanding, milling, painting or plating to augment function and appearance.

Plastic is an ideal material for creating prototypes for machine components, thanks to its flexibility. Plastic used towards this objective is made of industrial grade materials, capable of withstanding higher temperatures and pressure.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), a thermoplastic, is the most common printing material for FDM. Some FDM machines may print in thermoplastics such as polycarbonate (PC) or polyetherimide (PEI). As support materials, brittle thermoplastics or water-soluble wax are used.

FDM is a popular and cheap method of producing quick models for testing and the relatively cheap cost of the machines and is just one of the 3d prototyping services HLH offer

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