Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
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The Complete Guide to 3D Printing Plastic Parts with FDM

What Is Fused Deposition Modeling?

a tan ultem part 3d printed with fused deposition modelingFDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) offers 3D printing’s unparalleled design freedom and fast lead times coupled with strong thermoplastics.

FDM Part Strength

FDM utilizes strong, engineering-grade materials like ABS, Polycarbonate and ULTEM™ 9085 Resin.

FDM can create production parts and functional prototypes with outstanding thermal and chemical resistance and excellent strength-to-weight ratios.

FDM from the Pioneers of 3D Printing

Being a part of the family that invented FDM technology means we’re backed by Stratasys’ strong commitment to R&D.

Our in-house FDM experts are constantly exploring new applications and possibilities alongside the Stratasys team.

FDM's Big Impact with Small Production Runs

FDM helps companies say yes to more opportunities in low-volume, customized production parts.

How Does FDM Work?

FDM technology allows you to use engineering-grade thermoplastics that are ready for harsh environments, tough testing, and demanding applications.

Use the same strong, stable plastics you’re familiar with to build geometries only attainable with 3D printing.

Engineer-Grade Thermoplastics with FDM

A wide-range of industry specific thermoplastics will help you achieve specific characteristics.

Projects in the industrial, heavy machinery and transportation industries utilize PC-ABS for its superior strength, and aerospace engineers favor ULTEM™ 9085 Resin and ULTEM™ 1010 Resin for their FST ratings and FAA 25.853 compliance.

Some materials feature biocompatibility and MRI transparency for medical applications.

Sparse vs. Solid Fill

a black fdm sparse fill partOne unique function of FDM 3D printers is a build mode that allows users to fill in thicker sections of the part geometry with what’s called “sparse fill.”

Sparse fill is when plastic is extruded in a scaffolding construction instead of a standard 3D printed layer. Solid fill is when the interior sections of the geometry have no air-gap between raster (the interior fill).

This results in sections of a 3D part being nearly hollow, but with the support needed to retain strength and rigidity. The exterior of either solid or sparse looks the same, while the sparse version greatly reduces the weight when compared to its solid counterpart.

Sparse-filled parts can be finished with the same post processes as solid-filled parts with the same processes as solid-filled parts (such as epoxy, primer, and paint).

Reduced Weight

Sparse fill means less material built into the part, so the weight of the final part is significantly reduced.

Reduced Build Time

Because the 3D printer has less plastic to lay down in each layer, a part that utilizes sparse fill takes less time to build, reducing delivery time.

Reduced Part Cost

Additionally, the reduction in material used to build spare fill parts and faster print time contributes to a cheaper overall part.

Materials for 3D Printing Parts with FDM

Discover real engineering-grade thermoplastics formulated for additive technology. Subject materials to harsh environments, tough testing and demanding applications.


Description Benefits Applications Properties


General use "go-to" material. Variety of color options. Good for parts 1" inch cubed to parts larger than 5' feet.
  • Up to 70% stronger than ABS
  • High or coarse resolutions available for finer features or large models
  • Quick turn prototype and functional models
  • Concept parts
  • Production parts
  • Lightweight custom jigs & fixtures
  • Thermoform tools


Strong ABS thermoplastic compounded with carbon resulting in static dissipative properties Static dissipative properties for applications where a static charge can:
  • Damage products
  • Impair performance
  • Cause an explosion
  • Fixtures, cases, enclosures for electronic component assembly
  • Packaging
  • Production line/conveyer parts


Superior strength ABS; Translucent
  • Superior strength vs. ABS
  • Durable
  • Translucency in three colors - Natural (clear), Amber, Red
  • Conceptual parts
  • Light transmission
  • Material flow monitoring
  • Functional prototyping


Bio-compatible (ISO 10993; USP Class VI) NSF 51 Food-contact certification
  • Good tensile, flexural & impact strength
  • Gamma and EtO sterilizable
  • Medical handling
  • Food handling
  • Pharmaceutical handling and tools


General use "go-to" material UV-stable with a variety of color-fast color options
  • Great heat resistance vs. ABS
  • Great aesthetics
  • Easy to work with matte finish
  • Resists fading & significant mechanical degradation over prolonged UV exposure
  • Automotive, electrical housings
  • Sporting goods
  • Outdoor goods
  • Recreational vehicles
  • Tooling masters


Accurate, rigid, stable
  • RF transparent
  • High tensile and flexural strength
  • Higher heat resistance
  • Rapid tooling
  • Concept models
  • Jigs & fixtures
  • Extrusion blow molding


Superior strength & heat resistance of PC with flexibility of ABS
  • High impact strength
  • High heat resistance
  • Industrial equipment manufacturing
  • Form, fit, functional prototypes
  • Low volume production parts


Accurate, rigid, stable; Bio-compatible (ISO 10993; USP Class VI)
  • Gamma & EtO sterilizable for medical
  • RF transparent
  • High tensile and flexural strength
  • Higher heat resistance
  • Food packaging
  • Drug packaging
  • Medical device manufacturing


PPSF (PPSU) combines strong mechanical performance with high temperature and chemical resistance
  • Suitable for steam autoclave, EtO, plasma, chemical, and radiation sterilization
  • Heat and chemical resistance
  • Strong mechanical properties
  • Functional prototypes exposed to extreme conditions
  • Filter housings
  • Under-hood automotive scenarios

ULTEM™ 1010 Resin

Rigid, highest heat resistance; FST certified; Bio-compatible; Food contact certified
  • Steam autoclavable
  • NSF-51 food contact
  • Bio-compatible ISO 10993/USP Class VI FST certified per "14 CFR/FAR 25.853" & "ASTM F814/E662"
  • Aerospace applications
  • Composite tooling
  • Medical applications
  • Food contact applications

ULTEM™ Resin 9085

High strength, high heat resistance; FST certified per "14 CFR/FAR 25.853" & "ASTM F814/E662"
  • High strength to weight ratio
  • High thermal and chemical resistance
  • Aerospace applications
  • ECS ducting
  • Metal forming tools

ULTEM™ 9085 CG Resin

FDM Pro - Low coefficient of variance and increased mechanical properties vs. the standard ULTEM™ 9085 Resin. FST certified per "14 CFR/FAR 25.853" & "ASTM F814/E662"
  • High strength to weight ratio
  • High thermal and chemical resistance
  • Leading repeatability part to part
  • Aerospace applications
  • Aircraft interior replacement parts
  • ECS ducting
  • Metal forming tools

Nylon 12

High elongation at break, fatigue resistance; Resistance to moderate solvents, alcohols, chemicals
  • High fatigue resistance
  • Exposure to shock, repeat load cycles, stress or vibration
  • Panels, covers, housings with snap-fit clips
  • Environmental control ducting or venting
  • Drill guides
  • Parts exposed to high vibration, repetitive stress

Nylon 12CF

Chipped Carbon Fiber filled Nylon 12 combined with Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Properties
  • Highest Strength & Stiffness to weight ratio
  • Tooling applications
  • Metal replacement
  • Lightweight functional prototypes
  • Select end use parts

Antero 800NA (PEKK)

Antero™ 800NA PEKK-based thermoplastic combines FDM's design freedom and ease of use with the excellent mechanical properties and low outgassing characteristics of PEKK material
  • High strength to weight ratio
  • High thermal and chemical resistance
  • Leading repeatability part to part
  • Aerospace applications
  • Aircraft interior replacement parts
  • ECS ducting
  • Metal forming tools

Antero 840CN03 (PEKK)

Antero™ 840CN03 is a PEKK-based FDM thermoplastic combining the excellent physical and mechanical qualities of PEKK with electrostatic dissipative (ESD) properties. The material is filled 3% by weight with carbon nanotubes.
  • Exceptional chemical and wear resistance
  • Ultra-low outgassing properties
  • Consistent ESD performance
ESD values range from 104 – 109 ohms per square inch. This makes the material particularly suitable for space and industrial applications where these qualities are critical. DATASHEET

TPU 92A Elastomer

FDM® TPU 92A is a thermoplastic polyurethane with a Shore A value of 92. FDM TPU 92A brings the benefits of elastomers to FDM 3D printing and offers the capability to quickly produce large and complex elastomer parts.
  • High elongation
  • Superior toughness
  • Durability
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Flexible hoses
  • Tubes
  • Air ducts
  • Seals
  • Protective covers
  • Vibration dampeners

Get a Quote

Ready to make your part with FDM? Upload your CAD file now to select your material and generate an instant quote.

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Get Design Services

Need some assistance with your 3D design? Our design services team offers a suite of solutions, including file creation and file repair.

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Use Material Wizard

Want to compare FDM material properties? Use our material wizard to find out which materials meet your part's requirements.

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Fused Deposition Modeling Applications

Production Parts

FDM has proven to build durable production parts for low-volume and short-run production applications. It is also effective for high volumes of components when the designs are too complex for conventional manufacturing to execute.

Read More

Jigs & Fixtures

With fast lead times and lightweight possibilities, our advanced manufacturing solutions allow for custom operator and applications like jigs and fixtures.

Read More

Functional Prototypes

FDM parts are mechanically, thermally and chemically strong, making it an ideal technology for challenging plastic applications.

Read More

Proven Expertise with FDM

a 3d printing engineer shows a finished fdm part to a customerMaking a precision FDM part takes more than just a machine. It takes a responsive team behind the technology, working to validate the materials and processes that ensure your project’s success.

As part of the Stratasys family, our FDM services are backed by pioneers of the 3D printing industry.

FDM Expertise in Your Corner

Years of experience with FDM has led us to develop proprietary manufacturing techniques and undertake material development for specialized applications.

With quality certifications ISO 9001 and AS9100 certifications and ITAR registration, our team of engineers won’t rest until your requirements are met for precise parts.

Have an FDM Question?

Our team of experts are ready to take on your project with our advanced manufacturing solutions.

Not sure where to start? Our experts are here to help.

Contact an Engineer

Fused Deposition Modeling Resources

3D Printing Puts Fixtures into Gear

Automotive parts supplier gets up to speed on FDM’s capabilities for fixtures

Read Case Study

Bringing Downtown Detroit to Life

The District Detroit Project Uses FDM to Showcase a New Motor City

The District Detroit Project Uses FDM to Showcase a New Motor City

Read Case Study

Jigs & Fixtures for the Production Floor

Open up new possibilities for manufacturing-floor productivity.

Download White Paper

Frequently Asked Questions About Fused Deposition Modeling

black functional prototype 3d printed with fused deposition modelingAre FDM parts as strong as components built using traditional manufacturing methods?

The orientation of a printed part on the build platform has an effect on its strength. Parts are stronger along the X- and Y-axis of the build than the Z-axis.

What level of detail can be obtained with FDM?

FDM is available in several resolutions. At its highest resolution, the layer thickness is 0.005” and the X/Y resolution is 0.024”.

Can inserts be staked or added during an FDM build?

Washers, nuts, bolts, threaded rods, or other objects can be inserted mid-build by technicians without secondary operations.

Learn more about what design considerations you should keep in mind with FDM.

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