The Complete Guide to 3D Printing Plastic Parts with FDM
FDM (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
One 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).
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.
Discover real engineering-grade thermoplastics formulated for additive technology. Subject materials to harsh environments, tough testing and demanding applications.
|General use "go-to" material. Variety of color options. Good for parts 1" inch cubed to parts larger than 5' feet.||
|Strong ABS thermoplastic compounded with carbon resulting in static dissipative properties||
Static dissipative properties for applications where a static charge can:
|Superior strength ABS; Translucent||
|Bio-compatible (ISO 10993; USP Class VI) NSF 51 Food-contact certification||
|General use "go-to" material UV-stable with a variety of color-fast color options||
|Accurate, rigid, stable||
|Superior strength & heat resistance of PC with flexibility of ABS||
|Accurate, rigid, stable; Bio-compatible (ISO 10993; USP Class VI)||
|PPSF (PPSU) combines strong mechanical performance with high temperature and chemical resistance||
|Rigid, highest heat resistance; FST certified; Bio-compatible; Food contact certified||
|High strength, high heat resistance; FST certified per "14 CFR/FAR 25.853" & "ASTM F814/E662"||
|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 elongation at break, fatigue resistance; Resistance to moderate solvents, alcohols, chemicals||
|Chipped Carbon Fiber filled Nylon 12 combined with Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Properties||
|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||
|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.||
||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|
|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.||
Get a Quote
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Need some assistance with your 3D design? Our design services team offers a suite of solutions, including file creation and file repair.Get Design Services
Use Material Wizard
Want to compare FDM material properties? Use our material wizard to find out which materials meet your part's requirements.Use Material Wizard
Fused Deposition Modeling Applications
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.
Jigs & Fixtures
With fast lead times and lightweight possibilities, our advanced manufacturing solutions allow for custom operator and applications like jigs and fixtures.
FDM parts are mechanically, thermally and chemically strong, making it an ideal technology for challenging plastic applications.
Proven Expertise with FDM
Making 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.
Fused Deposition Modeling Resources
Bringing Downtown Detroit to LifeThe District Detroit Project Uses FDM to Showcase a New Motor City
The District Detroit Project Uses FDM to Showcase a New Motor CityRead Case Study
Jigs & Fixtures for the Production FloorOpen up new possibilities for manufacturing-floor productivity. Download White Paper
Frequently Asked Questions About Fused Deposition Modeling
Are 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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