Fused filament fabrication (FFF), also known under the trademarked term fused deposition modeling (FDM) is a 3D printing process that uses a continuous filament of a thermoplastic material. The first FDM machine was developed by S. Scott Crump, co-founder of Stratasys, in 1988. The way the machine functions is that filament is fed from a large coil through a moving, heated printer extruder head, and is deposited on the growing work. The print head is moved under computer control to define the printed shape. The head moves in two dimensions to deposit one horizontal plane, or layer, at a time; the work or the print head is then moved vertically by a small amount to begin a new layer.
Perfect for fit, function and conceptual models that require durability, great thermal properties and RF friendly characteristics. FDM is also an excellent candidate for AM (Additive Manufacturing), in which one or multiple parts are required in an actual production grade thermoplastic. FDM 3D Printing is capable of holding part tolerances of +/- .005″ for first 5 inches, +/- .001″ inch per inch thereafter in ABS. Same part repeatability in ABS is +/- .001″. FDM 3D Printed models can be built up to: 36″ x 24″ x 36″ (914mm x 610mm x 914mm). Larger models of virtually any size can be sectioned and assembled with glue joints upon completion to enable very large components to be produced.
When selecting a material for use on an FDM part there are various polymer options these include:
Engineers and Designers who are planning to produce FDM parts benefit greatly from the design freedom that this process affords. Unlike traditional manufacturing processes like injection molding and CNC Machining where there are limits on what features can be designed into a part due to cost, set up, or tooling restrictions. FDM 3D Printing is an Additive Manufacturing process and therefore you are only limited by your imagination and a few very basic guide lines.
Here is a link to our FDM 3D Printed Part Design Guide, it will offer you useful design tips for this 3D printing process as well as answers to many frequently asked questions about about the FDM 3D printing process:
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