FDM Technology builds parts in the same strong, stable plastics used in injection molding, CNC machining and other traditional manufacturing processes. Harness the power of 3D printing while relying on tested, established thermoplastics.

3D print durable parts with real thermoplastic

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Technology is a powerful Stratasys-patented additive manufacturing method.

FDM builds concept models, functional prototypes and end-use parts in standard, engineering-grade and high-performance thermoplastics. It’s the only professional 3D printing technology that uses production-grade thermoplastics, so parts are unrivaled in mechanical, thermal and chemical strength.

Stratasys manufactures several lines of FDM machines, including 3D printers and their big brothers, 3D production systems (or production 3D printers). This includes Dimension, uPrint, and Fortus machines. At the core of each system is Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). Stratasys FDM machines create functional parts by extruding and depositing thermoplastic materials in layers.

Process Overview

FDM builds three-dimensional parts by melting and advancing a fine ribbon of plastic through a computer-controlled extrusion head, producing parts that are ready to use. The automated three-step process is quick and simple:


1. PRE-PROCESSING(“slicing” or sectioning CAD design into layers)

The FDM process begins in a build-preparation program.

In operation, your first step is to import a design file, pick options, and create slices (layers). The preprocessing software calculates sections and “slices” the part design into many layers, ranging from 0.005 inches (0.127 mm) to 0.013 inches (0.3302 mm) in height.

Using the sectioning data, the software then generates “tool paths” or building instructions which will drive the extrusion head.

Part Production

2. PRODUCTION (the layering process)

Press “print” to start the building process.

Two materials, one to make the part, and one to support it, enter the extrusion head. Heat is applied to soften the plastics, which are extruded in a ribbon, roughly the size of a human hair. Alternating between part material and support material, the system deposits layers as thin as 0.005 inch (0.13 mm).


3. POST-PROCESSING (removing disposable support material)

Press “print” to start the building process.

When the part is complete, open the chamber and remove it. Finish up by either washing or stripping away the support material that held the part in place.


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