Fused Deposition Modeling, or FDM, is a thermoplastic filament-based printing process that has been around for over 20 years. Parts made using FDM are created by heating filament and fusing it layer-by-layer to create the final part. Soluble support material is added to build overhangs or cavities in the part and is removed when the print is completed, leaving only the model material. Parts can be printed with a variety of internal structures and densities to optimize weight, cost, and time without losing strength. With our largest build unit, we are capable of printing single parts as large as 2' x 3' x 3'.
FDM printing offers our widest range of material options with 14 unique options. For general prototyping, PLA, ASA and ABS are great choices due to their low cost and high durability. PLA is our most inexpensive option and is ideal for non-functional parts. ASA and ABS are very similar materials with the strength that makes them great options for testing form, fit, and function. ASA has improved chemical and UV resistance, so it is the preferred material for outdoor or shop environments.
For higher performance materials, we carry 2 nylon options - Nylon 6 and Nylon 12. These thermoplastics exhibit excellent vibration and fatigue resistance and have higher strengths than ABS/ASA while still maintaining some flexibility. Common uses are for snap-fit designs and flexible parts.
Polycarbonate (or PC) has high tensile and flexural strengths as well as resistance to heat. As a result, PC is excellent when used for molding equipment, tooling, and tough end-use parts.
TPU92A is an elastomer with a Shore A value of 92 that can stretch, flex, and resist tearing. Avoid the expensive molding tooling commonly needed to produce elastomeric parts by utilizing this economical option. TPU is best for flexible hose, tubing, duct, and vibration dampening applications.
Our most robust FDM materials are ULTEM 1010 and ULTEM 9085. These plastics have extreme temperature resistance, tensile strength, and chemical resistance. They are great options for functional parts, autoclave operations, and tooling.
Depending on the material, FDM parts have many different applications. Typically, FDM is best suited for making inexpensive prototypes, tooling, and large parts. Using high-performance materials, it is possible to make anything from car components to aircraft parts.
Talk to us today to see if FDM printing is the best fit for your project.