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Ultimate FDM 3D Printing Technology Guide

FDM 3D Printing Technology - A Complete Guide 2021

The term FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modelling. In this process, the filament material is deposited in regular and predefined layers through a built nozzle that mainly melts during the extrusion process.

This technology is one of the most prevalent 3D printing technologies that are excellent for basic at-home printers and professional systems used by high tech manufacturing companies. But choosing the right type of printing materials is becoming increasingly challenging due to the availability of so many different variations.

Hence, a comprehensive free FDM 3d printing material guide will explain every nitty-gritty detail about FDM printing technology seamlessly. Let's dive deep into it.

What Are the Common FDM 3D Printing Materials?

There are about seven different materials available. This FDM printing material selection guide covers all the necessary information, including the properties, pros, cons and much more about each material in brief. Let's check them out.

  1. Polylactic Acid (PLA)
  2. Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
  3. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
  4. Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)
  5. Polycarbonate (PC)
  6. Nylon
  7. Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate (ASA)
FDM 3D Printing Technology
Polylactic Acid (PLA)

Polylactic Acid (PLA)

The best part about PLA is that it is sourced from organic materials like cornstarch. PLA is one of the most popular choices in FDM 3D printing since it is very effortless to use and offers a shiny finish with great precision and accuracy.

Characteristics of PLA:

  • Biodegradable and bioactive.
  • Environment-friendly.
  • Available in a variety of colors.
  • Requires lower temperatures and does not shrink much upon application.
  • Higher levels of stress endurance. Most people prefer to heat bake PLA to enhance strength, which is a great advantage.

However, while using PLA for the FDM fused deposition modelling procedure, the operator needs to ensure frequently that the nozzle is not clogged due to moisture from the air.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

This amorphous polymer originates through an emulsion process that includes three different types of components. It uses a higher temperature in comparison to PLA. However, it also has excellent strength and endurance power. It is among the best material options available right now and we will check all of them further below in our free eBook of FDM printing.

Characteristics of ABS:

  • ABS is post-possessed with different materials like acetone vapours, sanding paper, etc., for transforming into a glossy finish and smoothened.
  • The ABS material is highly stiff and exceptionally durable.
  • It is abrasive resistant.
  • It is recyclable and therefore suitable for the environment.
  • It can easily withstand higher temperatures like 212°F (around 100°C).
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

The PET is a thermoplastic polymer that is a combination of two monomers. This material used in FDM technology has excellent durability.

Characteristics of PET:

  • High humidity resistance.
  • Higher weight in comparison to PLA and ABS.
  • It can be post-processed with sanding paper and also painted with acrylics.
  • It has a transparent color but changes to a cloudy color while printing.
  • Medium heat resistance and becomes softer around 158°F (70°C).

Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)

This rubber-like material is a prevalent material used in this additive manufacturing technique while curating semi-flexible parts. It is mostly plastic and a copolymer variant. TPU is among the hardest FDM materials and it’s widely used in producing various household and industrial items.

Characteristics of TPU:

  • Good abrasion resistance.
  • Incredible resistance to oil and grease.
  • Water-resistant.
  • It can effectively withstand higher temperatures up to 176° F (80°C).

Polycarbonate (PC)

This FDM 3D printing material contains carbonate groups in the structure which makes it much more robust.

Characteristics of PC:

  • High strength
  • Mostly transparent
  • High durability
  • High heat resistance

Nylon

The nylon filaments originate from different polyamides, which have exceptionally unique properties that enhance the overall toughness and strength of the print. Nylon is one of the most favorable choices for SLS 3D printing techniques.

Characteristics of Nylon:

  • It can be easily coated, dyed and painted as per the requirements
  • High tensile strength
  • High-temperature resistance
  • High tensile strength
Nylon

Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate (ASA)

This thermoplastic can effectively deliver products with high strength and durability.

Characteristics of ASA:

  • UV resistant
  • Can withstand temperatures up to 208°F (98°C) or as low as - 85°F (- 65°C)
  • Weather-resistant

What Are the Perks of Using FDM 3D Printing Technology?

The FDM fused deposition modelling is one of the preferred techniques of 3D printing because:

  • The entire printing plan is highly scalable as per the requirements due to the high agility of FDM printers.
  • It has a wide range of thermoplastics available, which is appropriate for both commercial and personal uses.
  • It is a cost-effective solution to expensive printing methods and has a quicker delivery span due to the top-notch technology.
  • It has multiple colors to choose from.
  • It is user friendly since it involves no complicated steps.

What Is FDM 3D Printing Technology Mainly Used For?

Some of the top industries that use FDM technology in 3D printing are:

  • Medical industry
  • Automotive industry
  • Aerospace industry
  • Consumer products manufacturing & many more.

FDM printing technology is the top choice for curating jigs, fixtures, molds and various other functional parts in the industries. We hope that this free tutorial on FDM manufacturing and its aspects was insightful in knowing this incredible 3d printing technology.

Industries and Applications

The following industries are the most ardent users of AM technologies in their businesses.

Automotive

Lightweight aerodynamics parts are desirable in the automobile industry. This contributes to making cars more energy efficient. 3D printing in the automotive industry is used both for rapid prototyping services as well as for some end parts creation.

Manufacturing

The precision and accuracy of 3D print processes are helping the manufacturing industry reduce material wastage, save time, money, and efforts.

R&D

Rapid prototyping has become a crucial component used in R&D departments of leading businesses. It helps save time and money for the manufacturers.

Medical and Healthcare

This is one of the most promising sectors for applications of 3D printing. Some of the applications include prototyping for product development to creating actual patient solutions, such as dental crowns, prosthetics, implants, human tissues, and organs, as well as 3D printed surgical instruments.

Architecture

3D architectural models enable businesses to showcase accurate details of projects. Architects also have greater design flexibility when they use 3D CAD models.

Jewellery

Lightweight aerodynamics parts are desirable in the automobile industry. This contributes to making cars more energy efficient. 3D printing in the automotive industry is used both for rapid prototyping services as well as for some end parts creation.

Aerospace/Defence/Navy

This industry was one of the earliest adopters of additive manufacturing. Rapid prototyping has become a critical component in the development of replacement and end parts in this industry.

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