FAQs of FDM 3D Printing

What are the advantages of FDM 3D printing?

FDM is more cost effective than any additive manufacturing technology and can use a wide range of thermoplastic materials. Manufacturing with FDM also means shorter lead times.

What are the disadvantages of FDM 3D printing?

While FDM is very cost effective, it also has the lowest resolution compared to other 3D printing technologies. For parts with very little detail, this makes it a less viable option.

Does FDM require post-processing?

Parts printed with FDM may have visible layer lines, so post-processing is required to give the part a smooth finish. 

Post-Processing for FDM 3D Printing

FDM 3D printed parts can be brought to a relatively high standard through a variety of post-processing methods, including sanding and polishing, priming and painting, cold welding, vapor smoothing, epoxy coating, and metal plating. 

How accurate is FDM?

Typically, part accuracy depends on how you calibrate the FDM printer and the complexity of the model. Industrial FDM printers produce parts more accurately than desktop machines, but desktop home 3D printer technology is quickly catching up.

How expensive is FDM?

FDM is the most cost effective way to produce custom thermoplastic parts and prototypes on the market today. Desktop FDM is definitely the most cost effective option, producing parts that may be of lower quality than their industrial counterparts.

What materials can be used for FDM?

FDM is available in a variety of materials, including PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG and PEI.

How fast is FDM?

Producing custom parts with FDM is relatively quick, with lead times often as short as a few days. 

What is FDM primarily used for?

FDM technology tends to be best suited for prototyping, modeling, and low-volume manufacturing applications. Industrial-scale FDM can be used for functional prototypes and end-use parts, as well as other applications.

Why is FDM the most popular 3D printing technology today?

FDM printers use durable materials to produce high-quality parts that maintain good mechanical properties. Both types of FDM machines offer high dimensional accuracy. Even at the industrial level, FDM tends to be more cost effective than other AM processes.