Rapid Prototyping: FDM
engineering fundamentals Rapid Prototyping: FDM
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Highlights of Fused Deposition Modeling

  • Standard engineering thermoplastics, such as ABS, can be used to produce structurally functional models.
Two build materials can be used, and latticework interiors are an option.
Parts up to 600 × 600 × 500 mm (24 × 24 × 20 inches) can be produced.
Filament of heated thermoplastic polymer is squeezed out like toothpaste from a tube.
Thermoplastic is cooled rapidly since the platform is maintained at a lower temperature.
Milling step not included and layer deposition is sometimes non-uniform so "plane" can become skewed.
Not as prevalent as SLA and SLS®, but gaining ground because of the desirable material properties.

Fused Deposition Modeling

Stratasys of Eden Prairie, MN makes Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) machines. The FDM process was developed by Scott Crump in 1988. The fundamental process involves heating a filament of thermoplastic polymer and squeezing it out like toothpaste from a tube to form the RP layers. The machines range from fast concept modelers to slower, high-precision machines. The materials include polyester, ABS, elastomers, and investment casting wax. The overall arrangement is illustrated below:

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