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FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) – Process using molten plastics
or wax extruded by a nozzle that traces the parts cross sectional geometry
layer by layer. FDM creates tough parts that are ideal for functional usage.
The FDM rapid prototyping process is akin to using a hot glue gun to make parts. An
FDM machine consists of the following parts a build platform, filament feed devices,
heated extrusion nozzles and a nozzle control apparatus. The whole system is contained
within a heated environment to reduce the amount of energy needed to melt the filament
at the nozzle. The FDM process feeds filaments of build material and support material
to heated nozzles. These nozzles are used to lay down molten filaments of build and
support materials in the desired cross sectional geometries. Once the first cross
section is completed the build platform is lowered one layer thickness and the next
cross section is printed. This process is continued until the part is completed. Once
complete, the part can be taken out and any support structures can be removed.
The main advantage to using FDM is the very durable parts that can be made using waxes and
various engineering plastics. The drawback to using the FDM method is that the parts generally
take much longer to build and the layering is clearly visible because of the extrusion type process.
The materials available for use in the FDM process include ABS, polycarbonate, polyphenylsulfone
and a polycarbonate/ABS blend. In addition, these materials are available in several standard colors.