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Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

There are several different methods of 3D Printing, but the most widely used is a process known as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). FDM printers use a thermoplastic filament heated to its melting point and then extruded, layer by layer, to create a three-dimensional object. 

How Fused Deposition Modeling 3D Printing Works

Here is how the FDM fabrication process works:

I. A spool of thermoplastic filament is first loaded into the printer. Once the nozzle has reached the desired temperature, the filament is fed to the extrusion head and in the nozzle where it melts.

II. The extrusion head is attached to a 3-axis system that allows it to move in the X, Y, and Z directions. The melted material is extruded in thin strands and is deposited layer-by-layer in predetermined locations, where it cools and solidifies. Sometimes the cooling of the material is accelerated through cooling fans attached to the extrusion head.

III. To fill an area, multiple passes are required (similar to coloring a rectangle with a marker). When a layer is finished, the build platform moves down (or in other machine setups, the extrusion head moves up), and a new layer is deposited. This process is repeated until the part is complete.

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Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

Why Use FDM?

FDM is the most cost-effective way of producing custom thermoplastic parts and prototypes.
The lead times of FDM are short (as fast as next-day delivery) due to the high availability of the technology.
A wide range of thermoplastic materials is available, suitable for both prototyping and some non-commercial functional applications.

Why Make your 3D Priting at Unionfab?

  • Endless Options Choose from millions of possible combinations of materials, finishes, tolerances, markings, and certifications for your order.
  • Easy to Use Get your parts delivered right to your door without the hassle of sourcing, project management, logistics, or shipping.
  • Vetted Network We are ISO 9001:2015 certified and AS9100D compliant. Only the top shops that apply to become Suppliers make it through our qualification process.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Material Options

WOOD FILLED PLA

WOOD FILLED PLA

Features:

[Print Size]

[Features]
The number one reason for using wood filaments is the superior aesthetics that they can deliver, especially compared to standard plastic filaments. Prints made from wood filaments have a finish that comes very close to the naturally grainy look of natural wood. The layer lines that generally appear in 3D images can be sanded lightly and will blend very well with the overall grainy aesthetic you may be trying to achieve. All in all, wood filaments give you prints with a wood finish without going through all the complexity and having all the skills (not to mention the number of tools) needed for old-fashioned woodworking.

[Print Effect]
Standard: Support structures are removed and some light sanding is performed at the support locations. FDM parts will generally show clear layer lines known as stepping. If a smooth surface finish is required right off the machine, then they should consider other 3D printing technologies.
Custom: Custom surface finishes like painting and additional sanding can be requested.

Color:
NATURAL BROWN
Introduction:

Wood Filled PLA filaments are typically composite and combine a base material with wood dust, cork, and other powdered wood derivatives. The filament consists of around 30% wood particles, but the exact number may vary depending on the brand. The presence of these particles gives the 3D printed parts the aesthetics of natural wood. This filament is also less abrasive than other composite filaments such as carbon-fibre filled and metal filled since wood particles are much softer. Some wood-like filaments on the market only contain wood colouring but no actual wood particles, so these typically have a very different look and feel. This guide will focus on wood infused PLA filaments since these are the most common, but you can also use these tips as a starting point for other wood-based filaments.

ULTEM

ULTEM

Features:

[Print Size]
406x355x406 MM

[Features]
ULTEM is easy to thermoform and can be manufactured using fused deposition modeling (FDM). A heated nozzle repeatedly follows a set toolpath and emits one layer of the material at a time until the product is fully formed. Injection modeling is another quick and cost-effective option for manufacturing with ULTEM. Thermoplastic pellets are fed into the injection molding screw, melted and injected into the mold, cooled and hardened, and then the completed part is pushed out via the ejector pin. This process is ideal for producing uniform parts in high quantities, such as burn-in sockets.

[Print Effect]
Standard: Support structures are removed and some light sanding is performed at the support locations. FDM parts will generally show clear layer lines known as stepping. If a smooth surface finish is required right off the machine, then they should consider other 3D printing technologies.
Custom: Custom surface finishes like painting and additional sanding can be requested.

Color:
LIGHT BROWN
Introduction:

Ultem is High-performance plastic polymers that fall into two categories: thermosets and thermoplastics. Thermosetting polymers are those that solidify to an irreversible hardness after curing due to chemical bonds within the plastic. The polymer hardens in a cross-linked pattern that prevents it from re-melting, even under extreme heat.

ULTEM, the branded name for polyetherimide (PEI), is one of the few commercially available amorphous thermoplastic resins that retains its mechanical integrity at high temperatures.

PLA

PLA

Features:

[Print Size]
800x800x500 MM

[Features]
PLA is the most popular 3D printer plastic for FDM technology and can be easily sanded, painted or post-processed in a different fashion. This plastic enables working on relatively low extruder temperatures and appears to be “user-friendly”. Compared to some other filaments, there is no crucial need for a heated bed, reinforced nozzle or printer chamber to work with it. With great details transfer and attractive surface finish, it serves many generic applications of 3d Printing.

PLA filament behaves much better than tougher plastics and usually doesn’t have a bad smell or fumes. The storage of such a material is comparatively low-key as well. On top of all that, polylactic acid is produced in a big variety of colors and used as a base material for many composites with over-the-top properties.

[Print Effect]
Standard: Support structures are removed and some light sanding is performed at the support locations. FDM parts will generally show clear layer lines known as stepping. If a smooth surface finish is required right off the machine, then they should consider other 3D printing technologies.
Custom: Custom surface finishes like painting and additional sanding can be requested.

Color:
BLACK, BLUE, GOLD, GREEN , RED , WHITE , YELLOW
Introduction:

PLA is one of the most popular materials used in 3D printing. It is the default filament of choice for most extrusion-based 3D printers because it can be printed at a low temperature and does not require a heated bed. PLA is a great first material to use as you are learning about 3D printing because it is easy to print, very inexpensive, and creates parts that can be used for a wide variety of applications. It is also one of the most environmentally friendly filaments on the market today. Derived from crops such as corn and sugarcane, PLA is renewable and most importantly biodegradable. As a bonus, this also allows the plastic to give off a sweet aroma during printing.

PETG

PETG

Features:

[Print Size]
800x800x500 MM

[Features]
PETG has applications in various industries due to being resistant to heat, impact and solvents. It is widely used for packaging (both retail and medical), advertising displays and electronic insulators.

It is also widely used in 3D printing since glycol prevents the problems associated with PET, such as overheating and becoming cloudy and fragile. It is also possible to sterilise PETG items. With good adhesion between layers, minimal deformation during printing, good resistance in low-temperature environments, chemical resistance against bases and acids, and an absence of odour while printing, PETG is becoming the favoured material for 3D printing.

Polyethene terephthalate glycol is ideal for producing flexible parts with good resistance to shocks, such as pressure-clad items, protective factors or food containers.

[Print Effect]
Standard: Support structures are removed and some light sanding is performed at the support locations. FDM parts will generally show clear layer lines known as stepping. If a smooth surface finish is required right off the machine, then they should consider other 3D printing technologies.
Custom: Custom surface finishes like painting and additional sanding can be requested.

Color:
Black & White
Introduction:

PETG is a strong and durable plastic-like ABS but harmless to human health. PETG is made with one of the most common synthetic materials - polyethene Terephthalate (PET), modified with Glycol. Thanks to this, PETG is much more rigid, stiffer, more precise and easier to use in 3D printing and machining than PET. Also, the modified plastic does not crystallise and becomes breakable. PETG can be used instead of polycarbonate (PC) for CNC machining as it can form a transparent plastic material with almost the same impact strength as PC but is much more cost-effective. PETG can also be used for hotline bending and welding.

ASA

ASA

Features:

[Print Size]
406x355x406 MM

[Features]
ASA filament is used instead of ABS for mechanical parts that need durability. But there is a difference between ABS and ASA in properties, price point and work each material requires from you. In recent times ASA became more affordable and improvements in desktop FDM printers allow to work with it well. It still requires a well-leveled bed, good heating capabilities, correct cooling process, and adhesion improvements.

The end prints made with ASA are sturdy and stiff like ABS but on top of that, they would withstand weather and sun much better. Some people also notice that ASA may be more tactile pleasant than ABS.

[Print Effect]
Standard: Support structures are removed and some light sanding is performed at the support locations. FDM parts will generally show clear layer lines known as stepping. If a smooth surface finish is required right off the machine, then they should consider other 3D printing technologies.
Custom: Custom surface finishes like painting and additional sanding can be requested.

Color:
NATURAL & WHITE
Introduction:

ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate) is a synthetic, amorphous thermoplastic that works best in material extrusion printing. It is a high impact material that can be used to produce functional parts for automotive applications, electronics, tooling, and more. In addition, it is known for having high weather and UV resistance, making it a great candidate for outdoor applications.

ABS

ABS

Features:

[Print Size]
800x800x500 MM

[Features]
Its glass transition temperature is approximately 105 °C. ABS is amorphous and therefore has no actual melting point. ABS is a terpolymer made by polymerizing styrene and acrylonitrile in the presence of polybutadiene.

ABS plastic properties contribute mainly to its popularity across several industry sectors. As a result, you can find products made from ABS worldwide in multiple domestic, commercial, and specialist settings, from computer keyboard keys to LEGO.
When the three monomers are combined, the acrylonitrile develops a polar attraction with the other two components, resulting in a challenging and durable product. The different amounts so f each monomer can be added to the process to vary the finished product further.

[Print Effect]
Standard: Support structures are removed and some light sanding is performed at the support locations. FDM parts will generally show clear layer lines known as stepping. If a smooth surface finish is required right off the machine, then they should consider other 3D printing technologies.
Custom: Custom surface finishes like painting and additional sanding can be requested.

Color:
Black White
Introduction:

ABS is a common thermoplastic polymer used for Fused Deposition Modeling and Injection molding applications. This engineering plastic is popular due to its low production cost and how plastic manufacturers machine the material.

Compare our 3D Printing Services

Service Lead Times Materials Tolerances Max Part Size
SLA 1 – 3 days Resin / Somos +/- 0.003 in. 800 x 800 x 550 mm
SLS 2 – 5 days PA12/ PA12GB +/- 0.002 in. 350 x 350 x 400 mm
MJF 2 – 5 days PA12/ PA12GB +/- 0.002 in. 380 x 280 x 380 mm
FDM 2 – 5 days PLA / ABS  +/- 0.003 in. 500 x 500 x 400 mm
Poly Jet 2 – 5 days Resin +/- 0.003 in. 490 x 390 x 200 mm