Friday, March 24, 2017

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D Printing Technology

When we think of creating prototypes, the first thing which hit our minds is additive manufacturing or 3D printing. 
Though this technology is very old, but it still holds the attention of people because of the impact it has created in engineering, research, and medical industries. Among all the 3D printing methods available in the market, the most popular process is Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). 

FDM- What is this buzz all about?

FDM is known as Fused Deposition Modeling. FDM has become a topic of conversation among manufacturers, designers, engineers, educators and other professionals. FDM which works on production-grade thermoplastics helps to build strong, durable and dimensionally stable parts with the best accuracy.

How FDM works?

FDM printers use a thermoplastic filament, which is heated to its melting point and then extruded, layer by layer, to create a three-dimensional object. FDM follows a defined automated process. It builds parts layer-by-layer from bottom up by heating and extruding thermoplastic filament. The process follows three steps:

1. Pre-processing: This step involves importing design file, picking options and creating slices (layers). Sections are calculated using the pre-processing software. The part design is sliced into many layers. The software then generates tool paths which drives the extrusion of thermoplastic.

2. Production: Two materials one to make the part and other to support it enters the extrusion head. Thermoplastic is heated to a semi-liquid state by 3D printer. It is then deposited in ultra-fine beads along the extrusion path. Removable material is deposited during support which acts as scaffolding.

3. Post-processing: The part is ready to use once the user breaks away support material or dissolve it in detergent and water.

Benefits of FDM

1. Durable parts with high stability: Supported production-grade thermoplastics are mechanically and environmentally stable as they endure exposure to heat, chemicals, humid or dry environments and mechanical stress.

2. Complex geometries and cavities: Such things were difficult to build on traditional manufacturing methods. Now, soluble support materials can produce complex geometries and cavities.

3. Clean, simple and office-friendly technology

4. Fast Lead Times

Applications of FDM

1. Prototypes for form, fit and functional testing:  FDM components can be used to check fitments in assemblies. Sometimes it can be used for performance tests as well as for engineering assignments. Functional prototype allows you to detect the flaws before it becomes a costly affair. It reduces time to market and enhances product performance.

2. Finished goods: Aerospace companies, medical device makers and limited-production automakers can use FDM to produce finished goods as it reduces time and cost and allows you to make design revisions whenever necessary.

3. Manufacturing tools: Use FDM printers for making jigs, fixtures, gauges, patterns, molds and dies instead of spending time on machining, fabrication, molding or casting as they reduce time and cost for manufacturing tools.

Wrapping Up

3D printing technologies and processes will continue to grow as 3D printing industry is very dynamic. It will continue to innovate its hardware as well as materials and processes to create objects or parts. In such scenario, it’s very important to choose the right technology based on budget, design or function.

Engineering Technique is a professional 3D printing service provider in India. We use various technologies like FDM, DLP, SLA, SLS, Polyjet and Vacuum Casting. Request a free quote, if you are interested in our 3D printing services.