FDM stands for fused deposition modeling. This type of 3D printer works by heating thermoplastic filament and extruding it layer by layer to build an object. The most common materials used in FDM printing are ABS and PLA plastics.
An FDM 3D printer uses a movable extruder head that heats up plastic filament and squeezes it out in thin lines onto a build platform. The extruder head moves horizontally and vertically, depositing lines of melted plastic in the pattern of each layer as defined by the 3D model file. The plastic cools and solidifies shortly after extrusion, fusing to the layer below it.
FDM printers are great for rapid prototyping and creating conceptual models, figures, mechanical parts, and more. Common prints include tools, decor, toys, phone cases, DIY projects, and replacement parts. High-end FDM printers with enhanced precision can also be used for medical devices and industrial applications.
The most widely used FDM printing materials are ABS and PLA plastics. Additional options include nylon, PETG, polycarbonate, flexible TPU, composite filaments, soluble supports, and more.
Print resolution, layer height, extruder and platform temperature, print speed, filament quality, nozzle size, and proper slicer settings all impact the final print quality. Dual extrusion, an enclosed build chamber, and auto-calibration features also help improve consistency, precision, and reliability.
FDM 3D printing with common materials like ABS and PLA is generally considered low-risk when proper ventilation is provided. Potential hazards include hot surfaces, pinch points, and toxic fumes from some plastics. Precautions like keeping the printer in a ventilated area can minimize risks.