FDM 3D Printing

Overview: How FDM 3D printing works?

The Basics Of FDM 3D Printing

In FDM, a spool of filament is loaded into the printer and then fed to the extrusion head, which is equipped with a heated nozzle. Once the nozzle reaches the desired temperature, a motor drives the filament through it, melting it.

The printer moves the extrusion head, laying down melted material at precise locations, where it cools and solidifies (like a very precise hot-glue gun). When a layer is finished, the build platform moves down and the process repeats until the part is complete.

After printing, the part is usually ready to use but it might require some post-processing, such as removal of the support structures or surface smoothing.

Benefits Of FDM 3D Printing

Fused deposition modeling can build fully functional parts in standard plastics. However, they have anisotropy in the z-direction (vertical direction) and a step-structure on the surface.

Fused deposition modeling works with standard materials, for instance, ABS/PA/PC. Therefore, parts have good mechanical properties and are durable over time. Parts can be post-processed as any plastic part produced with conventional manufacturing.

Benefits Of FDM 3D Printing With FacFox

At FacFox, we have 2 levels of FDM printers: Lab-level and Industrial-level.

Lab-level FDM 3D printer is suitable for experimental projects that don’t require high accuracy/great mechanical properties or highly detailed surfaces, we can print PLA material at the largest volume of 1200 x 1200 x 1500mm.

Our Industrial-level FDM 3D printers, on the other hand, allow you to make 3D printed parts and prototypes in a wide range of high-performance engineering materials like ABS, PA, PC, ULTEM. We use the state-of-the-art 3M3D BIG FACTORY printer with a max build volume of  1800 x 1600 x 1100mm.

Prototypes made using this service can be used for engineering testing or even actual end-use products. You can also have metal 3D printed parts made using our DMLS 3D printing service.

Features of FDM 3D Printing


Material SelectionFDM printers supports almost all mainframe thermoplastics and even some reinforced compound materials like PA-CF.AccuracyWe use the most advanced industrial FDM 3D printers with tolerances of +/- 0.004” or +/- 0.002” per inch, whichever is greater.GeometryWith dissolvable supports(industrial-level only), interlocking and complex structures are easy to be achieved.Strength & DurabilityHigh-performance plastics like PA/PC/ULTEM are ideal for applications that require resistance of certain aspects.TurnaroundFDM parts do not require tooling which reduces the manufacturing lead time from weeks to days, allowing for faster innovation and speed to market.End ProductionFDM is capable of producing end-use parts on-demand to boost your marketing by customization.


Surface QualityExtruding material layer-by-layer,the surface has layer lines and fine details cannot be realizedLayer AdhesionParts have an anisotropy in the z-direction (vertical direction), and properties are weaker than base materials.Scale EffectThe unit cost and lead time will not be reduced as much as casted or molded parts.

FDM 3D Printing Processes

Printers & Parameters

– Printers: 3M3D’s BIG FACTORY, MINI FACTORY and INFIN8 series FDM printers.

– Maximal build volume: 1800 x 1600 x 1100 mm (BIG FACTORY)

– Minimum feature size: 0.2 mm


– Minimum layer thickness: 0.1 mm

– Typical surface finish: 50 – 100 microns RA

– Accuracy: (+/- 0.1-0.2% for industrial-level)

Pre-build planning

Important decision on design is the orientation and support structures. This depends on:

– Geometry: Optimize it to reduce supports and layer lines.

– Areas that need great smoothness or post-processing

Available Materials

  • Plastics
  • Rubber

FDM 3D Printing Applications

PrototypesFDM is ideal for producing form / fit and functional prototypes for testing in standard materials like PLA/ABS.

End PartsThe heat tolerance and great mechanical properties of industrial FDM materials let end parts like jigs, fixtures, brackets be produced directly.

Customized ProductsFDM can be applied to make small batched products with varied requirments, ideal for small businesses that wishes to test the market’s reaction to thier newly developed products.