FDM 3D Printing: A Guide to Materials, Geometries, and Post-Processing

FDM (or fused deposition modeling) is often the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about 3D printing. While it’s commonly associated with creating basic parts and prototypes, FDM 3D printing is actually a versatile method suitable for a variety of applications, including automotive and aerospace. The key to unlocking its full potential lies in selecting the right materials and employing effective post-processing techniques.

Understanding materials for FDM 3D printing

FDM 3D printing typically utilizes standard resins like monochrome or dichromatic PLA and ABS. For applications demanding higher performance, there are specialized materials available, such as PC (rigid resin), ASA (anti-UV), and TPU (toughness resin 95A). These materials are chosen for their ability to withstand harsh conditions and excel in demanding environments.

FDM 3D printing capabilities in shapes and sizes

One of the strengths of FDM 3D printing is its capacity to produce parts of various sizes, including large dimensions up to 24” x 36” x 36”. It can also handle geometries that might be too complex or costly for CNC machining. This flexibility allows fused deposition modeling to create intricate parts more cost-effectively and with quicker turnaround times.

Enhancing FDM 3D-printed parts with post-processing

Post-processing is crucial in transforming FDM 3D-printed parts from rough prototypes into polished, functional products. This step not only improves aesthetics but also ensures compliance with industry standards and enhances mechanical properties. A common post-processing method for FDM 3D printing is sanding, which uses fine-grit sandpaper to achieve a smoother surface and reduce visible layer lines. Furthermore, some companies offer painting services to enhance the visual appeal of FDM 3D-printed parts.

Designing for FDM 3D printing

With the right approach, FDM 3D printing can be an excellent choice for various applications, offering versatility in materials, geometries, and finishing options.

If you’re considering FDM 3D printing for your project, consult with our experts here at HLH Proto. We can provide insights into designing for this process and offer a quote, helping you make informed decisions for your project. 


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