FDM 3D Printing Everything You Need to Know

FDM 3D Printing 3D Printing Everything You Need to Know About Snapmaker by 3DJake

Explore the world of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) in 3D printing: technology insights, pros and cons, comparisons, and advanced materials.

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In the dynamic and ever-evolving world of 3D printing, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) stands out as a prominent and widely used technology. This blog post will delve into the intricacies of FDM, including its pros and cons, comparisons with other 3D printing technologies, and an exploration of related technologies such as MEX (Material Extrusion) and FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication).

Understanding FDM Technology

What is FDM?

FDM, a technology trademarked by Stratasys, operates on a simple yet effective principle. It involves the melting and extrusion of a thermoplastic filament, which is deposited layer by layer to create a 3D object.

The Process of FDM

  1. Design Stage: It starts with a 3D model, usually created in CAD software.
  2. Preparation: The model is then processed by slicing software, which divides it into layers.
  3. Printing: The printer heats the filament, extrudes it through a nozzle, and deposits it layer by layer to build the object.
Stratasys F3300
Stratasys F3300

Pros and Cons of FDM


  1. Material Variety: Offers a wide range of materials, from standard plastics like PLA and ABS to advanced composites.
  2. Accessibility: FDM printers are relatively inexpensive and user-friendly, making them ideal for beginners and hobbyists.
  3. Versatility: Suitable for a variety of applications, from prototyping to manufacturing parts.


  1. Surface Finish: FDM prints often exhibit visible layer lines, leading to a rough surface texture.
  2. Structural Weakness: The layer-by-layer process can result in weaker bonds between layers.
  3. Limited Resolution: FDM struggles with intricate details compared to other technologies like SLA or SLS.

FDM vs. Other 3D Printing Technologies

Comparison with SLA and SLS

MEX and FFF: Related Technologies

Material Extrusion (MEX)

MEX is a broader category that encompasses FDM. It involves extruding material through a nozzle or orifice, but it’s not limited to thermoplastic filaments.

FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication)

FFF is essentially another term for FDM. It’s a more general term used to describe the same technology, avoiding the trademarked term FDM.

Advanced Materials in FDM

Stratasys, a leading player in FDM technology, offers a range of advanced materials. These include:

  • High-Performance Thermoplastics: For applications requiring high strength or temperature resistance.
  • Flexible Materials: Such as TPU, offering different levels of flexibility and durability.
  • Composite Materials: Combining plastics with additives like carbon fiber for enhanced properties.


FDM is a versatile and accessible technology in the world of 3D printing. While it has its limitations in terms of surface finish and structural integrity, its advantages in material diversity, cost-effectiveness, and ease of use make it a popular choice for many applications.


What is FDM in 3D printing? FDM is a 3D printing process that builds parts layer by layer from a heated, extruded thermoplastic filament.

How does FDM compare to SLA? FDM is generally more cost-effective with a wider range of materials, while SLA offers higher resolution and smoother finishes.

Can FDM printers use composite materials? Yes, certain FDM printers can use composite materials, often combining plastic with additives like carbon fiber.

Is FDM suitable for industrial applications? FDM is suitable for some industrial applications, especially for functional prototypes and manufacturing aids.

What are the limitations of FDM? FDM is limited by its lower resolution, visible layer lines, and potential weakness in layer adhesion.

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