Watch our video on FDM 3D Printing:
Xometry offers Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) which is a 3D printing technology that builds parts out of several types of thermoplastic materials. FDM works by melting a filament of plastic and extruding it on a build platform, zig-zagging back and forth, building the shape of the part layer-by-layer. This process is great for mechanical components which may typically be machined. Material selections include ABS, ASA, Polycarbonate, PLA, PC-ABS, PPSF, and ULTEM.
Here are the basic tolerances:
- +/- 0.004" or +/- 0.002" per inch, whichever is greater. Build area up to 24 x 36 x 36"
- FDM works well for mechanical geometries, larger parts, and parts that may not require ultra-fine features. Very narrow pegs and lips may not resolve due to the bead thickness deposited. We recommend minimum feature size, including text features, to be at least 0.035" (0.045" is safest). FDM prints in 0.010" layers (254 um), 0.013" layers (330 um) on parts over 16" max dimension. PLA uses 0.008" layer height.
One thing to note is that contoured surfaces and slopes built in the Z-direction will have visible "stair-stepping" so if a part is more organic, or has very fine features, you may want to look at other processes such as SLS, HP MJF, Carbon DLS, SLA, and PolyJet.
To learn more about FDM, check out Xometry's FDM Design Guide.