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Types of FDM 3D Printing You Should Know About

by Nice Rapid | Aug 03,2022 | FDM 3D Printing

Did you know that most of the 3D printers that you know are FDM? Fused deposition modeling or FDM 3D printing is the most commonly used technique of this kind. It is an additive manufacturing technique where the layers of extruded materials are fused, following a pattern to create a part.

Although this technology is not new, many people are still not familiar with it. Thus, we have created this article to explain what FDM 3D printing is and the types of printers under this category that you should know about it.

What is FDM 3D Printing?

In fused deposition modeling, the material in a liquified state is extruded out of the nozzle in a pattern on top or next to the previously extruded material, to make the part layer by layer. Simply put, a common FDM 3D printer uses a plastic filament, squeezes it out of its hot end, and builds up the model through layers that are fused to eventually form into a finished part.

The abbreviation FDM is the same as fused filament fabrication. It was known by this previous name until Stratasys trademarked the name FDM and fused deposition modeling in 1991.

Many materials can be used with this manufacturing technique. Aside from the thermoplastic, pastes, chocolates, and exotic materials metal and wood-encrusted thermoplastics are compatible with FDM 3D printers.

What makes FDM 3D printers popular with most manufacturers is their simplicity, efficiency, and low manufacturing costs. It is the most dominant 3D printing method that practically blew its expensive counterparts out of the water.

FDM 3D printing product

Types of FDM 3D Printers

There are four types of FDM 3D printers and the choice depends on your needs. They fulfill different niches and have their advantages and disadvantages. Let us take a look at each type.

Cartesian 3D Printers

This is the most common FDM 3D printer and was the first printer to come out over a decade ago. It works on the same mathematical pattern: X, Y, and Z. Here the print head moves on the X and Y axes while the bed moves up and down on the Z-axis.

Cartesian printers are considered more accurate and can provide quality prints. 

Delta FDM 3D Printers

It does not enjoy the same popularity as Cartesian 3D printers but they are becoming more visible since the technology is becoming cheaper and more accessible. In Delta 3D printers, the print head is circular with an extruder with three triangular points. These points can move up and down within the cylindrical print structure to place the print head where it needs to be and form the structure.

Delta printers are faster than Cartesian printers but the print quality is not as good. When choosing between Cartesian and Delta printers, you need to sort out your priorities. Is it speed or print quality and consistency? The choice is up to you.

Polar 3D Printers

The third type of FDM 3D printer is the polar 3D printer and it does not bore any resemblance to Cartesian or Delta. The printer got its name from the polar coordinate system it operates from. In this setup, every other point on the print head is determined by its position relative to the middle point on the print bed. It may be difficult to comprehend but that is how sophisticated this technology is.

Because of how it works, the polar 3D printer has circular print heads that rotate and moves up and down to create an object.

Robotic Arm 3D Printer

The last type we have is the robotic arm 3D printer. As the name suggests, it has huge mechanical arms in its setup and is used in big manufacturing plants. They are used to build 3D printed houses and other huge industrial projects. Since it has robotic arms it offers great flexibility during printing, making it easy to print complex parts and works like human hands.

There you have it, the major types of FDM 3D printers. We hope this guide sheds some light on your options for your 3D printing needs.

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