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FDM 3D Printing Technology: Then and Now

August 15, 2022 News

Stratasys – The Leader in 3D Printing for over 30 Years

While the 3D printing industry has drastically changed over the years, one technology firmly holds its position at the top, and it’s a technology we’ve sold and supported for over 25 years. In this article, we’ll look at the origin story of FDM (fused deposition modeling) 3D printing technology and share information about how it got to where it is today.

If you are interested in learning more about FDM or any other 3D printing technology, AdvancedTek is here to help. It’s our mission to help you find the right solutions and partner with you so you can get the most out of it.

The History of FDM 3D Printing

Parents know how hard it can be to see their child devastated about something like a broken toy. Scott Crump wasn’t immune to this feeling, so when his daughter broke her favorite toy frog, he knew he had to save the day.

He went to the garage to find a way to fix the frog. He grabbed a glue gun to experiment with building a rough shape in layers. When it started loosely resembling a frog, he was struck with inspiration.

What if you could automate this layering process? This concept led to Scott connecting the glue gun to a motor & rod to move it back and forth as he pressed the trigger to dispense glue. Once the first layer was deposited, he lifted the rod and repeated the process.

This experiment became the very first rough prototype for what is now known as “fused deposition modeling” or FDM 3D printing. A few short years later, he and his wife had formed a 3D printing company called Stratasys and released their first commercialized product which they called the “3D Modeler”. Fast-forward 30 years and Stratasys is still the industry leader.

 

How FDM Works

The FDM process we know today works by extruding filament through a heated nozzle and depositing it along with pre-determined XYZ movements. These movements, in conjunction with the extrusion of filament, work together to build a part from the bottom up. Stratasys FDM 3D printers also utilize a secondary material known as support material. This temporary material works like scaffolding to support the final part as it is printed. Support material allows printing complex shapes with overhangs and downward facing surfaces by temporarily filling in those gaps. After printing, the support removal can either be removed by hand or using automated support removal systems.

Stratasys has spent decades developing and refining FDM 3D printing to ensure it holds its place as one of the most reliable, versatile, and genuinely industrial 3D printing technologies.

 

Advances in FDM 3D Printing

While the core technology remains the same, the capabilities have expanded well beyond the early days of FDM. These advances have opened the door to a new level of 3D printing. Parts became stronger, printing became faster, and build platforms became larger, in addition to many more improvements. 

Because of its versatility, FDM is often an excellent choice for prototyping, tooling & even low-volume production in nearly every industry. This versatility comes from the ability to print everything from flexible rubber-like materials for consumer goods to FST (flame, smoke & toxicity) approved materials for end-use aerospace parts. Check out this customer story of how an unlikely industry found success with 3D printing.

To highlight the latest in FDM technology from Stratasys, let’s take a look at the F-Series. This series is perfect for in-office use, allowing designers to design and print without leaving their desks. In addition, genuine FDM 3D printers from Stratasys offer an unmatched user experience. They are simple to use, very dependable and come with best-in-class customer support.

Here are some statistics to back up that statement.

F123 Series

  • Stratasys F170

Build Volume | 10 x 10 x 10”
Available Materials | PLA, ABS-M30, ASA, TPU 92A, QSR Support

  • Stratasys F370

Build Volume | 14 x 10 x 14”
Available Materials | PLA, ABS-ESD7, ABS-M30, ASA, Diran, TPU 92A, PC-ABS, ABS-CF10, QSR Support

F123CR Series (Composite Ready)

  • Stratasys F190CR

Build Volume | 12 x 10 x 12”
Available Materials | ABS-M30, ASA, TPU 92A, ABS-CF10, Nylon-CF10, QSR Support

  • Stratasys F390CR

Build Volume | 14 x 10 x 14”
Available Materials | ABS-M30, ASA, TPU 92A, ABS-ESD7, PC-ABS, Diran 410MF07, ABS-CF10, Nylon-CF10, QSR Support, SUP400B Support

Stratasys F770

Build Volume | 39 x 24 x 24”
Available Materials | ABS-M30, ASA

While FDM is an excellent 3D printing technology for most applications, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right solution for you. That’s where AdvancedTek comes in. We offer and support several 3D printing technologies such as Stratasys stereolithography, SAF, PolyJet, and P3, enabling us to start wide and narrow it down to the best fit for your specific needs so you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Our team of experts is here to talk about your current challenges, help you uncover additional opportunities for 3D printing, and recommend the best solutions to help you overcome those challenges.

Once you find the right solution, that’s when the real fun begins. Your partners at AdvancedTek are always available to answer any questions you may have, support you with any technical challenges, and continue to review your workflow and growth plans to help you get the most out of your 3D printer.

Contact AdvancedTek today to meet your partner in 3D printing in the Midwest (serving North & South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, & Wisconsin).

Contact a 3D Printing Expert

Posted by Heather Adams