3D Printing with Thermoplastics


If your part requires strength, rigidity or high temperature tolerance, then thermoplastics are a great option to fabricate your production component or prototype. Using 3D printing, engineers can make parts with the most commonly used thermoplastics, such as ABS, polycarbonate, a variety of blends, as well as thermoplastics engineered for aerospace, medical, automotive and other specialty applications. There is additive technology that utilize thermoplastics: FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling).

FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)

FDM offers a wider variety of polymers, from ABS to polyphenylsulfone (PPSF), in order to provide engineering-grade materials in a 3D printing process. FDM thermoplastics offer special qualities, such as electrostatic dissipation, translucence, biocompatibility, VO flammability and FST ratings. These robust materials make FDM a viable option for functional prototyping and production parts in aerospace, automotive and medical industries.

FDM builds by extruding molten thermoplastic layer by layer until a part is produced. Since FDM adds small amounts of molten material in a heated environment, warp and the deformation of vertical walls is best avoided by adding ribs to thin-walled sections of a part, similar to injection molding.

FDM materials differ from injection-molded thermoplastics since they are non-isotropic due to the build style of the technology at certain orientations. FDM can also affect a part’s elastic modulus, elongation at break and flexural strength. With careful design considerations, these differences may not be significant for some applications.

Each FDM material is dimensionally stable and durable enough for demanding applications. The easiest way to identify the right FDM thermoplastic would be to consider the part’s characteristics, support material type and color. Similar to conventional thermoplastics, finishing FDM parts depends on the chosen material. Some FDM thermoplastics have soluble supports and offer up to ten color choices.


Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)