Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is an additive manufacturing process and a type of 3D printing technology that builds a three-dimensional (3D) object, layer by layer, from the bottom up. This 3D printing method is a lot like chocolate piping to make or decorate chocolate pieces. During chocolate piping, chocolate is melted, inserted in a piping container such as a piping bag, and then pushed out through the piping nozzle. The pastry chef or chocolate maker follows a path to create a design. To build up the height of this design, another layer of chocolate is added along the same path. This layering process is repeated until a 3D chocolate decoration is made.
With the FDM method, the bag of chocolate is replaced by a reel of material called a filament, which is then heated in the FDM nozzle. This softens the filament. The nozzle then runs the softened filament along a path to build a design by layers that are around the same thickness of a human hair. This layering process is repeated until a full 3D object is made.
Some 3D printed models come with ‘supports’. These are thin, break-away pieces of plastic that support 3D printed models with overhanging parts. These might cause the model to sag, so ‘supports’ are printed beneath the overhanging parts and hold up the model while it’s printed. Once ‘supports’ are removed, the 3D object is then ready.
FDM is currently the most popular 3D printing method, as the technology is easy-to- use, office and home friendly and clean!