Frequently Asked Questions
FDM 3D Printing FAQs
What is FDM 3D Printing?
FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modeling which is one of many different additive manufacturing (a.k.a. 3D Printing) processes. An FDM machine works sort of like a CNC machine, but picture a hot-melt glue gun instead of an end mill. In other words, it dispenses melted material, which immediately hardens (or “cures”) upon contact with the build tray. The FDM builds parts in layers, starting with the base layer and adding material until the part is complete.
What can an FDM model be used for?
FDM models are great for engineering testing and checking the functionality of your part. The material used in an FDM machine can match that of your final product, i.e., ABS, polycarbonate, and nylon. For a more "polished" looking prototype to be used for sales presentations and the like, an SLA would be better.
What are your size constraints for FDM models?
The size of the build platform on our FDM machine is 14"x 16"x 16", but if your part is larger than that, we can print it in pieces and assemble it all together using proven techniques. We also work with partner printing providers who have larger platforms.
How do you determine the price of an FDM model?
The most important factors in determining price are the volume of the part (how much material is needed) and build time (how long it will take the printer to build the part). Part structure can effect both and can be minimized or strengthened depending on your needs.
Do I need a CAD file to order an FDM model?
Yes. The FDM uses a CAD-generated STL file to determine the data for each layer of the model. Broadview can convert files from most any CAD platform free of charge. If needed, our engineers can repair your file or turn your 2D sketch into a full 3D CAD model (for an additional fee).
What materials can you print using FDM?
Our FDM machine can print parts in ABS M30, ABSi, ABS M30i, ABS ESD7, ASA, polycarbonate, PC-ABS, PC-ISO, PPSF, Nylon 12, and ULTEM 9085. Each material serves a different purpose. For material specifications, please click on the material name. If you need help deciding which will work best for your project, please get in touch and we'll be happy to help!
What colors can you print using FDM?
Our standard colors are black for ABS M30 and Nylon 12, or white for Polycarbonate. We can source different colors in ABS, but it would likely increase your lead time by a few days–options are: natural, white, dark grey, red, and blue.
What tolerances can your FDM print to?
Accuracy can sometimes depend on your part's geometry, but usually we can meet an accuracy of +/- .005 inches or +/- .0015 inch per inch, whichever is greater.
What finishing options are available for an FDM?
All FDMs are finished the same way. We simply remove any support materials and pack it up for shipping. If you need a nice surface finish, you might consider ordering an SLA part.
What do you mean by “support material”?
When you are 3D printing a part, the liquid material always needs to land on some sort of surface–it is not possible for the material to be suspended in mid-air (not yet anyway). The FDM builds a support structure in those empty spaces using a different material which gets dissolved in a solution after the part comes off the machine.
What is your typical lead time for an FDM model?
As a rapid prototyping shop, our goal is to have your part ready in less than 3 business days. If you need it in less than 3 business days, we can usually accommodate you. We will always specify a delivery date when we quote your project, and inform you immediately if we run into issues.