What is FDM Printing?

Frequently Asked Questions

Home | Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Frequently Asked Questions
What is FDM or Fused Deposition Modeling?

Also known by its abbreviated term FDM, fused deposition modelling is where the part is built by selectively depositing melted material in a pre-determined path layer-by-layer. The materials used are thermoplastic polymers and come in a filament form.


FDM Technology builds parts layer-by-layer from the bottom up by heating and extruding thermoplastic filament. The 3D printer heats the thermoplastic to a semi-liquid state and deposits it in ultra-fine beads along the extrusion path. Where support or buffering is needed, the 3D printer deposits a removable material that acts as scaffolding.


Complex geometries and cavities that would otherwise be problematic become practical with FDM 3D printing technology, using the same tried and tested thermoplastics found in traditional manufacturing processes. For applications that demand tight tolerances, toughness and environmental stability, or specialized properties like electrostatic dissipation, translucence, biocompatibility, VO flammability or FST ratings, there’s an FDM thermoplastic that can deliver.


Materials available include ABS, Nylon, PC ABS, PPSF/PPSU, ULTEM1010, ABSi, ABS-M30i, ASA, Ultem9085.

What materials can you use with FDM?

FDM materials offer specialised properties like toughness, electrostatic dissipation, translucence, biocompatibility, UV Resistance, VO flammability and FST ratings. This makes them perfect for demanding designers and engineers in aerospace, automotive, medical and other industries.


Materials available include ULTEM1010, ABSi, ABS-M30i, ASA, Ultem9085.



The original additive manufacturing process is stereolithography and Malcolm Nicholls Ltd was one of the first service providers to offer Stereolithography (SLA) back in 1999. Rapid Prototyping has always been the original “buzz word” for SLA and over the years SLS and FDM have fallen under the same umbrella of Rapid Prototyping.


Since the introduction of SLA, new processes and technology have entered the marketplace, including selective laser sintering (SLS) and FDM fused deposition modelling.

As technology continually advances, additive manufacturing is finding its way into more applications in engineering and manufacturing – a continually evolving process that’s become critical in new product development for many businesses.


3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping are two very similar terms so they can be easily confused. A lot of industry leaders will agree to disagree between the terms as they are so closely linked!


It minimises risk, as your product will be sent to us via CAD and will be meticulously checked to make sure we don’t encounter costly errors, it’s produced the very best quality and from an early stage, we can discuss any design faults.


Here at MNL, we can produce either small scale models or large scale on one of the largest SLA machines in the UK the Neo 800 read more on the Neo 800

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