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Desktop Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

Fused Deposition Modeling technology extrudes a material through a nozzle that is computer controlled with 3 degrees of freedom. The material is extruded in a mostly 2-dimensional shape in the X-Y direction with a small component in the Z-direction to create a "layer". These layers are stacked on top of each other one by one to create a 3-dimensional model.


The concept was developed and patented in the late 1980's. Back then, the computers that were required to generate and execute the motion controls were the most expensive component and limited greater adoption of the technology. Since then, many of the patents around this technology have expired, and the limitations of compute power have all been eliminated with advancements made through the 1990s and early 2000's. This created an environment where startup companies and hobbyists have been adapting the technology to make it cheaper and more accessible.

Desktop FDM refers to smaller and typically more affordable 3D printers that are suitable for use in a home or office setting. i-SOLIDS was founded with humble beginnings using this technology out of a home office, seeing an opportunity to leverage this quickly developing technology and scale it to production level capacity. Development has continued over the past decade and these lower cost machines are capable of generating some amazing results when combined with proper maintenance and expertise.

With over 130+ printers, we are proud to have built one of the largest desktop FDM "print farms" in the nation. This allows us to provide diverse materials options, high capacity, and quick turnaround. Even though we now offer more industrial technologies, desktop FDM can commonly be the most cost effective solution for many prototyping and small to mid volume production applications.

Already have a 3D model and want to get a quote on Desktop FDM services? 


Materials:    ABS, ASA, PETG, PLA, TPU, TPE, PC     <-- Learn More

Standard Dimensional Accuracy:    ± 0.5% with a lower limit of ± 0.5 mm (± 0.020")

Post Processing Options:   Threaded Inserts, Sanding, Painting, Coating, Vapor Smoothing

Design & Production Considerations:

  • Diverse material library with many color options available

  • Requires support material for any geometry greater than 45 degrees to the build surface, which can generate a rougher surface finish relative to unsupported surfaces

  • Typically uses a 0.4mm to 0.8mm sized nozzle - thin walls and very fine details may not render fully

  • Layer heights range from 0.1 to 0.3mm - shallow angles and certain features may yield visible layers and nozzle/tool travel paths.

Ideal Applications:

  • Low to mid volume production (100s to 1,000s+) of small, medium, and large parts

  • Low cost prototyping of initial concept design
  • Relatively simple geometry and/or parts designed with FDM principles (support, thin walls, etc)

Example Gallery:

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