Material Extrusion 3D Printing (also known as Fused Filament Fabrication or Fused Deposition Modeling) is a 3D printing technology which is used to process thermoplastic materials in filament form to create three dimensional objects. The filament is fed from a large coil, through a moving, heated print head (extruder) and is molten and forced out of the nozzle. It is then deposited on the growing workpiece and with the computer controlled movements of the nozzle the object is created layer by layer.
What are the advantages of Material Extrusion 3D Printing?
Material Extrusion creates new possibilities for part designs and enables the engineers to realise their designs which have closed cavities, undercuts and many other geometries which are impossible to produce by using conventional manufacturing technologies. Parts with various sizes and shapes, which require many tool changes and stresses so far, can be produced in one piece without further interventions with Material Extrusion. Due to almost zero production based material waste, material extrusion is suitable for more costly materials.
What limitations do I have to consider when designing my parts?
Since Material Extrusion proceeds by depositing molten form of the material in a layer by layer fashion; thus allowing for the freedom to create more complex geometries than any other manufacturing method, there exist some inherent process limitations. With the usage of Material Extrusion, geometries such as steep overhangs and bridges might be difficult to produce. Apium P Series 3D Printers can achieve overhangs up to approx. 45°, depending on the particular geometry of the desired part. For more acute overhang angles and brodges you can print with support material beneath the part, resulting in post treatments which give rise to minimal surface traces.