Fused filament fabrication

Fused filament fabrication (FFF), also known as fused deposition modeling (with the trademarked acronym FDM), or called filament freeform fabrication, is a 3D printing process that uses a continuous filament of a thermoplastic material.[1] Filament is fed from a large spool through a moving, heated printer extruder head, and is deposited on the growing work. The print head is moved under computer control to define the printed shape. Usually the head moves in two dimensions to deposit one horizontal plane, or layer, at a time; the work or the print head is then moved vertically by a small amount to begin a new layer. The speed of the extruder head may also be controlled to stop and start deposition and form an interrupted plane without stringing or dribbling between sections. "Fused filament fabrication" was coined by the members of the RepRap project to give an acronym (FFF) that would be legally unconstrained in its use.[2]

Prusa I3, a simple fused filament printer

Fused filament printing is now the most popular process (by number of machines) for hobbyist-grade 3D printing.[3] Other techniques such as photopolymerisation and powder sintering may offer better results, but they are much more costly.

Illustration of a direct drive extruder which shows the name of parts.

The 3D printer head or 3D printer extruder is a part in material extrusion additive manufacturing responsible for raw material melting or softening and forming it into a continuous profile. A wide variety of filament materials are extruded, including thermoplastics such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS),[4] polylactic acid (PLA), polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG), polyethylene terephtathalate (PET), high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and aliphatic polyamides (nylon).[5]


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