What is FDM 3D Printing?

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Updated February 3, 2023

If you are new to the world of physical printing, you may wonder what is FDM 3D printing. 3D printers are some of the best printers you can buy. FDM printing, or fused deposition modeling, is a popular sub-type that uses spools of filament to build objects by depositing layers onto a build platform. So how do the best 3D printers work, what exactly is FDM printing, and what are some advantages to this printing method? Keep reading to find out.


  • FDM stands for fused deposition modeling, and this type of 3D printing technology is extremely popular across multiple industries.
  • FDM printers use standard spools of thermoplastic filament and related thermoplastic materials to create 3D models layer by layer, similar to FFF printers.
  • These printers are known to be budget-friendly, easy to use, and excellent for creating complex geometries, thanks to the use of plastic filament during the 3D printing process.

Before learning all about FDM printing, it is helpful to learn what 3D printers are used for and how they work. These printers work by heating up building materials and extruding them via a nozzle if you are learning what an extruder does in a 3D printer. There are many types of 3D printers out there if you are learning what FFF 3D printing is. Some modern printers even handle some truly unique tasks if you are wondering what an FEP film 3D printer is.

Insider Tip

Filament spools are available in a wide range of colors, designs, and gradients, with some even having metallic dust as a primary component.

What is FDM Printing?

FDM stands for fused deposition modeling, and this is one of the more popular types of 3D printing technologies out there, as it uses standard spools of filament and is not dissimilar to FFF printing and other filament-based sub-types. FDM printing was invented in the late 1980s and has since gone on to become a large segment of the industry, particularly with regard to commercially-available printers.

Benefits of FDM Printing

There is a reason why FDM printers are some of the hottest models in town, they offer some significant benefits.

Ease of Use

This is one of the more basic additive manufacturing processes out there. It has been around since 1989, giving the technology plenty of time to simplify and become easier to use. Flash forward 30 years, and this is one of the more common 3D printing methods for just this reason. These printers are easy to use and, more or less, failsafe, though you should still practice some caution when making prints.

Complex Geometries

Despite being easy to use and leveraging simple filament spools, FDM printers are deceptively powerful. They handle complex geometries and large cavities with ease, making them the perfect choice for building off-the-beaten-path designs. This has made FDM printers extremely popular in the toy and figure-making space.

STAT: FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) was originally invented and patented by Stratasys founder Scott Crump in 1989. Fast forward to the present, FDM is now the most commonly used 3D printing process. (source)

Relatively Inexpensive

These printers are relatively budget-friendly, so have at it and get printing.

FDM Printing FAQs

What is FDM technology?

FDM technology refers to the FDM printing process, with a wide variety of outcomes via the plastic materials used to complete print jobs.

How to choose a 3D printing technology?

This depends on your budget and personal preferences. Some printers make 3D models layer by layer, while others move rapidly. Some leverage materials with unique mechanical properties, while others use plastic.

What are common materials for FDM 3D Printing?

There is a wide range of filament types available here, with many offering unique mechanical properties that go beyond simple thermoplastic materials. Some 3D printing techniques use fused filament, while others use molten material.
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