Fused Deposition Modeling


Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is a widely used additive manufacturing technique, primarily employed in 3D printing processes. It involves melting a thermoplastic material, which is then extruded layer by layer to create a desired 3D object based on a digital model. FDM enables the production of complex structures, rapid prototyping, and customization across various industries, such as automotive, aerospace, and medical.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Fused Deposition Modeling” is: /fju:zd dɪˈpəʊzɪʃən ˈmɒdəlɪŋ/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is an additive manufacturing process that utilizes thermoplastic materials to build 3D objects layer by layer, offering a cost-effective and accessible solution for rapid prototyping and production.
  2. FDM technology is widely used due to its versatility in creating complex geometries and functional parts, with a range of materials offering differing levels of strength, flexibility, and heat resistance, making it suitable for various industries and applications.
  3. The limitations of FDM include lower resolution compared to other 3D printing technologies, and potential issues with accuracy and surface quality due to warping, shrinkage, or support material, which may require post-processing to improve the final appearance and performance of the object.


Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is an essential term in the world of technology, particularly in additive manufacturing, as it refers to a popular and widely-used 3D printing technique.

FDM has a tremendous impact on industries like aerospace, automotive, medical, and even consumer products, primarily due to its cost-effectiveness, versatility, and user-friendliness.

This process involves the heating and precise extrusion of thermoplastic filaments to create complex three-dimensional objects, layer by layer.

The significance of FDM lies in its ability to transform digital models into tangible prototypes, parts, or tools quickly, enabling rapid iterations and innovations while saving both time and resources.


Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is a powerful additive manufacturing method, serving as an essential tool in various industries, especially where rapid prototyping and production of intricate designs are required. Its primary purpose is to create three-dimensional objects layer by layer using thermoplastic materials, such as polylactic acid (PLA) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). This technique enables organizations to significantly reduce the time and costs associated with traditional manufacturing processes and facilitates the production of complex objects that would otherwise be impossible or prohibitively expensive using conventional methods. It has been widely adopted in sectors including automotive, aerospace, medical, and consumer goods, offering a more efficient and innovative approach to product development and customization.

FDM technology is highly valued for enabling businesses and users to quickly transform a digital 3D model into a tangible prototype or functional part. Designers and engineers can test and refine their creations in a matter of hours or days, rather than weeks or months it used to take using traditional techniques. This agile approach boosts speed-to-market and enables organizations to respond more effectively to market demands and swiftly implement design improvements.

Moreover, FDM allows for the production of parts on-demand, reducing inventory and warehouse costs while promoting a more sustainable manufacturing process, as waste material is cut to a minimum. Additionally, FDM has found an essential role in the medical industry, where it plays a part in creating customized prosthetics, surgical guides, and even medical equipment. This technology, with its versatility and time-saving capabilities, continues to find new applications and bring innovation to the way objects are designed, prototyped, and built.

Examples of Fused Deposition Modeling

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is a widely used additive manufacturing technology that involves the deposition of material in layers to create a three-dimensional object. Here are three real-world examples of FDM technology:

Rapid Prototyping: Product designers, engineers, and manufacturers use FDM to quickly create prototypes of their designs. This allows them to test the functionality, form, and fit of a new product before moving to mass production. Companies like Ford, SpaceX, and Boeing are known to implement FDM technology to create and test their prototypes, subsequently reducing the risk of costly mistakes during manufacturing.

Customized Medical Devices: The healthcare industry is leveraging FDM technology to create customized medical devices such as prosthetics, orthotics, and implants. Using 3D scans of a patient’s body, FDM printers can produce tailor-made devices that provide a better fit and enhanced comfort for the user. For example, Not Impossible Labs has used FDM technology to create low-cost, customized prosthetic arms for children in war-torn regions.

Parts Replacement: FDM technology is increasingly being used to create replacement parts for a wide range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, and consumer appliances. By utilizing FDM, companies can save time and money by producing spare parts on-demand without having to rely on supplier inventory or discontinued parts. The U.S. Navy has used FDM to create replacement parts for their ships, while railway companies have implemented FDM technology to produce hard-to-find replacement components for their locomotives.

Fused Deposition Modeling FAQ

What is Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)?

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is an additive manufacturing technology that uses a thermoplastic filament melted and extruded through a nozzle to create three-dimensional objects layer by layer. This technique is widely used for rapid prototyping, production of functional parts, and creating complex geometries.

What materials can be used in FDM?

Various thermoplastic materials can be used in FDM, including PLA (Polylactic Acid), ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol), TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane), Nylon, and more. Each material has unique properties that make it suitable for different applications.

What are the advantages of FDM?

FDM offers several benefits, including low-cost materials and equipment, ease of use, rapid prototyping capabilities, customization, and the ability to produce complex geometries that may be difficult or impossible with other manufacturing methods.

What are the limitations of FDM?

Some limitations of FDM include lower resolution and accuracy compared to other additive manufacturing methods, longer build times for larger or more intricate objects, and visible layer lines in the final product, which may require post-processing such as sanding or smoothing to achieve a more polished appearance.

What is the difference between FDM and other 3D printing technologies like SLA and SLS?

FDM uses a thermoplastic filament to create objects, while SLA (Stereolithography) employs a liquid resin cured by a light source, and SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) utilizes a powder material fused by a laser. Each technology has its advantages and disadvantages based on factors such as materials used, build speed, accuracy, and surface finish of the final product.

Related Technology Terms

  • Thermoplastic filament
  • Extrusion nozzle
  • Build platform
  • Layer-by-layer printing
  • G-code

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents