FDM prototypes: what they are, process, advantages, applications

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What are FDM prototypes

FDM Fused Deposition Modeling technology works with 3D printers and thermoplastic materials capable of creating robust, long-lasting and dimensionally stable pieces.

FDM literally means fused deposition modeling and is a 3D printing technology that uses filaments of final material.

FDM Fused Deposition Modelling

In the industrial field this technology is mainly used when it is necessary to have a model with definitive material.

The accuracy of this process is quite low and ranges between 0.25mm and 0.5mm.

We can create monolithic prototypes up to 600X500X310 mm in ASA, TPU, PA66, PA12 Carbon, PC, PC ABS, POM.

Prototype construction layers are almost always visible to the naked eye

To make the model aesthetic it is necessary to sand the surface to make it smooth.

In the industrial field, other processes are used more frequently, which allow for higher precision with materials that simulate the definitive ones.


In the first step, the FDM prototyping process consists in heating a wire of thermoplastic material and then it is extruded through a hot nozzle. The material is deposited layer by layer following the geometry entered in the CAD file, starting from the base to the top of the object. The machine software provides for the creation of supports to lighten the support structure and ensure the stability of the prototype during the production process. At the end of the realization, the supports are removed and the pieces are ready for use.

One of the criticalities of this process is the deformation of the pieces, especially for large prototypes. Deformation is managed by more closely monitoring the temperature of the FDM system and increasing adhesion between the part and the building platform. The designer’s choices can also reduce the likelihood of warping by better handling large flat areas, thin protrusions, and sharp corners.

All obviously according to the material to be used in printing. Often the use of final material makes this process suitable for the realization of functional prototypes, spare parts of worn or damaged parts. 

FDM prototypes are characterized by a high thermal, chemical or mechanical resistance, but by imprecise finishes except for specific additional processing in post-production. For this reason they are not suitable for functional tests or tests even if the material used is definitive.


The benefits associated with the use of this technology are different:

  • Easy to use
  • Materials are mechanically and environmentally stable.
  • Complex geometries and cavities become simple with the use of this technology

Possible applications

Thanks to the materials used by this technology, it is possible to create FDM prototypes in definitive material. The choice of material is linked, as always, to the performance and functionality that the model must have.

ABS is suitable for applications where resistance to temperature is required, moreover it is characterized by being extremely versatile, stable and with a good finish.

PC is the strongest material and can be an alternative to ABS as the performance is quite similar

Nylon has great mechanical properties and the best impact resistance, while TPU is mainly used for flexible products

The possible applications of this technology are very wide and can be traced back to various industrial sectors such as automotive, aerospace, food, etc. Nonetheless, it is a technology that can have limits on a production and application level.

FDM technology offers lower resolution and accuracy than technologies such as Selective Laser Sintering, Stereolithography or silicone mold replicas, making it not the most suitable technology for printing complex designs or parts with elaborate details. Good quality finishes are obtainable in the face of post-process operations with additional processing costs and extended times.

Why choose Coesum for your FDM prototypes

Our goal has always been to be able to offer professional solutions for the industry. This is why we have implemented this technology internally by purchasing professional machines with big building platforms.

Inside it is possible to create prototypes with all professional 3D printing technologies to meet all the typical needs of the B2B sector. We are equipped with 5-axis machining centers and a vacuum casting department for silicone mold replicas. In addition to the prototyping steps we can also follow the industrialization for the mass production of plastic and aluminum parts.

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