Graphic of print head extruding a thin bead of plastic

Frequently Asked Questions

Get to know FDM Technology

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Technology, invented by Stratasys, is distinct from other 3D printing methods. It builds professional-quality models, prototypes and parts in a range of production-grade thermoplastics.

It’s also easy to use, reliable, clean and office friendly. Get to know FDM in the FAQs below, or by checking out FDM materials and videos.

What file format do I need to process a part for my Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) system?

The Short Answer — FDM requires the use of an STL file.

The Extended Version — The process of 3D printing begins with a 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design) model. After the 3D model is created, it is exported as an STL file. The STL file is then imported into one of two Stratasys software program, Insight or Catalyst, depending on the intended printer. Within the Stratasys software, the user will determine the tool path for the 3D printer to create the model made from durable thermoplastics.

What is the minimum thickness Stratasys FDM machines can print? (also known as resolution)

The Short Answer — The minimum thickness is 0.005 inches (0.127mm).

The Extended Version — The minimum layer thickness varies between material and machine. The layer thickness can vary between 0.005 inches (0.127mm) and 0.013 inches (0.330mm). The user has the ability to choose a desired thickness based on the printer, the application, part intent, and material capabilities. To learn more about your material capabilities please refer to the FDM Material Comparison matrix on the Stratasys website.

What tolerances are Stratasys FDM 3D Printers capable of holding?

The Short Answer — Tolerances are a function of the system producing the part and the overall size of the part.

The Extended Version — For the Mojo, Dimension, and uPrint systems there is no standard tolerance. Dimensional accuracy will vary based upon part size, geometry, and orientation. These systems are designed to produce concept 3D models which do not typically require accuracy down to a few thousandths of an inch. Todd Grimm & Associates has performed a benchmark study of 3D printer accuracy that is available at tagrimm.com .

The Fortus 360mc and 400mc large and small systems deliver an accuracy of ± 0.005 inch or ± 0.0015 in./ in. (± 0.127 mm or ± 0.0015 mm/ mm), whichever is greater.*

The Fortus 900mc parts are produced within an accuracy of ± 0.0035 inch or ± 0.0015 in./in. (± 0.089 mm or ± 0.0015 mm/ mm), whichever is greater.*

*Note: Accuracy is geometry dependent. Achievable accuracy specification is derived from statistical data at 95% dimensional yield. -See the Fortus 360/400/900mc accuracy white papers for more information. Learn more.

What materials are offered when using a Stratasys FDM 3D Printer?

The Short Answer — FDM technology uses ten different thermoplastics.

The Extended Version — Stratasys offers ten different types of thermoplastics, which are dependent on the 3D printer. Each material has unique properties to fit the need of a variety of applications. For a complete list of materials please see the FDM Materials section of the Stratasys website.

Does Stratasys offer translucent materials for FDM systems?

The Short Answer — Yes, Stratasys offers two options for translucent materials called ABSi-translucent and PC-ISO translucent.

The Extended Version — Stratasys does offer two translucent materials called ABSi-translucent and PC-ISO-translucent which work great for conceptual modeling, functional prototyping, and direct digital manufacturing. ABSi-translucent comes in clear, red, and amber tints. The ABSi-translucent and PC-ISO-translucent material are available on the Fortus 400mc and 900mc.

Does Stratasys offer FDA approved materials?

The Short Answer — No, but, ABS-M30i and PC-ISO are 10993 USP Class VI materials.

The Extended Version — Stratasys does offer two materials which are biocompatible, (ISO 10993 USP Class VI) which are commonly used in food and drug packaging. These materials are ABS-M30i and PC-ISO. However, neither Stratasys nor the raw material manufacturer can approve resins/plastics for particular applications within FDA compliance. It is the responsibility of the finished device manufacturer to determine the end-use suitability through appropriate testing and analysis of all component parts and materials to be used in the finished products.

Where can I get a sample or benchmark part?

The Short Answer — Your local reseller.

The Extended Version — Stratasys has hundreds of highly educated resellers located around the world to better assist all of its customers. Your local reseller can help you identify which Stratasys machine is the best fit for your company. The reseller will work with you to get the samples you need to help in your purchasing decision. They can provide you with samples used in various applications depending on your need or you can provide them a 3D CAD file of your own parts for them to produce.
Find a Reseller.

Where can I get a prototype or small quantity produced without purchasing a 3D printer?

The Short AnswerRedeye On Demand.

The Extended Version — Redeye On Demand is a division of Stratasys that produces parts for prototyping and production using a variety of Fused Deposition Modeling systems. Redeye On Demand is the largest additive manufacturing part provider in the world. Customers from around the world can obtain a quote and order parts directly from the Redeye website.

Can I print a model with multiple colors?

The Short Answer — Yes

The Extended Version — Fused Deposition Modeling allows users the choice of multiple colors throughout a single part. Using Stratasys proprietary software, a user can add a pause between any layers of a build. When the machine is paused the operator can load a canister of a different color and resume building on top of the previous color. This can only be done with various colors of the same material, and only on 3D Printers that use Insight Software.

What is 3D printing?

The Short Answer — 3D printing is an additive process. 3D printing makes three dimensional solid objects from a digital CAD file. Using an additive process, like FDM, an object is created by laying down successive layers of material. Distinct from other 3D printers, FDM printers use real industrial thermoplastics.

The Extended Version — Learn more about 3D printing with FDM Technology.

Can we print hollowed or partially filled models for cost/weight reduction?

The Short Answer — Yes, when processing your parts in Catalyst or Insight you can create different internal properties to allow for less material to be used.

The Extended Version — Catalyst software which comes with the purchase of a uPrint or Dimension 3D Printer allows users to choose the model interior make up. There are three options: Solid, Sparse – high density, and Sparse – low density.

Insight software which comes with the purchase of a Fortus3D Production System allows users to modify the interior model with solid and sparse fills as well, creating a custom fill by using advanced tools within the software.