Fused Deposition Modeling: How it works.
FDM builds three-dimensional parts by melting and advancing a fine ribbon of plastic through a computer-controlled extrusion head, producing parts that are ready to use. The automated three-step process is quick and simple:
1. PRE-PROCESSING (“slicing” or sectioning CAD design into layers)
The FDM process begins in one of two build-preparation programs, Catalyst EX or Insight.
In operation, your first step is to import a design file, pick options, and create slices (layers). The preprocessing software calculates sections and “slices” the part design into many layers, ranging from 0.005 inches (0.127 mm) to 0.013 inches (0.3302 mm) in height. Using the sectioning data, the software then generates “tool paths” or building instructions which will drive the extrusion head. This step is automatic when using Catalyst EX. Next send the job to the 3D printer.
2. PRODUCTION (the layering process) Press “print” to start the building process.
3. POST-PROCESSING (removing disposable support material)