Consumer vs. Industrial FDM 3D Printers
You don’t have to work in additive manufacturing to have had experience with additive manufacturing. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), also referred to as Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), is the most widely used 3D printing technology. It can be found in schools, homes and offices around the country. Many robotics, STEM, and graphic design classes teach students how to construct complex models using this equipment.
While it’s great to see so many people exposed to this innovative technology, there are important differences between industrial and desktop FDM printers.
How Does the FDM 3D Printing Process Work?
FDM is a material extrusion process. The thermoplastic material is added to the machine as a continuous filament usually on a spool. It is fed into a moving heated printer extruder head. It is forced through a heated nozzle by the extruder which then deposits the melt onto the build platform. When a layer is completed, the distance between the extruder and build platform is incrementally increased. Then the next layer is deposited directly onto the prior one, building the print layer by layer until complete.
The Limitations of Consumer FDM 3D Printing Technology
The affordable desktop FDM 3D printers you see in homes and schools simply aren’t on the same level as the industrial printers that service bureaus and industrial manufacturers use.
Consumer desktop printers can certainly produce low-quality prototypes, such as a model house for an architecture class, but they aren’t equipped to handle high-precision requirements or high-grade materials.
Only an industrial FDM 3D printer can produce the precise parts necessary for high-stakes industries like automotive, aerospace or military defense.
Alchemy Industrial’s FDM 3D Printing Technology
Alchemy Industrial invests in the best additive technology on the market to meet our customers’ toughest challenges. Our Roboze industrial FDM printing technology offers the following benefits:
- Scalability. Typical desktop or prosumer printers have a build volume around 200 x 200 x 200 mm. The Roboze Argo 500 printer allows for production of finished parts to volumes as large as 500 x 500 x 500 mm.
- High-precision accuracy. Desktop printers often utilize belts for positioning. Our Roboze 3D printers have a patented X and Y beltless drive system making Roboze 3D printers the most accurate FDM printing system. This system improves mechanical repeatability and precision in production.
- Build environment temperature control. A typical desktop printer will often have a heated build plate and possibly a small heater that warms up the volume if the machine includes an enclosure. The Roboze Argo 500 used by Alchemy Industrial has a heated build chamber that controls the printing environment. It is capable of reaching 180 °C (356 °F), in order to process technopolymers and composite materials and guarantee mechanical performance.
- Extrusion temperatures. Desktop FDM printers are usually able to extrude materials at temperatures of around 280 °C (536 °F). The Roboze Argo 500 also has a HVP extruder which takes extrusion temperatures up to 450 °C (842 °F) for high viscosity polymers such as Carbon PEEK, PEEK and ULTEM ™ AM9085F.
- High-grade materials. Desktop printers typically print materials like PLA and ABS. Our Roboze 3D printers have the capacity to handle a full range of materials: from top-tier technopolymers like Carbon PEEK to engineering grade materials such as nylons and TPUs. We’ll always recommend the right materials for a particular project.
- Cost, time, and energy savings. Subtractive machining processes at traditional manufacturing shops require large billets of material—and much of that material ultimately goes to waste as it’s turned or milled away. With additive manufacturing, you only have to buy the materials needed, saving on upfront costs. Our digitized process also decreases setup and lead times. If you’re working with lower volumes, industrial FDM is fast and cost-effective without sacrificing quality.
Want to see exactly what an industrial FDM printer can do? Request a quote today.