FDM is the most cost-effective way of producing custom thermoplastic parts and prototypes. It also has the shortest lead times – as fast as next-day-delivery – due to the high availability of the technology. A wide range of thermoplastic materials is available for FDM, suitable for both prototyping and some functional applications.
As of limitations, FDM has the lowest dimensional accuracy and resolution compared to the other 3D printing technologies. FDM parts are likely to have visible layer lines, so post-processing is often required for a smooth surface finish. Additionally, the layer adhesion mechanism makes FDM parts inherently anisotropic. This means that they will be weaker in one direction and are generally unsuitable for critical applications.
Fast turn-around (less than 24 hours)
Functional applications (non-critical load)