Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is an additive manufacturing technology commonly used for modeling, prototyping, and production applications. It is one of the techniques used for 3D printing.
FDM begins with a software process which processes an STL file (stereolithography file format), mathematically slicing and orienting the model for the build process. If required, support structures may be generated.
The nozzle is heated to melt the material. The thermoplastics are heated past their glass transition temperature and are then deposited by an extrusion head.
The nozzle can be moved in both horizontal and vertical directions by a numerically controlled mechanism. The nozzle follows a tool-path controlled by a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software package, and the part is built from the bottom up, one layer at a time. Stepper motors or servo motors are typically employed to move the extrusion head. The mechanism used is often an X-Y-Z rectilinear design, although other mechanical designs such as deltabot have been employed.