This video examine the additive manufacturing process called material extrusion using the example of fused deposition modeling (FDM). Review the FDM process using a video example, examine some FDM produced objects, and explore important applications, advantages, and disadvantages of the technology.
- Hi, welcome back. In this segment, we're going to talk about a process called material extrusion, which is commonly known as either fused deposition modeling, or fused filament fabrication. Under either of those technology variations, the principle is essentially the same. We're taking a thermal plastic filament and we're running it through a heated nozzle, extruding it on to a build surface, layer-by-layer. You could think of it like a hot glue gun, right? Like extruding that solid glue stick through a heated tip and onto the build plate.
Now, in order to have that discussion, we're really fortunate to have Kevin Collier here. Kevin Collier is the factory innovation manager here at America Makes, which basically means that he's responsible for running all the equipment and managing all the people that we see here in this facility. Now prior to America Makes, Kevin worked for more than a decade at 3D Systems, which is one of the largest purveyors, one of the most advanced purveyors of additive manufacturing equipment globally, and before that, Kevin spent more than 25 years with Siemens working with information technology.
So Kevin, we're delighted to have you here to share your experience and your knowledge with us. - My pleasure. - Now before we get started, I thought what we would do is take a look at a video that shows the end-to-end process for fused deposition modeling, and we'll back away from that, we'll come back, and we'll ask you to take us on a tour of some of the equipment that we have here at America Makes. We'll talk about applications, advantages, and disadvantages. So in this process, as in other processes, we're creating a 3D model, which is then sliced up by the software and loaded into the machine. We've got filaments.
In this case, we're looking at two materials, one is for support, one is for building the actual model, and we're running those through a series of channels and down through the extrusion heads. Now those extrusion heads are heated so that when the material comes out on the platform it's in a molten state. We've got the two extrusion heads, that's driven down into the heated material, and it's laid down just like a hot glue gun. The different materials each forming layers with supports to create a finished object.
Now in this case, we're looking at a fan blade, and you can see that the black material is the object itself and all that white material is support. Building layer-upon-layer until we have a completed object that comes out attached to the build plate, we remove those from the build plate, chip off the support material, and end up with a completed object. - [Kevin] Now in addition to chipping off, you could put it through a tank like he's doing right now, to melt the material away as well. - Now Kevin, you have some pretty sophisticated material extrusion equipment here, why don't you take us on a tour of it? - Certainly.
Just to show you, this is what a material cartridge looks like. The support cartridge will look just like this. And if you look inside the machine, here's the bay for the cartridges. We get two model, two support. If you notice, it is a solid, okay? The process takes it through the machine to the print head, and here's an example of the print head in the machine. So basically, it sits like this, that material you just saw will come through here, it gets softened as it heats up, and then as the process starts and loads, lays layer-by-layer, as you saw in the video, you'll notice that it's nice and smooth and soft, and so it's softened to allow the process, or the beads to come out smoothly.
So in the process it is heated, the chamber is quite warm. If you look inside, it is lighted. Here's the build plate end, where your parts are all made, the print heads are over here, you got two, one for support, one for model, and the process just takes off from there. - So Kevin, there's quite a variety, quite a range of systems that you can actually use here. This is a very high-end, this is a large system, right? All the way down to the consumer models? - Correct, this is one of the larger machines that are available on the market, as well as all the way down to the desktop variety.
- [Mark] And in fact, this is pretty much the technology that underlies most of the consumer models that we see in the market today? - Correct. - And here actually is what one of those consumer models looks like, that you can buy for just a few thousand bucks. Now, I also notice that the surface quality, this, I can see the tearing on here. Is there any way to smooth that out? - Well, quite frankly, you can adjust some things in the application to make the beads less protruding. You can also go through a process in another tank, where there's a chemical spray that will go over this, and actually make it nice and smooth.
You could also sand it as well. - Okay, what about material strength? - Material strengths depends upon the orientation. Quite frankly, you can orient this part several different ways. There is a bit of an issue perpendicular, you lose some of the mechanical properties, but an applications person or an experienced user will orient this in the build chamber accordingly to get the mechanical properties. - So, and by mechanical properties, you mean it'll break easier? - Correct. - Okay, terrific. Speed and cost? - Speed and cost, this is a rather slow process, compared to some of the contemporaries in the business, SLA, SLS.
Cost, it's a bit expensive, but then again, you can create geometries such as this that you can't get anywhere else. - Okay, terrific. So what we've got here, material extrusion, right, FDM, fused filament fabrication, a pretty ubiquitous technology in terms of where we see it, particularly in these consumer models, right? Good variety of materials, some issues with weakness some issues with speed, but good applications for tooling and aerospace and defense. - It's a very strong application for tooling.
- What is additive manufacturing?
- Working with light-activated polymers
- Resin printing
- Modeling and extruding materials
- Fusing, melting, and sintering
- Binder jetting
- Laminating sheets
- Developing a product
- Shaping the direction of tooling
- Evolving a supply chain
- Evolving a product
- Evolving a business model