Desktop FDM 3D Printers Will Win in the Manufacturing of End Use Parts

A 3D Print in Matte Grey of an FDM part.
A Facilan C8 3D Printed Part by 3D4Makers.
  • Over 500 OEMs and over a 400 3D printing filament vendors have joined the desktop FDM 3D printing market.
  • One that has now seen the sale of over one million desktop FDM 3D printers worldwide.
  • Desktop FDM systems have developed very quickly with reliability, repeatability and print quality improving rapidly.
  • FDM is the most vibrant, competitive and fastest developing area of 3D printing
  • Touch screens, bed levelling and dual extrusion, are all emerging features. More companies are developing 3D printing software, and bulk filament prices are cratering.
  • Rapid shifts in this market have made open FDM desktop systems a viable contender for manufacturing.
  • With reliability and part quality improving, desktop FDM has gotten close (in some areas) to the output from industrial Additive Manufacturing systems.
  • For B side parts, tough parts and strong parts FDM is now a viable solution for manufacturing at scale using 3D printing.
  • Automotive, aerospace, industrial, machinery and manufacturing industries are using thousands of desktop type systems to manufacture parts.
  • Companies who wish to lead in manufacturing the future are now deploying hundreds of systems in arrays to produce end-use parts.
  • With high dimensional accuracy and good part, strength manufacturers are also finding that using desktop FDM to manufacture gives them the lowest part cost in 3D printing.
  • If one includes finishing and post finishing the part costs are much lower in desktop FDM than with other technologies.
  • There are of course exceptions, but as a general rule, a Kilo of desktop 3D printed parts can cost between $12 and $50 in desktop FDM compared to ranges of between $100 and $1000 per Kilo for other technologies.
  • Additionally FDM materials and material properties are often more familiar to them than the rather more exotic SLA (stereolithography, vat polymerisation) and SLS (selective laser sintering, powder bed fusion) materials.
  • The fact that the desktop FDM systems market is open and lets people use whichever material they would like is the main reason why I advise clients that manufacturing with desktop FDM is an excellent alternative to other technologies.
  • Materials developments are accelerating with flexibles, filled materials and custom materials being developed much more readily and inexpensively for desktop FDM.
  • By providing a low kilo price per part, a good time to part and OK looking parts, desktop FDM is winning in manufacturing.
  • In medical SLS still reigns supreme, indirect and smooth parts are still governed by SLA while for many individual parts and applications closed ecosystems are still more desirable.
  • In general manufacturing applications, however, it is FDM that is quietly gaining the upper hand.
  • Whereas some of my colleagues (and wannabe general consultancies without any 3D printing knowledge) believe in closed systems, I believe in the crazy, tempestuous world of desktop FDM.
  • A friend of mine opined that he thought that desktop FDM was dead. I was thoroughly surprised by this.
  • The rollercoaster is just picking up steam, and it will get crazier before it gets saner.
  • But, tens of thousands of end-use parts are being made on desktop FDM systems and used in industry at scale today.
  • I believe that in general manufacturing of end-use parts it is desktop FDM that will win out over other technologies.