This White Paper will get you familiar with the process of Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) for plastics, in which layers of material are built up to create a solid object.
An introduction to FFF
Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) is an extrusion process where the object is built by depositing melted material layer-by-layer. The plastics used correspond to the same thermoplastics that can be found in conventional manufacturing processes, like ABS and Nylon.
FFF led the expansion of desktop 3D printers and is now the most widespread 3D Printing Technology, essentially due to the low initial investment needed, the immense variety of applications offered, and the little specific knowledge required to successfully use this technology.
How does FFF work?
As mentioned above, FFF consists of an extrusion process of melted plastic. In order to generate the part, a print head travels around the printing surface depositing the material.
The workflow is as follows:
- The first stage consists of generating the 3D model with any design software, such as Solidworks or Catia. The 3D model needs to be exported in STL format.
- In file preparation, the model is configured using a slicing software including all the printing requirements. This configuration will contain the material selection and the nozzle size. The software also separates the model into layers, and you can configure the printing quality, and movement commands.
- The printing phase is the deposition of the melted plastic.
In-house desktop 3D printers: FFF vs SLA
The most popular 3D printing technologies are FFF and SLA. SLA is a liquid photopolymer selectively cured by UV light.
Both technologies have their own benefits and disadvantages depending on your business’ needs.
Professional desktop 3D printers compared to industrial printers and outsourcing
Within the FFF technology market, there are different printer categories based on the relation between price and printing quality.
Should the number of parts to produce be low and the usage planned to be sporadic, there is the option to outsource the 3D printing service through a 3D printing service bureau.
If the plan is to work on a medium-long term project, the acquisition of 3D printers can reduce costs significantly. This acquisition implies an initial investment, but then the price per part becomes approximately 30 times cheaper.
Which solution best fits your needs
It is important to take into consideration parameters such as cost and lead time:
In-house FFF printers offer the best combination of costs and lead times. However, investing in both FFF and SLA printing technologies will give your company full versatility when producing parts. To weigh the benefits for your company, read our white paper and have a think about your answers to these questions:
- What is my budget?
- Does my company have specialized equipment to support a 3D printer?
- Do I need to print mechanically demanding parts?
- Will there be designing and application versatility?
- How many printed parts does my company require?
- What is the lead time my company requires?
Would you like to know more about 3D printing? Check out the following white papers:
Ready to save time and cut costs with a BCN3D printer? Request a customized quotation for a BCN3D Printer.