Fused Deposition Modelling

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From the Wikipedia:

"Fused deposition modeling, which is often referred to by its initials FDM, is a type of Rapid Prototyping or Rapid Manufacturing (RP) technology commonly used within engineering design. The technology was developed by S. Scott Crump in the late 1980s and was commercialized in 1990. The FDM technology is marketed commercially by Stratasys Inc, who also holds a trademark on the term.

Like most other RP processes (such as 3D Printing and Stereolithography) FDM works on an "additive" principle by laying down material in layers. A plastic filament or metal wire is unwound from a coil and supplies material to an extrusion nozzle which can turn on and off the flow. The nozzle is heated to melt the material and can be moved in both horizontal and vertical directions by a numerically controlled mechanism, directly controlled by a Computer Aided Design software package. In a similar manner to stereolithography, the model is built up from layers as the material hardens immediately after extrusion from the nozzle.

Several materials are available with different trade-offs between strength and temperature. As well as Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) polymer, the FDM technology can also be used with polycarbonates, polycaprolactone, polyphenylsulphones and waxes. A "water-soluble" material can be used for making temporary supports while manufacturing is in progress. Marketed under the name WaterWorks by Stratasys this soluble support material is actually dissolved in a heated sodium hydroxide solution with the assistance of ultrasonic agitation." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fused_deposition_modeling)