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Excerpt 1: 3D Printing with FDM Technology: How it Works

FDM technology for Stratasys 3D Printers

3D printers use an additive manufacturing process, which creates a part in a succession of layers from plastic or other materials. That's the opposite of traditional subtractive manufacturing, which creates a part by cutting away from a block of material.There are lots of methods of 3D printing, but one thing they have in common is they're all driven by data from a CAD (or computer aided design) file. The CAD data defines a "tool path" for the printer to create the layers that build up the part.

"3D Printing with FDM: How it Works" is a Stratasys white paper that walks readers step by step through the FDM 3D printing process. Below is the first of four excerpts from the paper, which explains how to create a "build file."


  • In Catalyst or Insight software, open your CAD file (in STL format), and select a material, color and slice thickness.
  • Pick a build and support style to match your application’s requirements.
  • Select an orientation and then let the software do the rest.
  • It sections the design into layers and creates toolpaths for both the part and its disposable support structures.
  • Then it outputs a build file, which defines precise motion control paths. Click print to send the build file to the 3D printer.

View or download the complete "3D Printing with FDM: How it Works" white paper.

Craig Librett

Craig Librett

A 25+-year industry veteran, Craig has written extensively about all aspects of the technology industry. As Senior Public Relations Manager for Stratasys, he is particularly well-versed at communicating the impact of Additive Manufacturing across a broad range of industries. Craig is a graduate of Boston University, with an MBA from Northeastern University.

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