The Benefits of Choosing FFF 3D Printing for Your Business

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Fused filament fabrication (FFF) is a well-liked additive manufacturing (AM) technique that banks on a heated nozzle for the melting and deposition of thermoplastic filament layer by layer, eventually leading to a 3D object. This method serves as a versatile and budget-friendly technology that finds extensive use in various applications, from preliminary prototyping to final product manufacturing.

Reasons to Choose FFF 3D Printing

  • Affordability: FFF 3D printers come across as relatively cheap both in terms of purchase and operation, proving to be a suitable selection for companies irrespective of their sizes. Their prices can vary from a mere couple hundred dollars to tens of thousands, based on the precise quality and applications you need.
  • Wide range of materials: These systems can work with a plethora of thermoplastic materials, such as ABS, PLA, Nylon, Polycarbonate, and much more, thereby offering users the freedom to select the right material that suits their specific requirements.
  • Design freedom: FFF 3D printing facilitates establishments to come up with intricate geometries that could be hard or even impractical to produce using conventional manufacturing methods. Moreover, the use of water-soluble filament in a dual extruder for creating support structures that can be exterminated post-printing paves the way for enhancing design possibilities.
  • Rapid prototyping: The availability of filament-based technology makes it possible to rapidly create prototypes for novel products, which can come in handy for businesses to expedite their product development process and time-to-market.
  • On-demand manufacturing: FFF 3D printing can be deployed for manufacturing parts as per requirement, potentially reducing inventory expenses and cutting down lead times.

Other FFF Options

  • Metal FFF: Metal FFF printers rely on metal-infused filaments to produce metal parts that are then sintered in a furnace to achieve full density. Metal FFF components are typically stronger and more durable than plastic, but they can also be more expensive to produce due to post-print sintering.

Image courtesy of Markforged – Showcasing the process of a metal FFF part

  • Continuous fiber-reinforced FFF: Fiber-reinforced FFF printers deposit filament in conjunction with continuous fiber strands, such as carbon, glass fiber, and kevlar to produce parts that are stronger and stiffer than traditional FFF components.

The image uses Kevlar to highlight the continuous fiber reinforcement, making it easier to distinguish from the regular printed part. Both metal and fiber-reinforced components are stronger than traditional FFF parts, making them ideal for applications where high strength are required. Whereas metal filament results in overall increased durability, most fiber-reinforced items may demonstrate enhanced stiffness.

Applications for FFF 3D Printing in Business

FFF 3D printing can be leveraged for a wide range of applications in business, including:

  • Prototyping: Due to its low cost, filament-based 3D printing may be preferred for prototyping compared to other AM techniques. 
  • Manufacturing: With FFF, it’s possible to manufacture a variety of products, including custom components, tooling, and jigs. Due to the rapid improvement in FFF printing accuracy and quality, parts can now be printed in end-use, customer-facing applications. In turn, businesses may be able to reduce their manufacturing costs and improve their efficiency.
  • Repair and maintenance: FFF 3D printing can be used to repair or replace damaged parts on equipment and machinery, thus reducing downtime and improving productivity.

Conclusion

FFF 3D printing is a versatile and cost-effective technology that can be used for a wide range of applications in business. It is a good option for enterprises of all sizes that are looking to accelerate product development cycles, reduce manufacturing costs, or improve efficiency. With its affordability, wide range of materials, design freedom, and rapid prototyping capabilities, FFF 3D printing can help nearly any user to achieve their goals.

Feature image courtesy of the Virtual Foundry.

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