FDM Vs FFF: 3D Printing Processes Comparison

The 3D printing industry is rapidly growing with its jaw-dropping innovations and classic options. FDM and FFF are the two popular choices among them. And due to some of their similarities, many people are getting confused after comparing FDM vs FFF!

To help you know which one you should go for, you must know about them as deeply as possible. Hands down, the very first and major difference between FDM and FFF are in print quality and laser printing.

Today I’m going to compare these two different 3D printing processes, helping you decide which one is more suitable for your specific purposes.

What Does Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Stand for 3D Printing?

FDM stands for “Fused Deposition Modeling”. Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is a type of additive manufacturing technology used for creating 3D objects from a digital file. 

The ideal measurement of the nozzle is 1-2mm or less than 0.1 inches. The plastic streams should be thin.  They can layer together smoothly to create elaborate models. Other 3D printing methods can use different materials and have lower build speeds. 

The FDM process also uses a more common term called extrusion. The 3D printer heats up and melts a rod of plastic.  It transports through the nozzle while it lays down a layer upon printed material. 

FDM has considered as delivering highly detailed prints with minimal waste of material. FDM printers are not suitable for the detailed interior model or prototype printing, keep in mind.

How Does FDM Work?

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) works with heating and extruding plastic or other materials. These materials form the physical shape of the printed item. The molten plastic includes melted powder and additives. You can extrude through a nozzle at high pressure and speeds. It can cool on the exterior with water or air. The nozzle tip has made with stainless steel, aluminum, carbon, or ceramic materials.

It acts as a heated platform for depositing plastic material by melting it in the head shape itself. It allows direct plastic contact with air at room temperature or lower speeds hardening (like below 400C).

This way, 3D things from a digital model by cooling and solidifying plastic. The final product is a solid, hollow, or filled shape that refines and polishes. 

What Does FFF Mean in 3D Printing?

FFF is a 3D printing technique that uses an electron beam to fuse filaments. FFF stands for “Fused Filament Fabrication”. The printer works melting filament into a hot area. Then, it moves the nozzle head down to the built material plate. It allows for fewer air bubbles and smoother surfaces in this process.

This method creates objects where the top and bottom layers fuse. It creates a part of uniform thickness. FFF process in 3D printing to make the filament smoother. FFF has also referred to plastic extrusion. It has a good surface quality, so prints come out smoother. Extrusion systems are designed to use a single material. You can also print more quickly with more consistent results. 

If you want to save a print job, you should constantly investigate viable remedies. When using the wrong amount of heat and pressure on your model, you can cause more harm than good.

Related: Best Nylon 3D Printer

How Does FFF Work?

When the printer starts with a rough filament, users may have difficulty printing high-quality parts. You can extrude filament from a nozzle. It can separate from the print substance.

Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) printers usually have the filament that extrudes from a nozzle separate from the material. It is printable and then melted by a heated bed or 3D printer head.Thus, the material must normally manipulate using plastic or polyamide material in the printer nozzle. These materials use flow controllers and feed blocks. 

With the nozzle of the extruder head about 4-5 centimeters above the print bed. The extruder temperature changes around 1000C (2120F). The pressure of the hot plastic applies to the surface of the extruder to make it smoother.

Some printers use heat and pressure on their extruder head to smooth out their filaments. It’s important to know that certain machines mix their filaments with plastic polymers. This polymer might lead to unexpected expenses and impacts in other sections of the print job.

Similarities between FFF and FDM

Both Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Fused Filament Fabrication(FFF) are related to some form of raw material. This material has been layered in a cross-section pattern to create a three-dimensional object with some level of spatial intelligence. These two types of 3D printers utilize a heated build platform to bend and fuse plastic filament onto a build plate.

The printer extrudes two layers of plastic while a machine removes the part. The process repeats to make larger parts removed and processed through a slicer tool. Although they are often identical, you can get Minor defects between layers sometimes. These printers have some common processes.

  •  Both methods start with a 3D model on a computer
  •  The 3D model sliced into thin horizontal layers
  • The printer has been covered with a layer
  •  The printer uses filament to create the object layer by layer
  • The object is complete when all solid layers printed
  •  4 Step Printing Process: Design > Slicing > Printing >Post-processing

Difference between FDM and FFF

Nowadays, there are two types of additive 3D printers: FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) and FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication). They both are great for prototyping or producing simple one-offs or small quantities of products. However, there are some subtle differences between them.


FDM is a subtractive manufacturing technology where an object is built layer-by-layer from a starting material. So, rather than starting with nothing then adding material, it starts with something and removes it.

On the other hand, FFF is additive manufacturing technology. With FFF, a 3D shape has created from a starting material. It has already shaped usually as a filament. The ends of the extruded filament are the places where it’s going to cut off.

Some FFF printers use a melting technology to keep the layers together. It allows for better resolution and better strength of the final product. The melting technology tends to be material and energy-demanding.


Extrusion 3D printing has two types: material and powdered base. Extrusion uses pre-shaped materials, while powdered base extrusion uses fused powder particles. Material extrusion is preferable for building up from an original shape.

Because you may quickly add extra layers without worrying about gaps. It is also easy to control temperature and flow. However, FDM is more suited for introducing new shapes.

The most common material with FDM is Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). This material is strong, affordable, and easy to print. FDM materials also have better chemical resistance and less warping than most FFF materials. It enables working with them in tough situations or producing durable consumer products easier.

Support Material

While printing, the material needs to support and hold the object from below. With FDM, you can remove and then recycle the supports. You can easily remove and recycle the support material with FFF. Because it is the same plastic as the model you want to print.

Reduction Extrusion

You need to use a print head with one extruder and a steppers motor with FDM. The speed of the FDM extruder is slow.

When the speed of the stepper motor reaches a certain threshold (called layer height), it starts to move while moving slower than Z-axis. As a result, each layer partially consists of voids, but they are not continuous. With FFF printers, many extruders print simultaneously at maximum speed. It ensures that all layers are completely continuous.


FDM is cheaper than FFF 3D printers because it uses less material. The cost depends on the quality of the printer, the printer electronics, and on materials used.

The FFF printer cost ranges from about $100 to $1000 for some models printing large objects. Many FFF printers come as kits, needing self-assembly such as filament and electronics.


FDM printers have the advantage of Printing in any size increment. The material has fed in a tube. The time to print an object depends on the size of the object and the quality of the printer.

FFF is slower than FDM because each extrusion cuts off one filament end. Some FFF 3D printers feature a rolling mechanism to remove all. But one layer from one side at a time then cut that layer before cutting another.

On the other hand, FDM can take the time to print a little more slowly. When it is time to change color, you need to disengage your extruder and change color.

Moving Speed

FFF machines use 3-axis motion that all three axes can move simultaneously. You can move left and right or up and down. Because a simple 1:1 ratio between the speed and the movement of each axis makes them more precise.

While FDM printers only move one axis at a time. That means there is a difference between printing with two different colors in two different parts of the object.

Related: 10 top-quality 3D printers for kids

FFF vs. FDM 3D Printer: Which is the Best for You?

An FFF printer creates structural objects, while an FDM printer creates mechanical structures. Overall, the two printers perform the same job and produce similar results. However, each method has minor differences that make one type better.

Let’s look at both types to see if they’re a good fit for your project.

  • High-speed Printing: FFF printers can print higher than FDM printers.
  • Cost of materials: FDM printing materials are much more expensive than 3D Printing.
  • More precise structure: The higher accuracy of the structure of the manufactured objects is possible by using additive manufacturing processes.
  • Unlimited design possibilities: FFF and FDM technology allow free-form designs and the solid infill to create intricate and complex parts.
  •  More durable: FFF or FDM 3D prints are stronger than SLA or SLS prints because of the layering used in additive manufacturing processes.
  • High precision and accuracy: Because of the nature of these processes, high precision and accuracy are possible in the printed part.
  • Limited design possibilities: FFF and FDM technology is great for very intricate designs. But it might not be so good for more generalized needs for your product.
  • Quality: Depending on the quality of your filament, you might expect a wide range of results. The material you use and the speed at which you print will undoubtedly impact the final product’s quality.
  • Slower: FFF and FDM procedures are slower than SLA and SLS 3D printing methods because they require more time to produce layers.
  • Inaccurate Printing: The accuracy of the 3D printed object can vary a lot depending on the printer and extruder used.
  • Clean up: Any residual material particles can be a major issue when working in a shop or similar environment. Because these processes are additive, cleanup is harder and takes time. However, if you work in a clean environment, it should not be too bad at all.

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q’s):

  1. Is FDM better than SLA?

FDM and SLA are both good from different angles. If you need Large or simple parts, FDM is good. SLA is good for the accuracy of tooling, complex jigs, or molds. Due to other reasons, SLA 3D printers require more maintenance than FDM 3D printers.

  1. Is FDM Printing Good?

FDM has good accuracy of dimension for large items. But if you need a small dimension, then the accuracy can hamper. It also depends on the type of 3D printer.

  1. Is FDM outdated?

HDM is not outdated. Your Home HDM printers have some restrictions for materials. Plastic or ABS can be harmful to health and provide a bad smell. PLA or the same type of product is perfect to fit with FDM.

  1. Is FDM Group legit?

FDM has a good reputation with a lot of connectivity with people. It provides less cost than its competitor. Besides saving extra bucks, it can open a lot of resources for its users.

Final Words!

Despite the popularity of filament extrusion printers, there are numerous models and technologies available. If you would like to get into 3D printing and start making things, both are great, to be honest.

That said, if you get into a head-to-head comparison of FDM Vs FFF, I’d say the FDM is suitable for prototyping or mass production. The FFF 3D printer, on the flip side, is an ideal printer for home use.


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