Creatz3D Fun Fact Series #1 – FDM and FFF: Interchangeable But Different?

FDM Printed Part (green), FFF Printed Part (brown)

Welcome to the first installment of Creatz3D Fun Fact Series!

Starting from January 2021, we will be posting fun facts about everything you needed to know about 3D printing.

To kick it off, we’ll go all the way back to the beginning – a common question for those stepping into the world of 3D printing and additive manufacturing or already using it:

Is FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) the same as FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication)?

Based on a Statista 2020 survey, the most commonly used 3D printing technology is fused deposition modeling (FDM), with 67 percent of respondents utilizing this technology in-house.

Based on a Statista 2020 survey

So where does FFF come into the picture?

Same Process, Interchangeable Terms

To break it down, the two are similar in process where a thermoplastic filament is heated and then extruded through a nozzle onto a build plate layer by layer. The bigger the print, however, the longer time it will take to finish the print.

So why do they have different names? This boils down to a legal trademark issue really, in that FDM is trademarked by Scott Crump, the founder of the 3D printer manufacturer, Stratasys. Shortly after inventing the process, Crump trademarked the term in 1991 so that it can only be used for Stratasys printers.

Where it all begun

Things began to change in 2009 when the patents started expiring with other manufacturers trying to get on board. To avoid legal constraints, members of the RepRap Project, an initiative that was started to develop low-cost 3D printers, coined the term FFF for the process but without using the expensive, industrial-grade infrastructure.


Rounding up, they work the same way in terms of how they work. FDM is a trademark of Stratasys while FFF is un-trademarked. So, if it’s a Stratasys machine, it’s FDM for you, otherwise it’s a FFF machine.

Stay tuned as we reveal the world of difference in results when it come to FDM and FFF 3D printers.

Learn More about FDM Materials


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