Learn more about our materials, finishing services and production options.

  1. Overview
  2. Additive
  3. Cast
  4. CNC
  5. Injection
  6. Materials

Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing, also referred to as 3D printing, refers to a variety of processes which can construct a part of nearly any geometry by depositing raw material one layer at a time. This makes Additive Manufacturing ideal for one-off parts, prototyping, and low-volume production. The huge variety of technologies we offer ensures that whatever the challenge, Fast Radius has a process to meet your needs.

Carbon DLS

Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) technology is a process that uses digital light projection, oxygen permeable optics and tunable liquid resins to produce parts with excellent mechanical properties, resolution and surface finish. A photochemical process carefully balances light and oxygen to shape and produce parts with isotropic material properties. It works by projecting light through an oxygen-permeable window into a reservoir of UV-curable resin. As a sequence of UV images are projected, the part solidifies and the build platform rises. Once a part is printed, it is baked in a forced-convection oven. Heat sets off a secondary chemical reaction that gives parts their ultimate mechanical properties.
  • Wide range of production-grade materials
  • Excellent surface finish
  • Nearly isotropic parts
  • May require design optimization to account for supports
  • Ideal for parts that fit in the palm of your hand; larger parts can be challenging
Tolerance (Elastomers)
  • (X, Y): +/- 0.300 mm (+/- 0.012″)
  • (Z): +/- 0.400 mm (+/- 0.015″)  or  +/-  0.16% (whichever greater)
Tolerance (Rigid)
  • (X, Y): +/- 0.300 mm (+/- 0.012″)
  • (Z):  +/- 0.300 mm (+/- 0.012″)  or  +/- 0.16% (whichever greater)

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As one of the first production partners of HP’s Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF) technology, we deliver quick-turn prototypes all the way up to repeatable, production-grade manufacturing for end-use parts. We are continually driving innovations in post-processing for HP MJF parts, including unique coloring options, chrome plating and premium surface finishes. We currently offer HP’s PA 12 material, a versatile thermoplastic for high-density parts. PA 12 has excellent chemical resistance and is ideal for complex assemblies, housings, enclosures, and watertight applications. We have a robust roadmap of materials for the HP MJF technology. Please contact us to learn more about additional materials currently in development.
  • No support optimization required
  • High-density, low porosity parts
  • Strong chemical resistance
  • Limited materials library
  • Natural surface finish is good, but requires significant post-processing to get smooth, injection molding-like surface finish
Tolerance (all materials)
  • (X, Y): +/- 0.300 mm (+/- 0.012″) or 100 mm +/-0.3%
  • (Z):  +/- 0.400 mm (+/- 0.015″) or  > 100 mm +/- 0.4%

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Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

FDM is the most common type of additive manufacturing, with more FDM printers installed globally than any other type. Also known as Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), the FDM additive manufacturing process uses a heated nozzle to melt and extrude thermoplastics, creating one layer at a time. Given the widespread availability of these printers, FDM is often the first experience people have in the 3D printing world. This method has short lead times and low cost per part. Thanks to a variety of material choices and finishing options, FDM is ideal for creating everything from quick prototypes to the final product.

Why use FDM

Fused deposition modeling is often a cost-effective additive manufacturing method. It doesn’t offer the near-isotropic qualities of selective laser sintering, but the 3D printing process is quick and well priced.
  • Low cost per part: Light and rigid, FDM parts are quick and affordable to manufacture, making them a favorite among manufacturing companies. In fact, FDM is one of the most cost-effective methods of producing custom parts.
  • Quick turn-around: The universal advantage of additive manufacturing is that the master copy is entirely digital. With no mold or tooling step, production can move directly to printing the first line of parts. For small 3D print runs, expect quick results.
  • Wide breadth of material options: Each material used in fused deposition modeling is light yet rigid, with its own unique properties. For example, ABS-ESD7 is static-dissipative, while ULTEM™ 1010 is heat-resistant and food contact-certified.

Common applications

Due to the ease of use and widespread availability, there are many applications for fused deposition molding. Thanks to a variety of material choices and finishing options, FDM is ideal for creating everything from quick prototypes to final parts. The quick, versatile 3D printing method plays a key role in many industries including automobiles and children’s toys.
  • Jigs and fixtures: FDM is ideal for producing hanging jigs and fixtures. With a solid, inflexible exterior and sturdy but hollow interior, FDM parts are practical and reliable without causing undue stress to the surrounding framework.
  • Prototyping: The wide variety of chemical-resistant, heat-resistant, and biocompatible materials makes FDM ideal for testing new equipment. In addition, the quick turn-around time and low cost per part enables the 3D printing of multiple prototypes in quick succession.
  • Small, complex parts: When a part is too complex for conventional manufacturing methods, or requires too much post-production detailing, fused deposition modeling provides an opportunity to keep costs down for these complex parts.

Key advantages of FDM

  • Low cost per part: Fused deposition modeling’s popularity comes from its price per print. If the demands are within the parameters of FDM’s capabilities, it is most likely the right choice for the job.
  • Lightweight lattice structure: In most cases, FDM parts are printed with solid shells and lattice infills. This keeps the material light while also cutting down on material costs. The lattice infill is designed to support the external structure of the object without adding needless weight.
  • Quick turn-around for small batches: As FDM parts must be printed one at a time, this process is not suitable for large-scale production. However, when it comes to small batches, FDM is one of the quickest options available.
  • Familiar materials: Many of the materials used in FDM are commonly used in other processes, so engineers are comfortable with their physical and mechanical properties.
  • Aerospace certification: ULTEM, a thermoplastic available for FDM, is currently the only additive material certified for use in aircrafts. 
  • Mid-print hardware insertion: With FDM, washers, nuts, bolts, and threaded rods can be inserted mid-build by technicians without any secondary operations.
  • Print size: FDM printers have large build volumes relative to other additive technologies, so the technology can create bigger parts.

Key consideration and challenges with FDM

  • Anisotropic qualities: During the 3D printing process, the new layer of molten thermoplastic remelts the surface of the previous layer and enables bonding. As an effect of this process, the bond strength is always somewhat weaker than the base strength of the material, resulting in decreased strength in the Z plane. Consideration by the designer and operator help manage this inherent feature of FDM.
  • Lower dimensional accuracy: FDM objects are 3D printed layer by layer, causing the material to cool and shrink unevenly. Warping is most common in large flat areas or thin protruding areas. This can be managed and mitigated by controlling temperatures and adherence of the part to the platform, which is standard practice at Fast Radius.
  • Temporary support structures: While an FDM part is being printed, any overhangs are given additional supports that must be removed in post-processing. Fast Radius prefers using dissolvable support material in order to prevent damage to the finished product.
For an even structure free from warping or anisotropy, consider urethane casting.

Fused deposition modeling design guidelines

An FDM design must include dimensions, layout, materials or material parameters, surface finish, and any specific considerations for the design. You must note the minimum feature size and wall thickness for each material.

Surface finishes for fused deposition modeling

As an additive manufactured product, an FDM object has a surface finish of fine, layered lines. If this texture doesn’t affect the object’s ability to perform its designed function, it can be used as-is. If a specific finish is needed, there are several quality options to achieve this.

Epoxy coating

A transparent or colored layer of epoxy can be applied to the FDM object’s surface for additional resistance to chemicals and fatigue. Epoxy is lightweight and moisture-resistant, making it ideal for lining fixtures in damp settings.

Vapor smoothing

The layer lines unique to additive manufacturing can be polished into a smooth, uniform texture using vapor smoothing. Depending on the material used, the end result varies significantly in opacity.


FDM material is first sanded and then painted in any color to match the design of the completed product. 

Cold welding

Two fused deposition modeling pieces can be sealed together using a vacuum instead of heat or adhesive, ensuring a lack of warping from the process.
  • ABS-M30
  • ABS-ESD7
  • ABSi
  • ABS-M30i
  • ASA
  • PC
  • PC-ABS
  • PC-ISO


  • ULTEM™ 1010
  • ULTEM™ 9085
  • ULTEM™ 9085 CG
  • Nylon 12
  • Nylon 12CF
  • Antero 800NA
  • Antero 840CN03Z
  • TPU 92A Elastomer
Tolerance (all materials)
  • (X, Y): +/- 0.300 mm (+/- 0.012″)  or  > +/- 0.100 mm (+/- 0.04″) inch over inch
  • (Z): 3x layer height


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SLA (Stereolithography) uses a laser to create parts in a pool of UV curable resin by selectively solidifying the desired layer on an inverted platform. The laser can be focused very finely, so this method can produce an exceptional surface finish, but at a lower strength than parts made with FDM. It should be considered during the design phase of any project utilizing SLA that any parts made with this process will be broken down by UV light over time. SLA is ideal for producing high-resolution parts with a limited lifetime and mechanical loads.
  • Excellent resolution
  • Great surface finish
  • Limited strength
  • UV degrades parts over time

Accura 25, Accura Xtreme, Accura 60, Accura ABS Black, Somos® NeXt, Somos® PerFORM, Somos® ProtoGen 18420, Somos® WaterShed XC 11122

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Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) operates by using a high-powered laser to sinter the surface of a powder bed in a two-dimensional pattern, then applying another layer of powder to build up the part in the vertical direction. It has the ability to be used with a wide variety of materials and can produce fairly good resolution and surface finish. The strength is better than SLA, but slightly worse than traditional manufacturing methods. SLS is ideal for producing parts with a good surface finish that must still bear a mechanical load.
  • Good surface finish
  • Uniform strength
  • Strong
  • Porous
  • Low speed

Nylon 12 PA, Nylon 12 GF

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PolyJet is a process that sprays a layer of UV-curable resin onto a gel matrix, which is dissolved when manufacturing has been completed. This method can have an extremely low layer thickness, producing some of the best surface finishes available in 3D printing, but has lower strength than other processes. Unlike SLA, different regions of a part made with PolyJet can have varying colors or mechanical properties if the printer has the capability. Parts made with PolyJet are susceptible to the same degradation as SLA over their lifetimes; this makes PolyJet appropriate for making parts where the only requirement is the highest possible resolution, with strength and longevity secondary.
  • Excellent surface finish
  • High resolution
  • Can print in multiple colors and materials
  • Low strength
  • Parts have UV sensitivity

VeroWhitePlus, Digital ABS RGD5160-DM, VeroBlue, VeroGray, VeroClear, FullCure RGD720, RGD450, PolyJet Flex & Over-Mold, PolyJet TangoPlus

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Laser Powder Bed Fusion is similar to SLS but uses metal powders as the raw material. This places it in the eclectic category of additive manufacturing methods which can produce metallic products with tensile strength comparable to CNC machining. This is the process to choose if your project requires metal parts which geometries or economics prohibit CNC Manufacturing.
  • Strength
  • Excellent mechanical properties
  • Good surface finish
  • High strain to failure compared to CNC machining
  • Lower bending strength compared to CNC machined parts
  • Highest cost of listed methods

Stainless Steel 17-4 PH, Stainless Steel 316L, Aluminum AlSi10Mg, Nickel Alloy 625, Nickel Alloy 718, Titanium Ti64, Cobalt Chrome CoCrMo

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Below is a quick reference for comparing each of the additive manufacturing processes.

Carbon DLS Low High Excellent Production-ready
HP MJF Low Moderate-High Moderate-High Production-ready
FDM Low-Moderate Low Rough-Good Limited
SLA Moderate Low Excellent Limited
SLS Moderate Moderate Good Limited
POLYJET Moderate Low Excellent Unsuitable
DMLS High High Moderate-Excellent Production-ready

One-stop Manufacturing

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Fast Radius Virtual Warehouse

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Additive Manufacturing Hosted Capacity

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Additive Exploration Workshop

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Application Launch Sprint

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Application Launch Program® (ALP)

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