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For the majority of makers and hobbyists, 3D printing takes the form of desktop machines that use the process known as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) — or Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) depending on who you ask.
In a nutshell, FDM involves a thread of plastic material being fed into a heated metal block with a nozzle, which then melts and is extruded in a predetermined layout. This traced path is repeated, stacking incrementally until a solid 3D object is formed.