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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.

All of the business end of handling the material, melting it and spitting it out happens in an assembly of different parts that (to some folks) are together known as the extruder. While not that complex mechanically, there are still plenty of parts that, in a specific sequence, allow your 3D printer to extrude plastic.