While making CAD designs, do you ever wonder how faithfully they’ll be rendered on a 3D printer? Have you asked yourself how dimensionally accurate the 3D printed part would turn out?


You might be surprised at how far rapid prototyping has come in terms of accuracy. Whenever we design a part, we always factor in the actual tolerance our additive manufacturing equipment can achieve. Fortus 3D Production Systems are capable of tolerances of plus or minus 0.1 mm (0.004 in), so you can rest assured that if you design a coffee cup you will print a coffee cup.

In the machining world, being able to hit tighter tolerances with plastics is about as dependable as a bull in china shop. Even though FDM systems can’t quite match machining tolerances, it comes incredibly close considering it extrudes plastic rather than cutting it away. I would almost call this a Houdini trick, but factoring in the ability to calculate all the parameters to make this happen and virtually build any geometry while adhering to this close range of tolerances, is magic in itself.

Keep in mind whatever you can design or laser scan into an STL file, the Fortus 3D Production Systems will be able to hit the tolerances you have demanded within its range. Having confidence in the capabilities of FDM technology, you can basically do it with your eyes closed — but please at least keep them open when you’re drawing.

With the amount of questions we get in regards to tolerance, when designing parts for FDM, always factor in the dimensional tolerances of the machine. This will give you the peace of mind and expectations you deserve as a user and creator of new products.