A new study prepared over a 52-week period by England's Loughborough University offers interested readers the university experts' evaluate the mechanical properties over time of polycarbonate and ABS plastic parts made with the Fused Deposition Modeling process. The evaluation included testing to determine how the parts stand up over time to heat, cold, moisture, and dryness.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is an additive manufacturing process; the company Stratasys (Minneapolis, MN) patented and owns the process. The process can be used to create functional prototypes and manufactured goods directly from a 3D CAD program, using high-performance industrial thermoplastics.
The clear trend in additive manufacturing is that it continues to be used for prototype manufacturing, as it has since the late 1980's, but increasingly is seen as a means to produce low-volume bespoke parts - and so it is moving into territory fought over by plastics processors, metalworking shops and other "standard" manufacturers.