Most desktop 3D printers are designed following Cartesian geometry. CNC mills could be fitted with a hot end and extruder to stand as the basis for a 3D printer. While the mechanical structure of a 3D printer doesn't need as much rigidity or robustness as a mill or router, it does need to be accurate.

"Having precise motion control for the X/Y axis is critical to quality output for both inkjet and 3D printers," says Eric Smith, 3D Printing Market Manager for Fenner Precision. "Our FHT profile timing belts provide improved accuracy and smoother, quieter operation over traditional trapezoidal tooth profiles."

Smith says his company has transferred their many years of experience in engineering partnerships with OEMs in the traditional printing world to the rapidly developing 3D printer market.

Erick Wolf, President of Airwolf 3D in Costa Mesa, CA, is one of those who sought out Fenner in search of performance and durability for the timing belts in his machines.

"We've switched over to Fenner Precision belts in all three of our 3D printers now," Wolf said. "We get very accurate prints and don't have to worry about tensioning the belts or if they're going to work or not."

Wolf also says the fact that Fenner Precision sells to him direct – and not through a distributor – is a major plus. He says using Fenner Precision belts with their customized slitting process which supplies belts on a spool has improved Airwolf's manufacturing efficiencies.

"Now we can use only what we need," Wolf said. "It's been a great experience working with them."

Fenner Drives, a division of Fenner PLC, also offers FFF/FDM 3D printer filaments via their NinjaFlex product, a highly elastic flexible filament available in both 1.75 and 3.0 mm diameters. With their experience manufacturing power transmission components such as drives, belts and bushings, the company's history of materials development experience has played a part in their entry to the filament market.

NinjaFlex. a patent pending thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), is an elastic polymer with rubber-like properties similar to compounds commonly used for seals and molded flexible parts in daily applications. The material comes in four colors and is designed to be extruded at temperatures between 210°C and 225°C onto a platform of 30°C to 40°C.

The Fenner Group, headquartered in Hull, England, was founded over 150 years ago and employs more than 3,700 people worldwide across five continents and more than 25 manufacturing plants