AUTHORED BY
Andrew Cross
DATE
04/14/2015
CATEGORY
WORD COUNT
533
REV
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REFERENCE IMAGE 3D Print Resolution Comparisons
NOTES
  1. Prints are shown at 0.30 mm, 0.20 mm, 0.10 mm, and 0.05 mm layer heights
  2. Mesh errors in the model are evident in the print
SOCIAL REACH

Yesterday, a member of a forum I frequent asked if there was anywhere where to compare pictures of models that were printed at a different resolution. Not knowing of any (though I assume they’re out there), I decided to do my own quick-reference comparison piece. The question was posed in reference to this Hand of the King pin modeled by Hasier Goitia, so I used it as the subject of my experiment.

render_preview_featured

Methodology

Before getting to the pictures, I want to clearly define my workflow. I downloaded the model, scaled it to 10 cm long, sliced it with the standard options provided by Simplify3D, then printed with my Flashforge Creator. I’ll touch on the importance of this in a later, but keep in mind that I didn’t post-process the model at all.

My slicer, Simplify3D, offers 3 auto-configured print qualities: Fast, Medium, and High. There are a number of differences between these options, but the main setting of interest here is the Primary Layer Height. If you’re not familiar with layer height, it’s essentially how thick your slicer (in this case, Simplify3D) will cut each layer of the model.

1-S3D-settings-screen

Layer Height Principle

Let’s use my illustration below to demonstrate the layer height principle. Imagine we’re working with a triangular prism (pyramid), and we’re looking at a perfect cross section of the model. That’s illustrated in red. The black triangles show how the slicer would resolve this solid model into layers. It’s obvious how the height of each layer impacts the resolution of the print. The top right figure shows a sliced part that’s roughly approximated with just 4 layers; each layer is 0.40 mm tall. Sliced like this, the model would print very quickly, but it wouldn’t really look like a pyramid. The bottom left figure doubles the resolution by printing 0.20 mm tall layers. It would take 8 of these layers to build up the full pyramid. It’s easy to imagine how this might take longer to print, but the resulting print would look much more like a pyramid. The same benefits (better representation of the model) and downsides (longer print time) hold for the bottom right figure.

2-Illustration_of_layer_height

Resolution Results

As I mentioned, the 3 auto-configurations that Simplify3D offers are Fast, Medium, and High. These correspond to layer heights of 0.30, 0.20, and 0.10 mm respectively (you may also come across these heights expressed as microns, in which case the layers would be 300, 200, and 100 microns thick). I also manually adjusted the settings to produce a model with a layer height of 0.05 mm (50 microns). This model is actually a good candidate to see the differences between layer heights, as the hand and sword both feature shallow contours. The results are below, without having removed the prints from the rafting.

3D print resolution comparison

3D print resolution example at 50 microns

3D print resolution example at 100 microns

3D print resolution example at 200 microns

3D print resolution example at 300 microns

3D print resolution example at 50 microns

3D print resolution example at 100 microns

3D print resolution example at 200 microns

3D print resolution example at 300 microns

3D print resolution example at 50 microns

3D print resolution example at 100 microns

3D print resolution example at 200 microns

3D print resolution example at 300 microns

Conclusion

The perceptive reader may have noticed some strange disconnects on the printed models. In fact, this is why I chose to not remove them from the rafting. The .stl that was used to produce these prints wasn’t particularly packaged at “print” quality per se. Simplify3D is capable of making up for some of these shortcomings when slicing, but it can’t overcome them all. I’ll discuss how to go about cleaning up this particular model in a future post.
mesh_errors

Profile picture of Andrew standing at the Southern-most point in the United States.
Andrew Cross

Andrew is currently a mechanical R&D engineer for a medical imaging company. He enjoys good food, motivated people, and road biking. He has still not completely come to terms with the fact he will never play center field for the Kansas City Royals.

  • Hi Andrew, Firstly, thank you for this informative article!!
    I’m wondering if you had to modify your printer in order to go down to 50microns resolution?
    Thank you in advance 🙂

    • Andrew Cross

      Hi Nat! Actually, my Flashforge Creator (dual) is pretty close to stock. I’ve added some acrylic to the case to enclose it, and flashed it with Sailfish 7.5, but that’s about it. I honestly haven’t tested it out, but Flashforge lists their specs as being capable of 0.0025mm precision on the Z axis, so it /may/ be able to go down even more.