Resolution in 3D printing

In the world of 3D printing, we often speak of the resolution of the machines. Because 3D printing is such an accurate procedure, the resolution is in the size of microns. A micron is one thousandth of a millimeter, so it’s extremely small. By displaying the 3D printing resolution, the buyer has a general idea of what the printer is capable of. There is more to the story, however. 

3 types of deviation

While the machine resolution is very important, you also need to use the best material for your design. Even when you have the most accurate machine on the market, it’s possible that there’s a slight deviation. It might be too small to spot with the human eye, but it might make the difference between a functional print and one you can’t use. Therefore it’s important to know that there are three types of possible deviations in 3D printing: machine-, material- and end result deviation.

Machine deviation

Manufacturers of 3D printers can only promise that their machine resolution is what they claim it is. Therefore they advertise with this factor; as do we. Our printers have a resolution of 10 microns, which we’re very proud of. However, it is normal that there is a possible deviation on the Z axis, as gravity pulls the material down.

Therefore we differentiate the resolutions of the X and Y axes (2D) and the Z axis which makes it 3D. While the resolution of the X and Y axes is easy to pinpoint, the Z axis falls victim to gravity. When printing in height, gravity can cause more material to come out of the printer than is intended. Therefore the resolution is often a bit lower than is said on a manufacturer’s website. As stated, the resolution of Tractus3D printers is 10 microns on the X and Y axes. On the Z axis we recommend not printing below 50 microns to make sure your prints are as you desire. 

Material deviation

As the user of a 3D printer, you also have to take material deviation into account. Each material and each color of said material has its own shrinkage. This happens when the material goes from fluid to solid, otherwise known as warping. When a synthetic material cools down, it will start to contract. When it contracts too much, the print can bend up from the build plate.

Some synthetic materials shrink more than others. For instance, PC has a higher shrinkage than PLA. To ensure that warping doesn’t occur, Tractus3D printers have a heated build plate so the material doesn’t solidify straight away. What you need to know is that every material requires a different temperature to print with. Our printers also have a closed chamber, so that the warmth doesn’t escape.

End result deviation

Last, but certainly not least, is the end result deviation. Everyone purchases a 3D printer to get the most accurate print possible. Even the tiniest deviation can cause a print to not be implemented at all. The end result deviation weighs the machine- and material deviation against each other. This factor can thus be partially influenced by the manufacturer of the machine. Tractus3D printers know which materials have a certain deviation and adapt the machine deviation so the end result is as desired.

Our guarantee

In the end, our 3D printers are capable of printing the resolution we say they can. It is up to the user to make sure they choose the right material for the product. We won’t just set you free into the wild when you buy our printers. At Tractus3D we will advise you on what is and is not possible before you purchase our product, so you can get the most out of your printer. This is why our printers have profiles of all the materials, so you know which settings are right for each material. With the help of these profiles, the printer automatically chooses the right temperature and accounts for things such as shrinkage. As a wise man once said: with a great printer, comes great responsibility. 

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