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3D printer resolution – what does it really mean?

A hand holding a 3D printed miniature building which shows a high 3D printer resolution

In the world of 3D printing we often speak of the 3D printer resolution of the machines. Because 3D printing is such an accurate procedure, the accuracy of 3D printers is in the size of microns. A micron is one thousandth of a millimeter, so it is extremely small. By displaying the 3D printer 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 3D printer resolution is very important, you also need to use the best material for your design. Even when you have the most accurate 3D printer 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 when we speak of the 3D printer resolution: machine-, material- and end result deviation.

1 – 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. The accuracy of our 3D printers is 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 3D printer 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 3D printer resolution is often a bit lower than is said on a manufacturer’s website. As stated, the accuracy 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.

2 – 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 shrink factor. 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 shrink factor than PLA. To ensure that warping doesn’t occur, Tractus3D printers have a heated build plate so the material does not solidify straight away. What you need to know is that every material requires a different temperature to print with. Our 3D printers also have a closed chamber, so that the warmth doesn’t escape to keep temperature fluctuations to a minimum.

3 – 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 automatically adapt the machine deviation so the end result is as desired.

Tractus3D guarantees you a high resolution

In the end, Tractus3D systems are capable of the 3D printer resolution we say they can. It is up to the user to make sure they choose the right material for the endproduct. We choose to not set you free into the wild when you buy our industrial 3D 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 industrial 3D 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 3D printer, comes great responsibility.

Items that are 3d printed on a industrial Tractus3D printer with high resolution
3D printed objects that show the high resolution of Tractus3D Delta printers

Tractus3D printers all have an incredible resolution

Tractus3D T650 Industrial 3D Printer for FFF 3D printing

T650 (S)

3D printer resolution: 0.01mm (10 micron)

Price: €1.999,-
170 diameter x 285 height
(315 center)

Tractus3D T850 industrial 3D FDM Printer for production grade FDM printing

T850 (M)

3D printer resolution: 0.01mm (10 micron)

Price: €2.499,-
280 diameter x 345 height
(405 center)

Tractus3D T1250 3D FDM printer for industrial 3D printing

T1250 (L)

3D printer resolution: 0.01mm (10 micron)

Price: €3.899,-
360 diameter x 605 height
(675 center)

Tractus 3D T650P PEEK Industrial 3D Printer

T650P (PEEK)

3D printer resolution: 0.01mm (10 micron)

Price: €7.900,-
3D printing all (also high temperature) plastics

Tractus3D T3000 3D Industrial printer for 3D printing large objects

T3000 (XL)

3D printer resolution: 0.02mm (20 micron)

Price: €34.500,-
Build volume: 1000 diameter x 1450 height
(1540 center)

Tractus3D T3500 big delta 3D Printer

T3500 (XXL)

3D printer resolution: 0.02mm (20 micron)

Price: €44.500,-
1000 diameter x 2000 height
(2100 center)