3D printer resolution – what does it really mean?
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 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 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.
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. 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 times 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.
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 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.
Our guarantee about our 3D printer 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.
0.01mm (10 micron)
Plug and play
(including all high temperature materials)