Resolution is a commonly used word in the 3D printing world but seldom understood. Most people cannot tell the difference between the quality of XY and Z resolutions. So, they don’t know other basic things like layer thickness and minimum feature size suitable for them.
To produce high-quality 3D prints, there is need to learn more about 3D printer resolution and how it differs in DLP, SLA, and FDM printers. Via this blog, you will appreciate the value of your High precision 3D printer irrespective of its high costs.
Resolution vs. Minimum Feature Size
For many decades, the tech world has experienced an intense resolution battle. Television brands have lately quadrupled pixel counts to 4K from HD and now to 8K. This resolution wars emerged immediately the digital world’s popularity increased and it is not going to end soon. The printing industry is also featured as part of these primary battles for resolutions.
3D Printing Resolution
The resolution of a 3D printer determines its ability to capture the details on its print model’s three dimensions. To produce a high-quality print, you must consider the two planar 2D dimensions (X and Y) and the Z dimension. These dimensions make a 3D print model. The resolutions for Z dimensions and planar are different because they are controlled by different mechanisms. Hence, they must be treated separately. This separation is what causes the confusion regarding 3D printing resolution and the quality of print one should expect.
High Resolution 3D Printing – The Different 3D Printing Process
The high end 3D printer produces 3 dimension parts affected by two factors that include: the Z axis resolution (layer height and layer thickness) and the minimum feature size of the XY plane. You can easily determine the Z axis resolution and widely report it although it is less related to surface finish and print quality. The more essential XY resolution is measurable by a microscopic imaging. So, you cannot find it in specification sheets. It is wise to acquire a 3D printer that performs impeccably in all the 3 dimensions.
Laser SLA vs. DLP 3D Printers
Resin 3D printers like LFS, SLA, and DLP technologies provide the highest resolution for 3D printing. The basic unit for these printing processes has diverse shapes that make it challenging to match varying machines by numerical specs only. DLP printers comprise a fast and hard matrix picture element relative to the build area, while optical device-based LFS and SLA printers can focus the laser beam on any XY coordinate. That means laser beam machines with high-quality optics can reproduce a 3D part’s surface even when the laser spot size is bigger than the DLP pixel size.
What You Should Know About XY Resolution
In 3D printing, no other factor affects print quality more than the XY resolution. XY resolution is a rarely used term in printing, yet it determines the quality of output 3D printing hobbyists will get. It is also referred to as the horizontal resolution. Here is what you must know regarding this resolution in every high end 3D printer type.
- FDM 3D Printers – The smallest movement of its extruder can create a print model with a single layer.
- SLA and LFS Printers – The XY resolution in these printers is a combination of the laser’s spot size and it controls both the increments and the shaft.
- DLP 3D Printers – Comprises the picture element size and the smallest feature the projector can produce in a single layer.
According to the experts, the lower the resolution range, the higher the details captured on the 3D models. Nonetheless, the resolution numbers aren’t captured on the spec sheets, and if published the value is always inaccurate. To know your printers XY resolution’s value, you must learn and grasp the science behind it.
Understanding the Z Resolution
When studying 3D printer spec sheets, you will discover one value shows up over everything else: the Z resolution. It is known as the layer height or thickness, the vertical resolution that is used to differentiate between the early 3D printers. In the past, 3D printers struggled in interrupting the one metric linear unit barrier. Currently, the layer thickness for FDM 3D printers is sub-0.1 mm thin, while SLA and LFS printers are even more precise.
Are Thinner Layers Always Better in 3D Printing
Thinner layers will result in numerous repetitions, which suggests longer printing period. A lot of repetitions also reduce the print success from 90% to 67% if there are innumerable errors. However, with advanced skills, thinner layers will always produce impeccable 3D models. So, it is best used by experienced 3D printing hobbyists. If you are still learning 3D printing, consider using lower resolution (thick layers) to get quality prints.
In a nut shell, your level of skill in 3D printing and experience will determine if thinner layers are a suitable option for you. For learners, consider using thicker layers to produce better 3D print models.