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Choosing Print Quality for Your 3D Printer: Criteria to Consider in 2024




When exploring the vast world of 3D printing, the crucial question is what quality of print you want to achieve. The precision of your 3D printer is based on two essential criteria: the positioning of the X and Y axes, which defines horizontal precision, and the thickness of the layers, measured in microns, which determines vertical precision.







1. X and Y axis positioning









What does the resolution of a 3D printer mean?



This parameter cannot be reduced to a single number. Since printing takes place in three dimensions, it's essential to consider at least two values: laser diameter in the XY plane and Z-axis resolution (layer height). Z-axis resolution is generally easy to determine and commonly used, even if it's not always the most accurate reflection of print quality. By contrast, the most crucial XY resolution (corresponding to the laser diameter) is assessed through microscopic imaging, and is therefore not always explicitly stated in technical specifications.


The positioning of the X and Y axes is often a neglected criterion when evaluating 3D printers, whether in tests, reviews or user opinions. However, it plays an important role in the horizontal accuracy of your machine. It also complements the accuracy of a Z-axis, usually between 2 and 5 microns.


It's important to note that axis positioning isn't always emphasized by 3D printer manufacturers. However, it is something to consider, especially if you're looking for exceptional print quality. Higher Z-axis resolution can be particularly beneficial in certain designs, such as those involving organic shapes, rounded arches, small parts and complex engravings.









2. Layer thickness







Layer thickness is the most commonly considered criterion, and it greatly influences the vertical quality of your prints. Currently, the average is between 100 and 300 microns. The general rule is that the lower the number of microns, the higher the print quality of the 3D printer.


Attention to this criterion is crucial. However, it's important to bear in mind that if your 3D printer's precision is between 100 and 200 microns, you'll already have an excellent rendering. Print quality is also influenced by the movement of the print head as it deposits the layers. A stable, heavy machine that minimizes vibrations will help keep the X, Y and Z axes fixed, thus improving print quality.


In general, we recommend thicker layers, increasing resolution only when really necessary. With the right printer and a specific model, Z-axis resolution will capture the intricate details of your design.


Thinner layers often mean longer lead times, but also more artifacts and a greater risk of error. In some cases, printing models at lower resolutions (thicker layers) can result in better print quality.







Additional considerations



In addition to these main criteria, it's essential to consider other elements, such as the type of filament used, the quality of the print bed, and the overall stability of the machine. A good balance between all these factors will guarantee an optimal 3D printing experience.


In 2024, technological advances have led to a steady improvement in the precision of 3D printers. Manufacturers are now integrating innovative features to meet the growing needs of users. Before investing in a 3D printer, take the time to consider these criteria to choose the print quality that best suits your creative projects.









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