3D Print Quality Standards at SD3D | 3D Printing Tolerance and Resolution
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3D Printing Quality Options

By December 15, 20163D Printing, Education, Tutorial

Back here with another tutorial video. Today we are going to go over the various 3D print quality options offered here at SD3D. Defining 3D printing quality can vary by supplier, so it is very important to understand what these 3D printing resolutions mean before ordering 3D prints.

How is 3D Print Quality Measured?

When we say quality we are referring to the tolerances involved.  These tolerances are determined by two factors: the height of each layer and the diameter of the nozzle being used.  The smaller the nozzle and the lower the layer height, the higher the quality.

At SD3D we have standardized our quality options into four choices: Draft, standard, fine, and ultra HD resolution.  These terms were arbitrarily named by our company and refer to the layer heights and nozzle diameter used.

UHD, Fine, Standard and Draft Resolutions Explained

As we went over in our “Designing for 3D printing video”, we use three different nozzle diameters: 0.6mm for draft resolution, 0.4mm for standard and fine resolution, and 0.25mm for ultra HD resolution.  .  Our draft resolution has layer heights of 0.4mm.  This means that the printer will not print any detail in the Z-direction that is thinner than this.  Standard has layer heights of 0.25mm, fine 0.1mm, and Ultra HD 0.09mm.  

These 3D print quality options drastically change the amount of time required to produce your parts.  An Ultra HD resolution print will literally take 10 – 15x as long as the exact same print in draft.  There are roughly 4.5 times as many layers in ultra HD, and the nozzle is less than half the diameter.  As you can see from the video, this is a split screen of an einstein bust printed in Draft resolution on the left, and ultra HD on the right, filmed at the same speed.

This not only leads to a longer print, but one that has a higher probability failing, which are both factors that lead to a more expensive print.  A smaller nozzle also leads to more clogging, leading to more maintenance.  

3D Printing Lettering and Thin Walled Parts

Aside from tolerances, lettering and thin walls are affected by the quality.  A printer will only print walls and lettering that is at least as thick as the nozzle.  So if you design a part that has walls that are 0.4mm thick, and you choose draft quality, those walls will not print.  This allows for much finer detail as we move smaller in nozzle diameter.  

Recommended Interface Clearance on Mating Parts

Finally – the clearances involved with printing will be determined based off of the quality option you choose.  Since 3D printing is additive, it tends to err on the side of more material than less material.  This means that if you design two parts that were meant to perfectly mate together, they will not.  We describe this tolerance as ½ the diameter of the nozzle.

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To continue reading about 3D print quality assurance at SD3D please visit our 3D printing quality assurance page.