Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 16

3D Printing Resolution
50 microns
Grey Resin
6 hours 10 min
100 microns
Grey Resin
3 hours 53 min
160 microns
Grey Resin
2 hours 15 min
In Formlabs PreForm software, users have the choice of different layer thicknesses. Parts in Grey Resin can now be printed in the following layer heights: 160,
100, 50, and 25 microns. For engineers, printing in 160 microns will accelerate the iteration process, going from design to printed part in even less time.
lution photos for analysis. Using ImageJ
- the National Institutes of Health's
(NIH) free image analysis software - we
first scaled the pixels of the images and
then measured the actual widths of the
lines printed. We collected more than 50
data points per line width to eliminate
measuring errors and variability. In total,
we printed and analyzed three models
on two different printers.
As the print's line width decreases
from 200 to 150 microns, the ideal values
are within the 95% confidence interval
of the measured value. As the intended
line widths get smaller than 150
microns, the measured interval starts to
deviate significantly from the ideal. This
means that the printer can reliably produce
XY features as small as 150
microns, about the size of a human hair.
The Form 2's minimum feature size
on the XY plane is about 150 microns -
only 10 microns larger than its 140micron
laser. The minimum feature size
can never be smaller than the laser spot
size and there are many factors that
affect this value: laser refraction, microscopic
contaminants, resin chemistry,
and much more. Considering the printer's
entire ecosystem, a 10-micron difference
is nominal. Not every 3D printer's
published resolution holds true, so it's a
good idea to do plenty of research
before choosing the one that's right for
your project. If your work calls for prints
with intricate details, look for a printer
with an XY resolution that's backed by
measurable data, not just a number.
Understanding Z Resolution
When you read 3D printer spec
sheets, you'll see one value show up
16
Cov
more than any other: Z resolution. Also
known as layer thickness or layer
height, the vertical resolution was the
first major numerical differentiation
among early 3D printers. Early ma -
chines struggled to break the 1-mm barrier
but now layer thicknesses on FDM
3D printers can be sub-0.1-mm thin,
while LFS and SLA 3D printers are even
more precise.
Formlabs 3D printers support layer
thicknesses between 25 to 300 microns,
depending on the material. This selection
of layer heights gives you the ideal
balance of speed and resolution. The
main question is: what is the best layer
thickness for your print?
Are Smaller Layer Thicknesses
Always Better?
High-resolution 3D printing comes
with a tradeoff. Thinner layers mean
more repetitions, which in turn means
longer times; printing at 25 microns vs
100 usually increases the print time
four-fold. More repetitions also mean
more opportunities for something to
go wrong. For example, even at a
99.99% success rate per layer, quadrupling
the resolution lowers the chance
of print success from 90% to 67% if one
assumes that a failed layer causes total
print failure.
Does higher resolution (thinner layers)
result in better prints? Not always. It
depends on the model to be printed and
the 3D printer's XY resolution. In general,
thinner layers equal more time, artifacts,
and errors. In some cases, printing
models at lower resolutions (i.e., thicker
layers) can actually result in higher-quality
prints.
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When Thinner Layers Don't Help
Thinner layers are typically associated
with smoother transitions on diagonals,
which leads many users to generalize
and push Z resolution to the limits. But
what if the model consists mostly of vertical
and horizontal edges, with 90degree
angles and few diagonals? In
those cases, additional layers don't im -
prove the quality of the model.
The issue is compounded if the XY resolution
of the printer in question is not
perfect and " colors outside the lines "
when drawing the outside edges. More
layers mean more mismatched ridges on
the surface. While the Z resolution is
higher, the model will look like it is of significantly
lower quality in this case.
When to Choose Higher Z
Resolution
There are times when you want higher
resolution. Given a printer with good XY
resolution and a model with intricate features
and many diagonal edges, dialing
down the thickness of the layers will yield
a much better model. In addition, if that
model is short (200 or fewer layers),
upping the Z-axis resolution can really
improve the quality. Certain designs benefit
from a higher Z resolution: organic
forms, rounded arches, small embossings,
and intricate engravings.
As a general guideline, err on the side
of thicker layers and only bump up the Z
resolution when completely necessary.
With the right printer and a certain type
of model, higher Z resolution will capture
the intricate details of your design.
This article was contributed by Formlabs,
Somerville, MA. For more information, visit
http://info.hotims.com/79415-121.
Tech Briefs, July 2021
http://info.hotims.com/79415-121 http://www.techbriefs.com http://www.abpi.net/ntbpdfclicks/l.php?202107TBNAV

Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021

Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - Intro
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - Sponsor
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - Cov1
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - Cov2
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 1
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 2
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 3
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 4
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 5
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 6
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 7
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 8
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 9
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Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 11
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Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - Cov3
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - Cov4
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