3D Printing Resolution Tests with Replicator 2

This is a post inspired by the Knight piece resolution tests on  Joe’s Makerbot blog. And also because we needed to get samples of the physical quality of 3D printouts done at different resolutions.

For this test, we have sliced the knight piece from SteedMaker’s Chess Set to have some comparability with what Joe has done, using MakerWare.

Unfortunately, one major difference which we released at too late into these test were that we had inadvertantly sliced the models in MakerWare with rafts and supports, so it actually made the printouts significantly longer than if we would have printed out without the rafts (we may do another run of these test later using RepG). But within this set of test prints, the relative times and qualities should be quite telling.

Here are the other settings used:

Infill: 15%
Number of Shells: 2
Feedrate: 80
Travel Feedrate: 150Print Temperature: 230C

So, here are the pieces which we have printed (and the respective print times). Do note that there still are some remanents of the rafts and suuports which we have not fully cleaned up as the point was largely to see the relative quality difference:

0.40 mm Layer Height – 25 Mins 30 Sec


This is MakerWare’s default low resolution setting, which is incidentally the same size at the nozzle diameter we are using. This obviously then lends itself to churning out the filament in much more cylindrical form as compared to higher leading to pieces with very coarse finishing which maybe is only good for churning out quick pieces to see how they fit or test the scale of things.

0.35 mm Layer Height – 30 Mins 24 Sec


The 0.35mm print is slightly slower but shows a much better surface quality than the 0.40mm print, though the layers are still very evident. For coarse printing of smaller objects, we may actually try at this level of resolution but hardly ever at other times (as we shall explain shortly)

0.30 mm Layer Height – 31 Mins 54 Sec


Running down to 0.30mm saw an insignificant reduction in comparison to the quality improvement. Being so close to the default medium resolution of 0.27mm makes it almost a medium resolution print in itself and as we go further down the line, the quality differences between the 0.30mm, 0.27mm and 0.25mm are so slight that if we mixed up the pieces, it would almost be impossible to differentiate.

0.27 mm Layer Height – 35 Mins 11 Sec


This is MakerWare’s default medium resolution setting, which legend has it, was mathematically derived at the optimal (weird numbered) layer height for medium resolutioun prints. All we know is that this figure pops up with we click on Medium in Makerware which is why it’s tested out here. Typically, most of our prints are currently being done at this level of resolution though, though the further ramping up of resolution of the 3d prints may make us change our minds

0.25 mm Layer Height – 37 Mins 00 Sec


Slight 0.02 mm increase = slight quality increase with slight time increase. Nothing much to see here, moving along …

0.20 mm Layer Height – 35 Mins 11 Sec


Increasing the print resolution higher to 0.20mm gives a much better albeit slower finish than the standard 0.27mm medium default. Small features like the ear also turned out nicer though it chipped off due to some mishandling on our part (heh). We think we are going to be using this level of resolution as our medium setting.

0.15 mm Layer Height – 59 Mins 32 Sec


Pushing the limit futher to 0.15mm layer height gives an almost production level of detail to the piece. Sadly, because we won’t be able to make use of acetone to do smoothing of the PLA pieces, this maybe the level for high which we will be printing in most of the time to get the kind of smoothness and details we need. Looking at the curves on this knight piece show that the contours are all very well shaped and defined.

0.10 mm Layer Height – 88 Mins 08 Sec


This is MakerWare’s default high resolution setting and takes an inordinately long amount of time. Granted we did have rafts and support in this model but by and large, the quality increase over the 0.15mm resolution as compared to the additional time taken makes it really not worth the while most of the time. Only reserving this for maybe smaller pieces or stuff which requires this level of details.


Graph wise, this is what the various levels of resolution took:


We’ve actually also sliced the exact piece in ReplicatorG so perhaps when we do come around to printing those out, that will be a post for another day =)

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