100 Micron Resolution on a 3D Printer

June 6th, 2012


100 micron resolution with 1mm spaced calipers.

My MakerGear Mosaic 3d printer comes with a stock 0.35mm nozzle, meaning that it extrudes a 0.35mm stream of plastic. This doesn’t mean that the layer height has to be the same because as the nozzle moves, it can squish down on the extruded plastic. In fact, the recommended layer height for my 0.35mm nozzle is 0.3mm. Squishing the plastic down is actually beneficial because it allows for better contact with the layer below.

Default layer setting

The width of the caliper is set to 1mm. With the default resolution of 0.3mm, you can see that there are roughly three layers (marked in blue) between the red lines.

The characteristic ‘ridges’ created by the layers become less obvious as layer heights decrease, giving a smoother finish. With a stock 0.35mm nozzle, I managed to print at a layer height of 100 microns, or 0.1mm. At this resolution the ridges are barely detectable with a finger, but the downside is that it takes three times as long to print. The cover photo is of a print with a layer height of 0.1mm.

0.2mm resolution

This is a print at a layer height of 0.2mm. This resolution has a good balance between print speed and surface smoothness.

Full gallery with high-resolution photos here.