Editor’s Note: When Doug sent me his blog post I had two immediate reactions. First was a quick email back to him, “I like it.” His response came back in under a minute, “Really? Do you really? Really?” He then meandered to my desk, where I told him the post didn’t sound Doug-like enough. He groaned, “I knowww.” The extra w’s in the “know” were heavily implied.
This is to say, the blog post that follows doesn’t showcase the 3D printed dog Doug printed on a whim last week. Or the way he eats Larry’s Deli for lunch three times a week and goes on “sandwich fueled monologues.”
The 3D printed dog, for reference
Instead, it shows the Doug who stops by work on the weekend to start printers, the Doug majored in mechanical engineering.
Without further ado, here is the blog post that I was sent.
Layer By Layer Perfection
The words “precision” and “tolerance” are thrown around a great deal in engineering and manufacturing. These words are critical to almost every aspect of a project and always need to be maintained.
Precision in 3D printing refers to how closely a printed object matches its computer-generated design. The degree of precision directly impacts the accuracy of the model as a whole.
So, what contributes to precision in 3D printing?
One of the primary aspects of precision in 3D printing is the layer height, which is the thickness of each layer of material deposited by the 3D printer. Smaller layer heights result in finer details. The tradeoff is longer print times.
There are a few things I consider when talking about layer height with Purple Porcupine customers:
1. What is the geometry of the part? Are there complex features, dips and curves?
2. Where will layer height impact the precision of the part? Is it in critical areas?
3. Is our standard layer height for the technology good enough?
The speed at which the printer’s nozzle moves across the build plate affects precision. Slower print speeds generally lead to better accuracy, but it can significantly increase the time required to complete a print.
Directly in line with print speed is the mechanisms behind the print head movement. FDM for example, usually implements a belt drive system to move the print head every which way. Now this works just fine for most print scenarios, but some higher performance printers incorporate a lead screw instead of the belt. A lead screw increases print precision over the belt drive, as the flexible component of the belt is replaced by a solid component, therefore even minuscule slack in the belt is completely removed.
The size of the nozzle on the 3D printer’s extruder plays a crucial role in precision. Smaller nozzles can produce finer details, while larger nozzles are faster but may sacrifice some level of detail.
This is printer and technology dependent. A hobbyist machine will have different capabilities than an industrial machine. The “most precise” printing on an SLA machine will be different than the “most precise” printing on an FDM machine.
The type of material used for 3D printing can impact precision. Different materials have different properties, such as shrinkage rates and thermal behaviors, which can affect the final print’s accuracy.
1. What is the purpose of the part? Is it a prototype? Is it end-use?
2. Are there size or capability requirements that would dictate a specific technology or material?
Calibration and Maintenance
Regular calibration and maintenance of the 3D printer are essential to ensure precision. Calibration ensures that the printer’s components are correctly aligned, and maintenance prevents issues that could lead to print errors.
At Purple, we’re lucky enough to have an in-house service team, that performs maintenance for Purple Platypus customers, as well as the printers we have in our Tech Center.
If you’re interested in learning more about what technologies Purple has to offer, or have a specific model you’d like to print, you can request a quote here.
Meet Doug Simsarian
Meet Purple Porcupine Sales Engineer, Doug Simsarian. Doug focuses on helping customers find the right additive solution for their prototyping and production needs. His favorite part about working at Purple is the diverse projects and exciting applications.
Out of the office, Doug enjoys playing tennis, basketball, biking, and 3D printing stuff. If you haven’t had the chance to meet Doug yet, connect with him on LinkedIn or stop by our office and say hi!