How to Make 3D Printing More Accurate
High Accuracy 3D Printing
The number one goal when printing a 3D model is to produce something that looks like the design and that executes its purpose effectively. It’s one thing if you’re printing something quickly just for fun, however if you are printing intricate parts that will be puzzle-pieced together to form the larger finished product, accuracy is crucial.
Here are the steps to help you reach 100% accuracy with your 3D printing:
- Check Your Printer Accuracy
Like all tools, there is an extensive range in quality when it comes to 3D printers. Some printers are simply better than others, and like most things, you get what you pay for.
To create the most precise 3D model possible regardless of what type of printer you have, start with determining just how accurately your printer is printing. How do you do this? By using test prints or calibration cubes. Luckily the internet is full of sites (like thingiverse.com) that offer great test prints to try out.
- Choose the Right Materials
Making the right choice when it comes to the material for your 3D model can greatly increase its accuracy. For example, standard SLA resin has a higher dimensional accuracy when compared to flexible SLA resin.
PLA is a popular choice for 3D printing beginners as it is affordable, can be used for many different things, and is known for its accuracy.
- Adjust Temperature and Flow Rate
When printing your model, be on the lookout for random extrusions or blobs. These little annoyances can have a big impact on dimensional accuracy.
To get rid of these little guys, reduce your print temperature in 5-degree increments. You can also reduce your flow rate in 5% increments until it does the trick. Just be sure not to change the temperature or flow rate too much in order to avoid clogging or under-extrusion.
- Inspect Tension Belts and Linear Movement Components Different printers have different belt-tensioning processes, but regardless of printer type, it’s crucial that the belts are tight and that the drive gears can’t slip. Getting the tension just right is essential for getting accurate, high-quality results.
Dimensional inaccuracies can be a result of both loose and overly-tight belts. So if your printer can’t fix the problem for you, how can you check for tension yourself? Start by checking with your fingers to feel the belt’s tension. If you’re still not quite sure, you can check with a ruler. Still stuck? No problem, there’s an app for that!
Also be sure that the linear rods, rails, and screws are all straight. If they’re bent, replace them. If everything looks A-OK, try oiling the parts to lubricate them.
- Double Check Units and Object Size
Not surprisingly, smaller objects tend to be printed more accurately. If possible, when printing something large, print off smaller parts that can be connected later on.
This is kind of a no-brainer, but double check your units before printing! Simply put, to avoid disappointment make sure your 3D model unit and your slicer are using the same unit of measurement.
- Compensate While Designing
No matter how certain you are that you’ve done everything in your power to produce the most accurate 3D model possible, remember that most projects have a touch of inaccuracy. If you are designing your own parts to print, you especially need to take this into account.
Whether you’re printing your own design or you’re using someone else’s, always be ready to make compensations as you go along.
- Adjust Steps Per Unit
If the above steps haven’t fully addressed your printing accuracy problem, it’s possible that your printer’s firmware has the wrong steps per mm set for the axis motors.
This should be considered a last resort, and you can find printer calibration guides online to take you through the process.
The last thing to consider regarding the accuracy of your 3D printing project is post-production. Be sure that your model is cooled and removed properly.
Now get printing!
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