Way to enhance your 3D printed part surface quality

In general, there are 3 ways to enhance the 3D printed surface quality for professional & industrial 3D printing:

  1. Increase the resolution when extracting 3D printing model
  2. Reduce the layer thickness
  3. Rotate the model to print as close to vertical as possible

210902 fabWeaver_Main logo

 

There are many different practical ways to improve the overall 3D printing quality. In our last post, we discussed how we can improve the printing quality through printer and material selection.

In this post, let's see how we can improve the quality of the printing surface by modifying the 3D model when we are 3D printing a part. 

 

1. Increase resolution when extracting CAD data

The CAD data you designed must be exported / extracted to another format file extension for 3D printing.

File extensions such as STL, OBJ, and PLY are some of the international standard file formats that are being deployed for 3D printing of CAD data. 

During this CAD data extracting process, the surface of the designed CAD data is being expressed by breaking into triangular faces (mesh).

All of the CAD programs have a resolution setting which can be adjusted during the extracting process, and the user can decide how finely the data surface is being split.

해상도차이 type A530 표면품질The extraction setting makes a difference on surface quality even with the same CAD model

 

As seen above, the higher the resolution setting, the smoother the surface will become.

However, if the number of triangular faces (mesh) increase with an excessively high resolution setting, the file size will also increase, and the speed of the slicer processing will be slowed down.

So, depending on the shape of the model that is being printed, the user needs to extract the file at an appropriate resolution setting, with a balanced level that is neither too low or too high.

 

2. Reduce the layer thickness

Most (FFF) 3D printers are stacking layer by layer, each one adding to the height.
Therefore, when the user is printing an incline shape, the ends of the material stacked up for each layer remain in the shape like a staircase.
The user might then smooth that staircase shape surface by post-processing it with sandpaper, but the user can also make the surface smoother by making a simple printing setting change: reducing the layer thickness.

산업용 3D 프린터 표면 품질 향상type A530Layer thickness comparison for the same incline shape (left: 0.5mm, right: 0.25mm)

 

If the user reduces the layer thickness using the setting in the slicer, it can reduce the length that protrudes from the incline in the form of a step by dividing the incline more tightly.

In this way, the user can expect a relatively smoother surface quality.

However, this could slow down the printing speed if the layer thickness is being significantly reduced, so the printing time should be considered before changing the layer thickness.

 

Weaver3 Studio Quality SettingLayer height can be adjusted from the user mode of the Weaver3 Studio

 

 3. Increase incline angle

Sometimes, reducing the layer thickness to increase the quality of the printing surface will take a long time for the overall printing job, which is disadvantageous for productivity.

As an alternative, the user can increase the surface quality by adjusting the printing direction and angle of the model.

If the angle of the incline is increased, the length protruding from the incline is being reduced even with the same layer thickness.

So, a smooth surface quality can be achieved by rotating the exterior side of the model as close to 90° as possible when 3D printing.

산업용 3D 프린터 표면 품질 향상type A530Relief of stair step protrusion by slope angle (left: 45°, right 70°)

 

Of course, post-processing such as sanding, polishing, and painting may be necessary to achieve a 3D printing output with a high quality finish.

However, the methods listed about can also improve the surface quality, these enhancing methods would help to make post-processing easier and more efficient than ever.

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