Our 3D printing service generally recommends to individuals printing large parts looking to save some money to print in draft resolution. For parts that do not have a lot of detail in the Z-direction will not require a higher resolution.
If you were printing a block letter where only the top surface matters to you, then there will be zero difference in quality from Fine to Draft, and you can save some money.
While that is true, smaller parts that have z-direction detail may require a standard or fine quality print. We do not guarantee any detail will print that is smaller than this 0.4mm tolerance. These prints are also done on a 0.6mm diameter nozzle, meaning the tolerance in the X-Y direction is 0.3mm.
Slight imperfections may exist on the surface of parts printed in draft resolution. These imperfections can typically be removed with simple post processing methods like sanding.
Without knowing every detail about your project, we generally say that our standard resolution of 0.25mm layer heights should work to your liking. These prints have 60% more layers than our draft resolution, so you can see how this will take longer to print, which results in a higher cost.
These features are very noticeable on big curves and steep angles. As you can tell from the photo to the right – the top looks a lot cleaner the more layers there are. This is because the angle the part is required to jump on a curve each layer is reduced the smaller the layer heights.
Our 3D printing automation company also reserves the ability to print your part on a finer 0.4 mm diameter nozzle if required to reduce surface imperfections.
Our fine resolution prints are at 0.1mm layer heights, and we use a smaller 0.4mm diameter nozzle. This smaller nozzle also allows for a bit tighter 0.2mm tolerance in the z-direction.
We have to stress that fine resolution is only going to be noticeably better quality in the Z-direction (and minorly in the X/Y), but will have the same issues with overhangs and support settings as a draft resolution print (as discussed below). This scarring will not be reduced because of the increased quality.
Continuing from standard resolution – you can see that this top is even cleaner because the angles have more layers.
Finally, specific projects may require our Ultra HD Resolution. These prints take much longer to print, but are very tight on tolerances. The nozzle diameter on these prints is 0.25mm, the smallest easily available nozzle on the market for FDM printing.
The layer heights on these prints are 80 microns, or 0.08mm. This means that the tolerances are 0.08mm in the Z direction, and 0.125mm in the XY. This allows for details such as fine lettering to show that would not be clear on any other quality option.
These prints take much longer to get started (due to how thin the initial layer is) and are much more sensitive to clogging. Because of this we have a much larger startup fee involved.