How Many Microns Are There In 3D Printing? Do They Matter?


A micron simply refers to a unit of measurement like millimeters and centimeters commonly used in the field of 3D printing.

Microns usually indicate the height of an individual layer of a 3D printer and a 3D print. They are basically numbers used to determine the quality and resolution of an object being printed.

If you are operating within the 3D printing space, you need to be very updated with microns measurements. (Source) This article will equip you with the key facts you require to enhance your knowledge of microns and 3D printing resolution. 

What is the recommended number of microns for 3D printing? 100 microns which is equivalent to a 0.1 mm layer height, is recommended as a good resolution for 3D printing. It is fairly on the thinner side of a 3D printed object since the default micron measure is 0.2mm or 200 microns.

3D Printing Is Here To Stay

Basically, a 3D printer with fewer microns has a higher resolution compared to a 3D printer with a higher number of microns. For a good print outcome, also check out What Is Vat Polymerization In 3D Printing? SLA & DLP : Pros and Cons

100 Vs 50 Microns in 3D Printing

Let us have a look at the comparison between these two categories.

  • Bridging Performance

Stringing or outcroppings is one of the key problems with 3D printing. The layer height and resolution do have an impression on it. 3D prints at 100 microns are more liable to have bridging issues compared to prints at 50 microns.

Poor bridging in 3D prints results in poor quality, therefore it is advisable that you fix your bridging issues for better quality.

  • Smoothness and Clarity

If you want to see a clear difference in 3D print clarity and smoothness, try printing one object at 100 microns and another one at 50 microns. A 3D print with fewer microns and higher resolution has fewer visible lines since they are smaller.

Always ensure you carry out regular maintenance of your printer since 3D printing with fewer microns requires a perfect 3D printer. For more details on this, check out our post on How To Get Rid Of Lines In 3D Printing, Flow Rate and Homing in 3D printing.

  • Time Taken to Print

The difference between 3D printing at 100 microns and 50 microns is twice as several layers required to be extruded, basically doubling the time taken to print. You must balance the quality of 3D print and other settings with the time required to print. 

For a more complete idea on 3d printing time, check out our post on How Long Does it Take to 3D Print an Object at Home?

What is a good thickness for 3D printing?

One of the key vital considerations you need to take when designing parts for your 3D printing is the thickness of the wall. While 3D printing enhances simpler prototyping than ever-both in terms of speed and cost, you cannot disregard Design for Manufacturing (DFM) completely.

 Wall thickness recommendations for 3D printing

There is a limitation to how thin you can design a part feature for 3D printing. And therefore, enters our 3D printing wall thickness recommendations.

Wall Thickness Recommendations

There is a limit to how thin a part can be designed for your 3D printing. Under recommended minimum, a thinner printing part may have higher chances of failure.  

MATERIAL THICKNESS RECOMMENDATION
MATERIALPLAABSNYLONVEROWHITETRANS-PARENTABS-LIKERUBBER-LIKEVIS-
CLEAR
RECOMMENDED Minimum thickness (mm)1.51.51.51.01.01.02.01.0
ABSOLUTE Minimum thickness (mm)0.80.80.80.60.60.60.80.6
The recommended minimum thickness for every material.

The table above shows the recommended minimum thickness for every material, in addition to the total minimum thickness.

Under the recommended minimum, the thinner your design part, the higher the chance is that something will go wrong with the print. Anything below the recommended absolute minimum is unprintable.

How to achieve the best wall thickness for your 3D Printing

Keeping these simple guidelines in mind will help you achieve the minimum wall thickness you need for the walls of your object. (Source)

Assign a wall thickness to 3D model

It is very crucial that you assign a wall thickness to each surface of your 3D model. It’s possible to design your surface without a wall thickness when using 3D modeling software. However, 3D printers require information on the wall thickness of your printing object. Therefore, it is crucial that you define the wall thickness when turning your 3D model into a 3D print.

Most 3D printing problems can be drawn back due to issues surrounding wall thickness. The smallest printable wall thickness largely depends on your choice of 3D printing material.

Before you begin designing your 3D model, you need to know the key fundamental guidelines for the 3D printing material you choose.

Choose the correct minimum wall thickness for your 3D printing

In case you choose to print using a strong material like Titanium (0.4 mm) or High Detailed Stainless Steel (0.3 mm), you can use quite a minimum wall thickness. However, we recommend that you make the walls slightly thicker to be on the safer side. 

The minimum wall thickness you choose to use can depend largely on your 3D model design and structure. In case you choose to print in a high detailed stainless steel, 5 mm² vertical wall surface only requires 0.33 mm wall thickness, whereas 100 mm² vertical wall surface requires at least 1 mm wall thickness.

A horizontal wall surface with a 100 mm² area would require 2 mm wall thickness. In this case, the wall surface alignment (horizontal or vertical) and the size is vital in determining your minimum wall thickness. 

Recommended wall thickness for 3D printing

Most printers can print relatively thin in Multicolor, however, this does not mean that it’s a good idea to print very fine walls. During finishing and shipping, there is a likelihood that parts of your object with a wall thickness below 1.5 mm will break.

For certain materials, heavy, long-hanging items may break off when designed too thinly. In case, your 3D print model includes fragile parts such as outstretched arms, try adding supporting structures as part of your design.

Never ignore gravity when designing your 3D model. It is recommended that you use bent arms holding any item that touches the ground.

In a nutshell, achieving a perfect wall thickness requires the following:

  • First, you must know how to define a wall thickness to each surface of your model. This is an important step when preparing your 3D print. 
  • The recommended wall thickness depends largely on the printing material. You must keenly read the design guides for your material of choice, not forgetting that maximum wall thickness may cause problems in some cases.
  • Take your time to analyze your design. In case it has weaker areas, think about supporting such sections. Also, know that the required wall thickness will largely be influenced by the size of your design object.
  • You may also use online tools such as Materialize Cloud to automatically check your wall thickness for a design of your choice.

How small can a 3D printer print in microns?

An FDM 3D printer is capable of printing 3D model prints as small as its nozzle diameter (0.15 millimeters). With a resin printer, you can select layer height options ranging between 25 and 300 microns. (Source)

What is the resolution in 3D printing?

When looking at 3D printing resolution, the layer height of the design is a standard measure to define your print resolution. However, thinking that this is the entire concept of your print resolution is incorrect. A good resolution in 3D printing is much more than the layer height.

The 3D printer height capability varies, ranging between 10 microns and 300 microns, depending on your 3D printer size.

What type of 3D printer has the best resolution?

There is a vast range of 3D printing technologies, with each slightly differing from the others based on the resolution of the final product. The 3D printing technology is fundamental when determining the type of 3D printer with the best resolution in the market. 

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

Fused Deposition Modeling is basically a 3D printing technology that generates parts via extrusion. It involves melting and extruding thermoplastic filament through a 3D print head nozzle into your build platform.

FDM’s resolution is basically controlled by the diameter of your printer extrusion nozzle and the stepper motor movement. However, the melted plastic flow dynamics may also influence this resolution.

MultiJet and PolyJet

MultiJet and Polyjet are two related 3D printing technologies. The two function like a dot matrix printer, using a UV light to cure the resin and the dot grids to dump resin onto a build platform. Their resolution largely relies on DPI. The more dots are available in an area, the finer the print resolution.

It is important to note that MultiJet always has a higher resolution compared to PolyJet owing to the state in which each printing technology deposits its material.

Stereolithography (SLA)

This is another 3D printing technology that utilizes UV light and resin. SLA 3D printer resolution is determined by the spot size and diameter of the UV light beam. It is meant to attain a finer XY resolution because it does not rely on precise deposition of materials from print head and the melted plastic flow mechanic flow dynamics. (Source)

How do you determine the resolution of a 3D printer?

Resolution is one way you can use to measure the print quality of your 3D printer. However, there is no standard that manufacturers of all 3D printers stick to. Each tends to determine resolution using different parameters.

Since 3D printers print in X, Y, and Z dimensions, you need a few numbers to determine your printer’s resolution.

XY and Z Resolution

The XY and Z dimensions in 3D printing all determine a good printing resolution. (Source) The XY dimension is the movement of the printer nozzle back and forth within a single layer. The 3D print will be of good quality, clear, and smooth if the XY dimensions layer height is set to a medium-size resolution like 100 microns. This is equal to 0.1 mm nozzle diameter.

The Z dimension correlates to the value that tells your printer about the thickness of every layer of the 3D print. This rule also applies in terms of the number of microns. The fewer the microns, the higher the print resolution.

You need to set the microns by keeping your printer nozzle size in mind. In case the diameter of your printer nozzle is 0.4 mm (400 microns), the layer height should range between 25%-75% of your printer nozzle diameter. 

The range between 0.2 mm-0.3 mm layer height is considered the best height for a 0.4 mm nozzle diameter. Printing at this height provides a balanced resolution, speed, and printing success.

Wrap Up

Now that you are well acquainted with microns and the accuracy in terms of resolution you expect to achieve when carrying out 3D printing using different technologies you, may be left hanging in between choosing the best technology for your needs?

Worry not! At 3D Print Schooling, we shall help you learn different 3D print technologies and guide you on the best technology to chose when designing and printing your 3D models.

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