We often make the mistake of using hardware specs for determining a printer’s quality. That is, when we refer to a machine’s resolution, what we are really saying is what the manufacturer has told us about the quality of its components. For a laser-based printer, that would be beam diameter and for a DLP printer, that would be number of pixels in the projector. Instead, what we should be looking at is the quality of the actual prints that come from any given machine. Rather than determining a machine’s quality based on product descriptions, we should measure the smallest (positive and negative) features it can print.
We have produced a ‘test artifact’ that consists of arrays of posts and holes in walls. By running this model through a printer and examining the results, we can see which features the machine is able to successfully print. Since we know the exact diameters of the posts and holes in the model, identifying the point at which the printer can no longer produce accurate results is fairly straight forward.
The tricky part; however, is optimizing printer settings to ensure the printer is performing to the top of its capabilities. This means that exposure time, layer thickness and type of printing material are key variables that must be taken into account when performing this test.
Feel free to download our test model to see what your machine is capable of. We use this geometry to test our printers in the lab every time we make upgrades and changes to the hardware, firmware and software.
Here are the model measurements so you can compare them to your printed part:
Circular Holes: 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, and 1000 µm diameter (1 and 3 mm deep)
Rectangular Holes: 125, 250, 500, 750, and 1000 µm tall (1 mm deep 2.5 mm wide) 250, 500, and 750 µm tall (1 mm deep 4.5 mm wide)
Posts: 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350, 400, 450, and 500 µm width (5.5 mm tall)