How to 3D Print High-Quality 3D Parts (Best Practices included)
Author: Aaron Chen Date Posted:3 February 2020
There can be a lot of different factors that can influence the outcome of the 3D printing. It can be some environmental factors that are related to the 3D printing machine itself, material properties and various settings etc.
To help you achieve outstanding quality of 3D parts, here are the things that must be considered. Read on to know more about them.
Factors to consider
Below are the possible factors that can affect the quality of 3D parts/prints.
Printing medium used and material compatibility
In order to 3d print good quality parts, one should use high-quality materials. These materials come in different forms. It can be in a filament, resin or powder type.
There are limitless possibilities when it comes to 3D printing. It allows people to create objects out from their ideas. Factors such as material compatibility should be considered carefully.
For every printing technology utilised, there are also specific type of materials that can be used. For instance, EBM printers use electron beam and they can only print metal powder materials.
To make good quality 3D parts, it is important to set up the 3D printer according to its manufacturer’s instructions. Apart from that, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on what software and print settings to be used.
Another factor to consider is to keep your 3D printer maintained and calibrated. This means to do regular maintenance procedures and check all the parts if it works properly.
Temperature is one of the important settings for 3D printers. The quality of the 3D parts sometimes depends on the temperature settings for the extruder or on the heated platform. If the extrusion temperature is not correct, it may cause improper layer adhesion, stringing, weak parts and other printing issues.
For every material used, there are specific or recommended temperature settings that must be followed. Take PLA as an example. This material requires around 200°C to fully melt. While for ABS, it will melt well at around 240°C. The temperature setting may also vary depending on the 3D printer being used.
Process monitoring is necessary to ensure that the entire project is leading towards the intended result. It may be inefficient to wait until the 3D printing process is completed and then find that the product 3d printed has poor quality. It will be helpful to monitor (in real-time) the different stages of the 3d printing process.
When the 3d printing operator has discovered any inconsistency throughout the 3d printing process, adjustments can be easily made, which prevent it from affecting the quality of the final 3D part.
Retraction is also an important parameter to achieve high quality prints. The purpose of retraction is to relieve pressure from the melt zone. It will also prevent the material to drip while printing.
If retraction is not calibrated properly during the printing process, mistakes may occur such as stringing or oozing which can affect the quality of the 3D object.
Best practices on how to print high-quality 3D parts
Here are some of the best practices on how to achieve outstanding quality for 3D objects.
Pick the right materials
Using wrong materials is one of the biggest mistakes when it comes to 3D printing. Wrong choice of materials can also result in poor quality parts.
Before starting out with 3D printing, it is important to understand a few properties of the material being used. Thereafter, certain 3d printing technology can be chosen properly.
The thermal and mechanical properties of the materials are also critical. For instance, FDM printing technology should use certain materials to build durable and strong parts which comprises of stable mechanical properties. Thermoplastic is appropriate to be used when it comes to FDM printing. It can also be ideal for detailed functional prototypes and durable manufacturing tools.
Use support structure
There are different circumstances where support structure is needed. If the 3D model is complex and highly detailed, support structures and rafts are highly required. The type of 3D printing technology used also determines if support structures are required.
Support structures may influence the final result of the object. It will also have an impact on surface finish since the object will require post-processing work.
Be mindful of the file resolution
The 3D printer resolution can affect the quality of the finished object. To determine and set the resolution of the 3D model, the design should be exported in an STL format.
If the resolution of the STL file is low, there is a possibility that the outcome will lead to a slightly “pixelated” print. As a result, the quality of the printed part will not be satisfactory.
Conversely, if the STL file has a very high resolution, it can be difficult to handle since the file size will become too huge. It may also contain a high level of details thus it cannot be printed easily.
Another way of increasing the quality of the 3D parts is to lower the printing speed.
In this way, the extruder will have enough time to do its job especially on the edges and corners. Furthermore, the filament can stick properly and will have more time to cool down. If the printing speed is not set properly, it may lead to various printing issues such as warping, over extrusion, etc.
In order to have the best results, post-processing is necessary. However, post-processing requires certain equipment in order to get great outcomes.
For example, polishing and machining are the most common processes for metal printing. Conversely, post processing for these parts may be challenging. This is because the process can only be done by an expert who has special tools. Moreover, post processing may require different levels depending on how smooth or rough the desired finish is.
There can be different factors that should be considered in order to have good quality 3D parts. Likewise, the practices and advice mentioned above can also help with achieving the desired outcomes.
Even though 3D printing has its own limitations, there can be several ways on how you can work with these limitations and create high-quality 3D prints.
No matter what 3d printing process or materials being used, the information above can guide you if you want to start with 3D printing. However, if you don’t own a 3D printer to begin with, you can outsource it to a local 3d printing company which provide relevant 3d printing service and 3d print high quality 3D objects or parts for you.