How thin can a 3D printer print?
In FDM printing, a model is built by printing layers of filament (plastic). This filament is heated until it melts and is then passed through the nozzle of the printer. The width of the layer printed on the print bed is determined in part by the size of the nozzle. Different sizes are available to print different wall thicknesses (extrusion widths). When printing a thin-walled 3d print, it is good to know exactly how this works. If the wrong settings are used, a wall may not be built up properly or may not be printed at all. This often happens when models are reduced in size.
Different nozzle sizes
The various nozzle sizes can be used for different purposes. Do you want a model to be printed quickly, without paying too much attention to the details? Then choose a big nozzle size like 1.0mm. This nozzle prints a wide and high layer, resulting in less required layers and therefore a quicker result. However, if you want to print a detailed or thin-walled model, you should choose a smaller nozzle, like 0.2 or 0.4mm.
Too thin walls
Sometimes, models need to be scaled to a different size. This can be done in the CAD program, but also in slicing software like Simplify3D (which is software that converts a 3D model into a printable file). To acquire the best result, it’s advisable to always scale a product in the CAD program. When scaling down a model, it could happen that walls become too thin to be printed. Most 3D printers have a set nozzle size with a diameter of 0.4mm or 0.5mm. Although this works for most models, problems could arise when layers smaller than this nozzle size need to be printed. When for instance a 0.2mm thick wall has to be printed with a 0.4mm nozzle, this wall will not be shown in the Simplify3D preview and not be printed. There are two possible ways to ensure these walls will be printed (correctly).
Change the design
Firstly, the model can be changed in the original CAD program. Make sure the walls are at least as big as the nozzle size. The walls can also be a bit bigger than the nozzle, 20% at the most. When all walls have been adjusted, the model can be imported into the slicer software again.
Change the nozzle
The second solution is to install a smaller nozzle. The dddrop 3D printers have been built in such a way that it’s easy to change the nozzle. You can choose from nozzles in the sizes 0.2, 0.4, 0.6, 0.8 or 1.0mm. This enables you to print with a high speed as well as detailed thin-walled products.