Layer Height Experiment

The Z-axis stepper on the Ender 3 works in 0.04mm increments, and I thought I'd see what would happen if I printed something at exactly that layer height. This is the result.

It's not a success as a model (though it is identifiably a 1:285 scale Vickers Medium Mk.II), but it has taught me a few things.

  • The Ender 3 will indeed print at a layer height of 0.04mm, but
  • It doesn't much like it — there's a great deal of stringing. That might have been partly because of the nozzle heat, but I suspect it's mostly because the nozzle was squishing into layers already laid down.
  • All of the sloping planes are very smooth, but
  • The cleanup required afterwards is excessive.
  • The print time, even for something as tiny as this, is going to be very, very long. I did two of these simultaneously, and it took about four hours.

I printed two at once, as I mentioned — one (shown above) printed lying horizontally on the raft, the other (to the right) standing vertically on the hull rear.

As you can see, the one printed standing up is appallingly bad, and I haven't even bothered cleaning it up any further than just stripping away the supports as far as I can.

I gave this model another go, printed at 0.08mm, t see how that one fared. I got rid of its gun, and just added a locating dimple where it should go — I'll bore it out and use a cut off brass pin instead.

I doubt, somehow, that I'm going to be printing many 1:285—1:300 scale vehicles, and those I do will probably have to be simplified to the level of Axis & Allies tokens.

It's quite usable as a wargaming piece though. Indeed, I've had much worse metal models in the past. The biggest problem with the printed micros is the stringing of this blue filament; the short piece of white filament that came with the printer was much better, but I have no idea who made it or where to get it from. I haven't yet found out exactly what combination of temperature, printing speed, retraction etc. this particular blue filament likes — assuming it likes any of them.
Another one, printed at 0.08mm layer height

Just for comparison, here are some Vickers Mediums (based on the same digital model and in the same scale, but a different version of the tank) printed for me by Shapeways on their SLA resin printers. This is their second-to-finest material.

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