A Quick Guide to Dimensional Accuracy for 3D Printing

The idea behind dimensional accuracy is simple. It refers to how accurately a printed part or prototype matches the intended dimension of the original design, such as size and specifications. 

But before that, if you are looking for the best 3D printers in Australia, we at 3DPrintings.com.au offer all kinds of 3D printing processes and services. 

Now, let’s take a look at what impacts dimensional accuracy:

Dimensional Accuracy Factors

Dimensional accuracy is decided by factors such as the kind of printing process and materials that were used. The 3D printing process isn’t perfect. But there are steps that one can take to ensure that the final product is as accurate as possible. 

Here are some steps to ensure that the process is as accurate as possible. 

Machine Accuracy

There are many 3D printers out there, and some 3D printers are just more accurate compared to their counterparts. So, it is better to look for a printer that is reliable for dimensional accuracy. 

Materials

The materials used to print your desired part or prototype can greatly affect the accuracy. The right material printed through the right process will be a much better fit and much more accurate. For example, SLA resin has two forms, standard and flexible. For 3D printing, due to the rigidity of standard SLA resin, it will contribute much more to the accuracy of the final product.

Object Size

Size matter because smaller objects can usually be produced with a higher accuracy due to the less amount of work that the printer has to do. If the object is bigger, some printers out there can be prone to production errors that you would rather avoid.

Warping & Shrinkage

3D printers are also quite prone to shrinkage and warpage during the printing process, which is something you should also watch out for.

Post-processing

Post-processing can also have an effect on dimensional accuracy. The handling and the cooling procedures employed for the storage of the final product can have an undesired impact. 

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 

FDM is one of the most common 3D printing processes relied on due to its rapidity. FDM creates objects by heating and moulding thermoplastics. These thermoplastics are heated to a high temperature. And while the final product can be strong, if not handled well, FDM final products can be warped and varied, causing problems in the dimensional accuracy.

Stereolithography (SLA) 

SLA is especially efficient at the visual part of things. It can produce visually accurate parts with a very low dimensional tolerance. But SLA uses resins that can take time to cure and harden properly. These resins, especially when used in the production of large parts, are likely to distort. And due to the mouldability of resin, they can distort under their own weight. This is why proper cooling processes and support structures should be employed to increase dimensional accuracy as much as possible.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 

SLS printing works by binding layers of sinter powder together. This process has a higher dimensional tolerance and more accuracy than FDM, but it is still prone to some level of warping that can occur due to improper cooling processes. This problem is more common in larger produced parts but can also be found in smaller parts in some circumstances. That is why it is recommended to leave the part produced in a sinter powder bed until fully cooled.

Material Jetting

Material jetting has the lowest dimensional tolerance out of all the processes and is therefore considered the most accurate 3D printing process. Warping and shrinking most likely won’t occur because this process doesn’t use heat, but thin parts such as walls and extremely intricate patterns might be affected. The durability is, therefore, lower in the material jetting process. 

Metal 3D Printing

The dimensional tolerance of metal 3D printing is just about equal to material getting but the process itself is most similar to SLS printing. Powders of metals are heated and bound together. Here, if different metals are used, they can have different cooling and settling rates. That can have an effect where warping might occur. That is why proper cooling methods and support structures should be employed when doing metal 3D printing.

Conclusion

Dimensional accuracy is essential when creating prototypes because they will later be analysed and tested. So, it is imperative to reduce the margin of error as much as possible. At 3DPrintings.com.au, we offer many different kinds of 3D printing methods, and they are all highly refined and checked to increase dimensional accuracy as much as possible. If you are looking for 3D Printing in Australia, then contact us today, and we will get you started.

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