Smooth Details

12/22/2017

Photo showing smoother details from printerThe problem with most 3D printers available to consumers is that they have a difficult time producing intricate details and patterns smoothly. There are several reasons for this:

  1. The software used to create the digital models of printed objects would create instructions for the printer that would create what is called a "staircase effect".
    1. The "staircase effect" creates a jagged or pixelated edge when forming curves or angles for complex shapes that ends up looking like the profile of a staircase.
    2. The cause of the "staircase effect" is that the software tells the printer to extrude the material at a constant thickness.
  2. 3D printers on the consumer market can only extrude material so small, although I would argue that the current standard of 0.04 mm is pretty darned good!

Well, it looks like some clever engineers in Japan have figured out a "hack" (don't worry, it's legit) to solve this problem. They have figured out a way to add instructions that would that would allow the printer to vary the thinkness of the material as it prints. This will allow for smoother edges.

The significance of this is that it is all done using existing software and hardware that is already out there! No new hardware is required! That means that if you currently have a 3D printer using FDM technology, which stands for Fused Deposition Modeling (most affordable printers use this technology), then you could use this technique without significant upgrade costs.

You can read more here: http://www.3ders.org/articles/20171221-japanese-engineers-create-tactile-3d-printed-surface-patterns-using-clever-technique.html.

Man, how I love a good hack like this!

-Rafe