What Does ‘Resolution’ Mean in 3D Printing?

Illustrated magnifying glass

When most people hear the term “resolution,” they envision the pixel-based measurements used in modern display devices. TVs, computer monitors, handsets and tablets all have a resolution. It’s a universal measurement of how many total pixels a display device possesses. A display device with a resolution of 1920 x 1080, for instance, has 1920 horizontal pixels and 1080 vertical pixels.

Resolution is used in 3D printers as well. Being that 3D printers don’t contain pixels, though, you might be wondering what it means. In this post, you’ll learn more about the resolution of 3D printers.

The Basics of 3D Printing Resolution

In 3D printers, resolution refers to the smallest movement the nozzle can make when depositing material. 3D printers must move over a print bed to deposit material and, therefore, built objects. They move in both a horizontal plane as well as a vertical plane. Some 3D printers, of course, are able to make smaller and more precise movements than others. These 3D printers have a higher resolution than their counterparts. With smaller movements, they can perform more material deposits, resulting in a higher level of detail in their respective printed objects.

3D printers don’t have a single resolution. Rather, they typically have two resolutions. They have an XY resolution, and they have a Y resolution. The XY resolution reflects the 3D printer’s horizontal movements, whereas the Y resolution reflects the 3D printer’s vertical movements.

How Resolution Affects Build Quality

The resolution of a 3D printer will undoubtedly affect the quality of its printed objects. Printed objects are similar to display devices in the sense that they are comprised of many individual units. Display devices are comprised of pixels. Printed objects are comprised of droplets of material. Resolution is ultimately what determines the total number of these material units within a printed object.

If a 3D printer has a low resolution, it will produce objects with less detail. The printed object may look grainy and blocky. In comparison, 3D printers with a high resolution offer greater detail. They are able to make smaller movements while performing more deposits over the print bed. The end result is a superior level of detail within the printed object.

In Conclusion

3D printers have an XY resolution and a Y resolution. It’s the smallest movement a 3D printer can make on a horizontal or vertical plane. The smaller a 3D printer’s movements, the higher its resolution will be for that plane. If you’re looking to print something, let Monroe handle making that print a reality.

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