Printing with different layer heights with the same nozzle diameter (e.g. 0.4mm) gives quite a range of printing quality and printing time – the higher the quality or lower the layer height the more printing time it takes, the 20mm height XYZ Calibration Cube as an example:
0.05mm layer height / 398 layers / 1.38 hrs
0.1mm lh / 200 layers / 0.73 hrs
0.2mm lh / 100 layers / 0.37 hrs
0.3mm lh / 66 layers / 0.25 hrs
0.32mm lh / 62 layers / 0.23 hrs
0.32mm layer height is 80% of the nozzle diameter, and supposed to be the maximum of layer height.
0.14mm – 0.39mm lh / 64 layers / 0.21 hrs
using the Adaptive Layer Height feature of Cura.
0.4mm lh / 50 layers / 0.18 hrs
obviously too high layer height with 0.4mm on a 0.4mm nozzle, some layers have gaps.
0.4mm w/ 0.6mm nozzle / 50 layers / 0.11 hrs
using 0.6mm nozzle on E3D Volcano clone – not quite tuned with under extrusion on the top (90% flow, with 100% flow the X/Y surfaces were terribly over extruded).
All printed with
- 60mm/s print @ 190C
- 80mm/s infill
- 150mm/s travel
- 1st layer: 20mm/s print @ 200C
- a heavily improved CTC DIY I3 Pro B (Geeetech DIY I3 Pro B clone) with
- Bowden setup and E3D V6 clone hotend,
- sliced with Cura 3.4,
- printed with white PLA-R (recycled PLA) by Fabru – it was a custom extrusion based on recycled white PLA, they usually sell only black recycled PLA as of 2018.
While reviewing all the samples, I noticed I could improve the Z banding issue, which still showed a bit – addressed in 3D Printing: Fixing Z Banding; done after all my layer tests.
Layer height 0.05mm and 0.1mm look very alike with this XYZ Calibration Cube – so it’s not really worth 0.05mm but 0.1mm would be sufficient. The Adaptive Layer Height turned out quite well, near the same speed as 0.32mm layer height.
The top surfaces of 0.05mm and 0.1mm are very nice, whereas 0.2mm already shows significant artifacts – best choice would be to print the last layer at 0.1mm layer height.
If one prints large volume, it’s worth to consider a larger nozzle, e.g. 0.6mm nozzle diameter, which outputs 2.25x more material already yet direct drive recommended – I struggled with complex prints with retractions with the Bowden setup.
I usually print at 0.2mm layer height, and if a larger piece is required I increase to 0.3mm – for the future I might switch the Adaptive Layer Height feature in Cura in that case.