3D Print Quality with the H-Series

Updated: 6 days ago

For a few reasons, we have not focused on the capabilities of the H-Series to perform basic 3D printing. Those reasons are:

  1. The most common test material is PLA. We don't print in PLA because it is not a good engineering material. It is great for making visual models, but not functional parts.

  2. We specialize in printing TPU, which produces incredibly durable parts. TPU is a perfect fit for 3D printing: no heated bed; very forgiving extrusion settings with a high-quality extruder; tough, durable, functional parts. TPU printed strain relief and cable management parts are all over the H-Series production machines.

  3. With Hybrid Operations, we don't usually care what a print looks like, since we'll be milling it anyway.

Of course the H-Series does produce high-quality prints by combining the highest-performing extruder on the market with a CNC-grade motion control system. To test and demonstrate this, we run a calibration test. Specifically, we use the Autodesk test from here: We used some PLA that we've had around the shop for a few years. (Just to make a point about printing functional vs. purely aesthetic parts - we have about 100 spools in the factory, comprising dozens of different materials. We have 2 spools of PLA.)

Following the Autodesk criteria, we have:

1. Dimensional accuracy average error: 0.048mm (5pts)

2. Fine Flow Control: >30mm, no stringing (5pts)

3. Fine Negative Features: All pins can be removed by hand (5pts)

4. Overhangs: Difference in 15 and 20° sections (3pts)

5. Briding: No contact between bridges (5pts)

6. XY Resonance: No ringing (2.5pts)

7. Z-axis Alignment: No registration effect visiple (2.5pts)

Total score: 28/30

Some of these are up for interpretation (how much stringing is stringing, whether overhanging quality is "the same" or "slightly different", etc). In any case, the combination of the Flexion extruder, a CNC-grade motion control system, and some decent settings can yield high-quality prints.