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What is Resolution in 3D Printing

  • 6 min read

Beyond the Layers:What Is Resolution in 3D Printing

In the rapidly evolving world of 3D printing, understanding the nuances of printer technology is crucial for both enthusiasts and professionals. One key aspect that significantly influences the quality of 3D printed objects is the printer's resolution. But what is resolution in 3D printing, and why does it matter? This article aims to comprehensively explain the fundamentals of 3D printer resolution, identify the key factors that affect it, and provide effective strategies for improving it. Whether you're troubleshooting a print job or striving for perfection in your 3D printing projects, grasping the concept of resolution is vital in achieving the precision and quality you desire. Let's dive in!

What Is 3D Printer Resolution?

3D printer resolution refers to the level of detail and accuracy that a 3D printer can achieve when creating an object. It is usually measured in microns or millimeters, where a smaller number indicates a higher resolution—thus providing a more detailed and precise final product. The resolution of a 3D printer can depend on various factors, including the printing technology used, as well as the quality and capabilities of the printer itself.
The overall resolution of 3D printer is determined by both its horizontal (X and Y axes) and vertical (Z-axis) resolutions. The horizontal resolution, which refers to the smallest movement the printer's head can make in a layer, is primarily governed by the printer's positioning system and mechanical components, while the vertical resolution depends on the layer height— the thickness of the printed material that is deposited with each pass of the print head. Greater accuracy in both dimensions leads to smoother, sharper, and more detailed prints.

Factors that Affect the 3D Printer Resolution

Resolution is not solely determined by the printer's hardware but is also affected by several variables that can be adjusted or optimized. The following are the primary factors that impact the resolution of a 3D printer:

Layer Height

One of the most significant factors affecting resolution, especially in vertical (Z-axis) terms, is layer height. It is the thickness of each layer of material substance that is deposited during the printing process. A smaller layer height results in finer detail and a smoother surface finish, as it reduces the visible layer lines and allows for better reproduction of intricate details. However, smaller layer heights increase the total number of layers needed to complete the print, which in turn can significantly increase the overall printing time.

Nozzle Size

The size of the nozzle on a 3D printer directly impacts the resolution of the printed object. A smaller nozzle diameter can deposit material more precisely, allowing for finer details and sharper edges in the finished product. However, using a smaller nozzle size also slows down the printing process, which may not be ideal for larger prints or those with less intricate features. On the other hand, larger nozzles can achieve faster print times but may compromise some of the fine details in smaller or highly detailed models.

Print Material

The type of material used in 3D printing can also affect the final print resolution. Different materials have different properties, such as viscosity, melting point, and tensile strength, that can affect how accurately the printer can deposit the material and maintain the desired level of detail. For example, materials with higher viscosity and lower melting temperatures tend to offer better resolution, as they can be more easily controlled during the printing process. On the other hand, materials with lower viscosity and higher melting points may present challenges when it comes to achieving high resolution, as they might be more difficult to control or adhere to the printing surface properly. Ultimately, it is important to find the right balance between print resolution and material properties to optimize the desired output.

How to Improve the 3D Printer Resolution?

Achieving higher resolution in 3D printing is a common goal for users, whether for professional applications or personal projects. Here are some practical tips and techniques for improving the resolution of your 3D printer:

Optimize Print Settings

Enhancing 3D printer resolution begins by optimizing print settings. The layer height is a primary determinant of print resolution; a lower layer height will increase resolution as layers are finer, enabling more detail. However, it's a delicate balance because a layer height that is too low can lead to longer print times and potential failure. A layer height of around 0.1mm is typically ideal for high-resolution prints. Also, ensure correct calibration of the printer's belts, pulleys, and extruder. For flawless prints, these components must be set accurately.

Select High-Quality Filaments

The choice of filament plays a crucial role in the resolution of your prints. High-quality filaments tend to have fewer impurities and more consistent diameters, which translates to smoother and more precise prints. Moreover, some materials inherently can achieve higher resolutions due to their physical properties. For example, PLA offers excellent detail capturing due to its low shrinkage factor compared to ABS.
At AnkerMake, our premium PLA 3D printer filaments are designed for high-resolution 3D printing. Our range includes a variety of textures—from silky to glitter and matte—each rigorously tested for over 12 months in our Speed Lab to ensure resilience and durability in high-speed printing. Our PLA filaments are known for their minimal shrinkage rate of just 0.33%, significantly reducing warping and ensuring precise prints.

Post-Processing Techniques

Post-processing techniques cap the improvements in 3D printer resolution. They enhance aesthetics, feel, and sometimes even the part's dimensional accuracy. This may involve sanding to smooth the print, priming to prep it for painting, or using an acetone vapor bath for ABS prints. Just note that it's crucial to choose the procedure that fits the particular material you're processing.

Upgrade to Advanced Printer Models

To significantly enhance resolution, consider upgrading to a more advanced high-resolution 3D printer model. At AnkerMake, we proudly offer two state-of-the-art 3D printers designed for high-resolution printing:
Our AnkerMake M5 3D Printer exemplifies speed and precision, revolutionizing the industry. Equipped with PowerBoost™ 2.0, it reaches speeds up to 500 mm/s, all while maintaining a remarkable 0.1 mm precision. The direct drive extruder and sturdy aluminum alloy structure ensure precision even at high speeds. Additionally, the M5 features an integrated AI camera for detailed printing and monitoring, along with a 7×7 auto-leveling system. Its significant print volume of 235×235×250 mm³, coupled with easy assembly, makes the M5 an excellent choice for those who value both efficiency and quality.


For those seeking simplicity without sacrificing efficiency, our AnkerMake M5C 3D Printer is the ideal choice. It boasts the same high-speed capability of 500 mm/s as the M5 but adds an enhanced extrusion flow rate of 35 mm³/s and a larger 82 mm³ melting chamber. This combination allows for faster, yet precision-oriented printing. The M5C's direct drive extruder and upgraded all-metal hotend, operable at 300℃, ensure precise motion control and expand filament compatibility, making it a versatile tool for a wide range of printing projects.
Upgrading to one of our AnkerMake 3D printers can be a game-changer for those seeking to achieve the highest resolution in their prints. With these printers, you can expect not only speed and precision but also a seamless and user-friendly printing experience.


Exploring "what is resolution in 3D printing" has taken us through the various aspects that contribute to the overall quality of a 3D printed object. We've uncovered the multifaceted nature of resolution, looking at factors like layer height, nozzle size, and print material, and delved into methods to enhance it. Remember, achieving the desired resolution in 3D printing is a balance of art and science, requiring a deep understanding of your printer's capabilities and the material you're using. By applying the insights from this guide, you're well on your way to mastering the art of 3D printing, pushing the boundaries of what's possible, and achieving impeccable results in every print.


Here are some commonly asked questions on what is resolution in 3D printing.

What is a good 3D print resolution?

A good 3D print resolution typically ranges from 0.05 to 0.2 millimeters (50 to 200 microns), balancing detail and practicality. High resolutions, especially around 0.05 mm (50 microns), are ideal for detailed prints and are more achievable with resin printers like SLA or DLP. For general use, particularly with FDM printers, a moderate resolution of 0.1 to 0.2 mm (100 to 200 microns) offers a good compromise between quality and printing time.

Is resolution the same as layer height?

No, resolution and layer height are related but not the same. Layer height refers to the thickness of each printed layer, impacting the print's vertical resolution and surface smoothness. Resolution, however, encompasses both vertical layer height and horizontal detailing, influenced by factors like printer movement precision and nozzle size. While layer height contributes to the overall resolution, it's just one part of the broader picture of a print's detail and quality.

Does higher resolution mean better accuracy?

Yes, generally higher resolution in 3D printing does lead to better accuracy. With higher resolution, a 3D printer can more precisely replicate the details of the design, leading to a more accurate and finer finished product. However, the overall accuracy also depends on other aspects such as the printer's calibration, the quality of the filament or printing material, and the design's complexity.