Excerpt 2: The Accuracy Myth: Don’t Make the Mistake of Confusing Resolution with Accuracy

Accuracy Myth WhitepaperIt’s only natural that engineers working with additive manufacturing / 3D printing should have focused on the resolution of the manufacturing system in the days when "rapid prototyping" was used to produce conceptual models judged on  appearance only. Today, additive manufacturing is commonly used to produce tooling, functional prototypes and low volume production parts that must meet the same demanding dimensional requirements as traditional manufacturing methods. In this changing environment, resolution of the manufacturing system is becoming less significant while other capabilities such as accuracy and repeatability are growing in importance.

A webinar today on this topic starts at 1:00 p.m. central time. It is titled "The Accuracy Myth: Don’t Make the Mistake of Confusing Resolution with Accuracy." A white paper will be available for download afterwords. The webinar and white paper explain how accuracy, repeatability and resolution apply to additive manufacturing. Learn more and register for the webinar.

Below is the second of four excerpts from the white paper, which will be available after today’s webinar.

"Regardless of the build method, it’s tempting to equate the height of the incremental layer and the width of the smallest feature with system accuracy. The finer the resolution – the myth goes – the more accurate the part."

"In some circumstances, there is limited truth to that reasoning. “In some applications, a fine resolution is important. In others, it doesn’t matter,” says Sheku Kamara, director of the rapid prototyping lab at the Milwaukee School of Engineering."

"So when does resolution count? As it relates to accuracy, “resolution becomes critical only when part feature size becomes very small,” says Kamara. If the application requires micro-scale feature sizes or wall thicknesses, then resolution can dictate a system’s ability to accurately create the very small features. For example, Kamara points out, if the feature size is 0.002 in. (0.0508 mm) and the system’s best Z-resolution is 0.005 in. (0.127 mm), then layer thickness can constrain part-feature accuracy."

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