The “fine” end of “fine, fast, finish” is really about desktop printers and their fine surface finishes and how that relates to faster print times. For example, the volcano extruder is what you will find on most of desktop units. Their nozzle sizes get down to 0.2 millimeters and offers up some rally fine surface finishes. At the end of the print, you end up with a part that has a fine finish, but with very thin walls.
At 3D Platform, we make large format 3D printers that have a print area of 1.5 meter by 1 meter by 700 millimeters. Printing this big and fine is going to take a long time. What can you print in a half hour? Using a standard print time of 30 minutes, we compare our flexible line of extruders. Starting with the “fine”, we have a volcano extruder that uses a standard 2.85 filament. Next, take a step up to our HFA extruder, which uses the same 2.85 filament and but can push more plastic through its 2.5 millimeter nozzle. Our 30-minute part is more complete, but with a slightly rougher edge. When you need a higher volume of plastic we can move up to the HFE 300. Again, using 2.85 filament and a little bigger nozzle, we have more to show for a half hour of printing.
Notice that the surface finish is a little bit rougher, but the part is stronger because your beads bond together much better. Now because there is more plastic heated up and pushing faster through the nozzle, it has to be liquid cooled. Our top of the line extruder is the HFE 900, which utilizes a six-millimeter filament. This extruder is much longer, which allows more plastic to be heated up at one time, and can push more volume through the nozzle. A half hour of printing yields a greater completion of the part, and with a rougher surface finish.
So, that gives you a good idea within a half hours timeframe what kind of volume you can really expect out of these extruders — and that is what makes us different. Our ability to offer range of extruders that can be swapped in our out depending on speed or finish brings a high level of flexibility to the user of our 3D printing machines.