I have concluded the best low cost FDM 3D printer for small and very high-quality prints is the Tiertime Cetus series printers. They are made with the quality linear bearings and other quality parts required for accurate FDM printing.
Not perfect in every sense, but excellent quality and design when low hardware cost and highest print quality is desired.
Very high resolution in the .15 to .05 MM layer resolution requires very long print times. For this reason, such resolution creates a practical print time limitation, generally limiting printing to small volume models. Print a 250 x 250 x 250 MM model with 0.05 MM layers requires 5,000 layers! At a mere 1,5 minutes per layer that’s 125 hours or over five full days. (5.208 days to be exact!)
For this reason, there is no driving need to acquire a large volume printer when the desire is to print very high-quality small items. The Cetus envelope is 180 x 180 x 180 MM. A very reasonable size for small, high resolution FDM printing.
I own a resin DLP resin type printer that can easily exceed the resolution of FDM printers, but that print material comparison is not the point here. FDM is a much easier process for desktop and in-office production.
I am thinking 0.1 MM FDM is a good choice for master model making for lost wax casting. Using the available Cetus 0.20MM amd 0.40MM diameter nozzles and using layer heights down to 0.05 MM, very detailed and high-quality parts can be produced. Tiny layer lines will be present but can be reduced in post processing.
I haven’t explored the 0.20MM nozzle for some time. I used it once when I was very inexperienced with little knowledge of printing with this small size. I wasn’t interested in printing very slowly or producing very small models. I believe I was pushing the speed and I remember suffering some printing issues.
But for producing small silver and other metal casting models, I now realize the value of the smaller nozzle. I certainly will be testing this size nozzle again, soon. I don’t intend to make this my only nozzle choice as I have been producing excellent models with 0.40MM orifice and 0.10 layer heights. Some 0.20MM layers turn out very well too.
Let’s Do It!