3D Printer Advice for SketchUp


I am in a bit of a bind.

Researching to purchase a 3D printer for specific key points:

  1. Resolution quality - After printing I would like to do very little cleaning as the models and prototypes will be very small and detailed (aka human/ other faces on the size of “Dungeons & Dragons” character models [Plus] Tiny gears for wrist watches and other prototypes. [Under 50 microns or 20 microns.]

  2. Durability - Doesn’t break often in good working environments.

  3. Material Flexibility - I do a lot of custom prototyping and having a printer that is able to flex around materials would be awesome.

  4. Manufacturer and Product Support - Not only does the company give good efficient help and part replacement if something breaks… but also continues to improve upon their devices and add peripherals (like as an example a 3D sculpting pen attachment to their printer nozzle for a human touch.)

  5. 3rd Party Material or Software Support.

(Price is not a factor but I would like to get something I can put on a work desk for under $5,000 USD.)

Thank you for your help.

While I can’t give you a recommendation, I can inform you that your size/resolution puts you well outside of ranges available for home/hobbyist/maker space use. Nozzle orifice in that market goes no smaller than .25mm - which is 5 times larger than the 50 microns you mention. There is no way this lower tier can satisfy the level of detail you specify.

Prior to you question, I had no knowledge of printers capable of this resolution. You piqued my curiosity enough to do a brief google search for high resolution 3d printing. I only checked a few of the results, but it convinced me that you’ll need some sort of laser based printing - as mechanical positioning just won’t achieve the precision you need. I found only 1 printer that comes close to your criteria #1 while staying within your budget: The Form 2 from Formlabs. I can’t speak to its success in meeting your other 4 criteria.

As a general comment, I think you’ll find that you’re going to need an industrial quality machine, likely to exceed your “desktop” cost by at least an order of magnitude. Machines of that cost need to be operating at high utilisation rates to avoid being an economic catastrophe to most businesses - that’s why they sell into the high end manufacturing and service house markets.

Yes difficult getting a hi-rez printer with a support plan/extended warranty for $5000. You can look at the Ultimaker 3, technically it can print at 0.2mm and as sjdorst has pointed out the Form 2. I have used the Form 2 myself although not for anything as small as you aresuggesting. It is a fantastic printer but not cheap. With support you are looking at about £5k so $7k not including shipping.

I am not sure what you mean when you say 3D sculpting pen, if you mean something like this then it wont be accurate or at the resolution you need. I have used a few and they are basically just toys. I don’t think they will make them at a high resolution as there is no market for it. Anybody who is printing seriously is going to want the accuracy of a stable platform rather than free handing.

I just came across a resin based, SLA 3D printer that comes quite close to your small size requirements, that is significantly cheaper than the Form 2 I previously identified:

Cost assembled is $1,995 - And through the link above, you can get it for $300 off this price through March 5. It’s also available as a kit for $1,295.

Key specs: Laser dot size: 70 micron. Minimum layer height: 10 micron.

Check out FormLabs. Their printers have some of the best prints I have seen from a desktop printer and they have durable material and flexible materials available.

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The best fdm printer i have ever used is zortrax m200. They are improving software, materials, hardware all the time. In gallery section I posted some images with printed houses for architectural model.

I have used: makerbot and some less known 3d printers.

I checked out the Zortrax M200. The following specifications are FAR outside of the resolution the original poster desires:

  • resolution: 90-400 microns
  • resolution of single printable point: 400 microns

• 3D HUBS : Best 3D Printer Guide


Good site!

Give me small model with details you want to print. I will print it on my zortrax m200 with abs filament. Than I will post photos here.

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It’s not what I want to print! It’s what the original poster (@ChristopherJamesLeger) wants to print - and the specifications he gave in the original post.

I will say that, while this discussion has been somewhat lively, the original poster hasn’t returned to indicate whether or not anything here has been helpful. Given his apparent lack of interest, I’m going to refrain from further posts unless he re-appears.

I have been most interested, that last site by @sketch3d_de was a real goldmine. Unfortunately I will be in real trouble with my girlfriend if I order a 3D printer!!

she must have birthday coming up…



In my option these numbers can be misleading. I printed some models on higher resolution and quality wasn’t better.

Depends on the level of detail OP needs.I think they are over optimistic in the requirements for a printer under $5000 printing watch parts at 20-50 microns. The ability to print with a smaller nozzle does not mean the quality of the print will be at a sufficient level or fit for purpose.

Yes there are 3D printed watches, but only at a much larger size, not to the scale of traditional mechanical watches.

In my limited experience, I would agree that the resolution does not aways make for a better print. I was lucky enough in my last full time to job to be able to test 5-6 printers that I would never normally be able to use with mixed results on each.

Ed: and what I mean is that the more expensive higher resolution printers did not always deliver a much greater experience and result as the mid range ones (talking in a range of £1-8k)


So far two 3d Printers show interest.


  1. Monoprice does a 20 micron using Filament.

  2. Form Labs does a 20 micron using Resin.

  3. = 700$ / 20$~ Filament

  4. = 3,500$ / 150$ to 400$~ 1L Resin (proprietary)

Problem with Monoprice is it’s a hit or a miss with their products and complex Miniatures like:


…can be a problem as you might get “ribbing” on the model.

The only issue with the form 2 is its expense…

I wish I could see a demo miniature printed with the monoprice model with close up details.

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