Print modes & how it impacts your finished part

What are all these print modes? – A guide to using the correct print mode for your part

Stratasys PolyJet systems have come a long way over the past decade; from when Objet introduced the first multimedia printer in 2007, to the first multi-colour and multi-material printer by Stratasys in 2014, leading to today’s J750 with voxel print technology. PolyJet technology is now capable of superior aesthetic performance, producing models with advanced texture mapping and colour gradients. In addition, the Stratasys PolyJet systems feature different build modes which help you to get the most out of your print.

Here at the 3D Print Bureau, we try to select the most suitable build mode to produce a high quality print for the customer whilst managing the cost effectively. Our 3D print specialists have the expert knowledge required to guide you on what the best print mode will be, although sometimes it’s difficult to understand.

That’s why we’ve put together this handy post on the different build types so that next time you discuss the ins and outs of printing your part with our team, you’ll be clued up on what we’re talking about.

What is High Quality and High Speed Mode and how do they differ to Digital Mode?

High Quality and High speed mode are an alternative to digital mode and affect the number of heads used to print a single material. They have different accuracies, resolution and speed compared to digital mode and produce a slightly different outcome on your part.

High speed mode uses 27-micron layers to print models more quickly, whereas high quality mode uses 14 or 16 micron layers to give better resolution. High Quality mode is more suited to parts with finer features.

Digital mode is the most commonly used setting. It allows multiple materials to be printed at the same time, ‘digitally’ combining them to create other materials such as Digital ABS Plus, Flexible rubber like and colour models. The layer thickness is 27-30 microns and the resolution is the same as HQ/HS at 600 x 600 dpi except on the J750 where the XY resolution is the same, but the layer thickness is 14 microns in the high quality Digital setting.

Stratasys recommend a 1.2 mm feature for the materials to be combined in the correct ratio for an accurate ‘Digital’ material, except on the RGD5131-DM Digital ABS option where a 0.6 mm feature is possible. For full colour opacity on the J750 a 3 mm feature is recommended.

When would you recommend using these different modes?

High speed mode is generally okay for most models and it’s hard to see the difference between that and the high quality mode. However, high quality mode does create some minor differences which you wouldn’t notice with the naked eye.

If your part has a complex geometry, such as the curved surfaces of a computer mouse, using the high quality mode is best as it will reduce contouring/banding and other surface deformations that are a result of the limitation of the printers resolution.

Are there any negatives with either of these printing modes that customers should be aware of?

The increased curing time of the high quality mode can lead to brittle models, especially in Vero Black Plus, so we tend to recommend the high speed mode for that particular material.

Also, as mentioned above, if you have a model with fine features, it’s best not to use high speed mode as the part won’t be as higher resolution as it could be in high quality mode.

Overall, it’s generally a judgement call as you have to consider if the setbacks would outweigh the benefits of a particular build mode. Our 3D print team will be able to go through the pros and cons with you in detail.

Do all PolyJet systems support high speed and high quality mode?

All Connex systems and the J750 can be run in high speed and high quality mode, but changing the printer over from digital mode can be costly as a material changeover is required, especially when going from a dark to a light material or vice versa.

What resolution can you get on both High Speed and High quality mode?

The resolution in the XY is the same, 600 x 600 dpi. The Z resolution is higher in high quality mode because of the thinner layers.

Do either of these modes cost more for the customer?

Using high quality mode increases the print time and the number of times that the printer purges the heads. This adds to the material consumption for the whole build and therefore increases the cost.

We manage the systems we have to (almost) always have the right material, using the right print mode, to avoid material change over costs, but that could be a factor, sometimes several £100’s.

So there you have our expert 3D print team’s advice on what print modes to consider for your part. As a bureau service, our team are here to offer expert advice on how we can print your part to the very best standards whilst keeping the cost to a minimum. We hope our post will empower you to make your own decisions on how your part is printed and of course, our team are here to advise if you need it.

For more info, contact us on 01782 757320 or email