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I have a new Prusa i3 MK3 and I have noticed that my prints consistently turn out worse on 0.05 mm layer heights than on 0.10 mm. The edges of the 0.05 mm prints turn out rough and sometimes stringy.

Detail of a 0.05 mm layer height printed model

Seems similar to a retraction problem but I never have this issue on 0.10 mm prints with the same retraction settings.

What might be causing this issue?

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  • $\begingroup$ What slicing software are you using, and what other settings change when you change the layer height? -- and what's your nozzle diameter? $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Nov 20 '18 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft I'm using slic3r and everything default on the i3 mk3 other than changing the retraction to 1.2mm from 0.9mm $\endgroup$ – Qwertie Nov 22 '18 at 7:52
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When printing at small layer heights (high resolution), you probably need to do some test prints first to see if your normal settings work for the lower layer height. You are most probably experiencing an increased pressure build-up in the nozzle due to the nozzle being closer to the bed. A test that might be useful for you is spacing several objects at different distances to see if the retraction, which you already suspect, may be not working optimally or that the nozzle leaks/oozes an excess amount of filament due to pressure build-up. This shows an example of such a test where the nozzle shows oozing.

Effect of object distance

Tuning the extruder to alleviate the pressure could be:

  • an increased retraction length, and/or
  • retraction speed, or
  • looking into the option called coasting where you stop extruding before the printer reaches the end of the deposition path while it still prints material caused by the pressure build-up.

Tuned extruder


When printing at 0.05 mm on my home-build CoreXY I experience much smoother prints opposed to printing in higher layer heights (less resolution), but I also get some very fine stringing, noticeable when printing multiple objects or objects with voids.

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One thing that I have learned in my extensive youtubing is that sometimes the hot end can soften the previous layers. Though, take the following advice with a grain of salt as the following is just conceptual for me (I'm still waiting for my first printer to arrive to follow this advice).

Tomb of 3D Printed Horrors has a pretty good video on printing D&D miniatures that require high detail at small sizes (particularly at the 2 minute mark). His recommendation is to have 0.2 mm thick lines as thinner lines are more susceptible melting when the hot end is laying down subsequent layers. Thicker layers means more plastic to absorb the heat and less deformity. This is probably why your 0.1 mm lines look better than your 0.05 mm lines.

Another fix is to keep print speeds somewhat normal or slightly slow. A faster print head heats the previous layers less and can counteract the issue. Running at 60 mm/s may be too quick for quality prints, but running at 10 mm/s is too slow and can reheat the lower layers. Keeping an "average" pace paired with thick enough lines could help you get the prints you want. Though, finding what speeds/thickness is up to you. I don't have the experience to suggest any at the moment.

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  • $\begingroup$ If you lay down more material (so thicker layers), the heat input is larger to the already deposited layers. Your statement: Thicker layers means more plastic to absorb the heat and less deformity. is incorrect. $\endgroup$ – 0scar Dec 19 '18 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ you might want to link to which videos you refer to $\endgroup$ – Trish Dec 20 '18 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ @0scar I disagree. Thermodynamics state that the specific heat capacity changes as the mass changes. My statement may not be as poignant as desired, but I was trying to put it in layman's terms. That with thicker layers, there's more mass and the plastic of previous layers won't reach high enough temperatures to deform the model. I think we're saying the same thing. $\endgroup$ – Lux Claridge Dec 20 '18 at 14:16

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