My house is full of 3D Benchies. There are Benchies on every flat surface. There’s a row of Benchies perched along the top of my notice board. I have a bag of surplus Benchies in the shed, in case I buy a new piece of furniture that has space for Benchies on top. So, although they’re definitely a great way to check the performance of a 3D printer, I don’t have any great urge to print more Benchies right now.
Of course I will print more Benchies, because they’re just too useful, but I thought I’d have a look at some alternative 3D Printer Benchmarks too. After some digging on Thingiverse I found three that looked interesting. Here’s what happened when I printed them.
My first test was a small temple. This is fairly intricate, with steps round the bottom, some slender pillars, then a series of arches holding up the dome. It’s also tiny – not much over an inch tall – so once I’d printed one I scaled it up to 200% in Cura and printed another.
My first, small, attempt at this showed some signs of warping on the base, but it wasn’t serious. Apart from that it turned out quite nicely, with crisply printed steps and a smooth dome. Then I tried a larger one, and discovered a couple of little issues.
The hexagonal base clearly wasn’t adhering to the bed very well, and I got much more serious warping this time round. Three sides showed signs of lifting away from the bed, by almost 1mm in one case. Worse, when the print head had almost reached the top of the pillars it snagged on one and snapped it off. I suspect the base had warped a little more at that point, just enough to lift the pillar into the head’s path. I let it keep printing, though, and it recovered fairly well. There were some loose strands of plastic dangling from the arch, but it managed the dome just fine.
With that out of the way I gave the print bed a shot of 3D Lac and tried again. This one came out perfectly. The base is perfectly flat, the steps are immaculate and the only blemish on the dome is the zip-like line of layer changes.
This little cube is advertised as “the perfect torture test for your 3D printer”, and it certainly packs a lot into its one-inch faces. As 3D Printer Benchmarks go we thought this one would be perfect. There are vertical pillars, three overhangs and three bridges, plus a few other complicated bits. I loaded it up and printed one off.
Well, I tried. As you can see I had some adhesion problems again:
That’s nothing we can’t fix, though. Another squirt of 3D Lac and the Ender 3 turned out an almost perfect cube. There was one loose strand on the longest bridge; the rest was immaculate. Not so much a torture test as a mild irritation test, I’d say.
This mutant Trivial Pursuit piece is small, but – not to put too fine a point on it – bloody complicated. Its segments are filled with text, small shapes, even smaller holes and, worst of all, four sections of 3D matrices ranging from a simple honeycomb to a fiendishly complex geodesic lattice. This really is a torture test, and the Ender 3 got a real workout.
To its credit, it handled most of this hellish object pretty well. The basic shape was fine, the holes all printed perfectly and, apart from a couple it simply didn’t bother with – presumably because they were too small to print with a 0.4mm nozzle – it did all the tiny shapes, too. It did struggle with the matrices though. The honeycomb was perfect and one of the simpler lattices was acceptable, but the two more complicated lattices were showing some issues. Everything seems to be there, but there’s also a significant amount of stringing. I’d like to try again with tweaked retraction settings to see if I can clear that up.
I think all of these 3D Printer Benchmarks are worth doing every few months, just to give your 3D printer a test that isn’t a 3D Benchy. If it can reproduce all of them as well as our Ender did, you probably don’t have any significant issues. And if you can get the Opticon to turn out perfectly, please let us know how you managed that!