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Does Layer Height Affect 3D Print Overlays?

It's no secret that 3D printing is a fantastic technology, but many variables are involved with getting good prints. Layer height is one of the most critical ones, and selecting the right one can significantly improve the quality of your print.

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It’s no secret that 3D printing is a fantastic technology, but many variables are involved with getting good prints. Layer height is one of the most critical ones, and selecting the right one can significantly improve the quality of your print.

Layer height affects 3D print overlays. It has a noticeable effect on their strength and surface finish. Lower layer heights produce a higher-resolution and stronger print but take longer to print and use more filament.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of how changing your layer heights affects your prints. We’ve also included some tips on selecting the correct layer height and FAQs about common misconceptions related to layer heights. 

How Layer Height Affects 3D Prints

Layer height is the distance between each layer in a print. It’s measured in millimeters and can significantly impact the quality of your prints. Most printers allow you to adjust the layer height, but the right setting depends on what you are trying to achieve.

Layer height is critical for print quality, especially when printing high-quality prototypes. A lower layer height means a better quality print and vice versa.

A low layer height will produce a smooth finish with minimal visible layers, but it’s also more time-consuming. Conversely, the higher your layer height, the faster your print will be—your printer will have to print fewer layers on top of each other. Layer height also affects how much filament is used.

Factors such as speed adjustment or nozzle diameter can also affect printing time, so keep these settings in mind if you change them while printing.

According to recent research conducted by the University of California San Francisco engineering department, a layer height of 0.15 mm will produce the best results for printing high-quality prototypes. It will produce smooth surfaces and strong bonds between layers. At the same time, it will also print faster than higher resolutions like 0.05mm or less, which would take much longer due to its finer details.

Why Layer Height is Important

Layer height is an essential factor to consider when printing a three-dimensional object. It affects the print quality, how fast it prints, and the captured level of detail. The right layer height can also make a difference in resolution and surface smoothness.

Below are some impacts of layer height in 3D print overlays:

  • Print speed: A layer height that’s too thin can slow down the printing process. It’ll only be an issue if you’re looking to save time or money. Experiment with different speeds until you find one that works well for you. If using a faster print speed results in poor quality prints, then it may not be worth saving those few minutes per object. They could end up costing more than they’re worth when trying to sell them on Etsy/eBay.
  • Enhanced resolution: When you increase the layer height, the printer will lay down more filament at once, resulting in a higher resolution print. As a result, there’s less opportunity for wobble or inaccuracy with each successive layer.
  • Smoothing the surfaces: Larger layer height also means that each line is thicker, which can help smooth out any roughness or inconsistencies on the surface of your print. This is ideal for objects that will be seen from up close, such as figurines or models.

Tips for Choosing the Correct Layer Height

There’s no “one size fits all” setting for layer height. The correct height depends on the specific needs of each project. However, there are a few general tips that can help you choose the best height for your prints:

  • Consider the impact of layer height on print speed and resolution. Larger layer heights will make for faster printing speeds and reduced resolutions.
  • Be aware of how changing the layer height affects overall smoothness. Higher layer heights produce smoother surfaces, while lower ones can lead to more visible stair-stepping effects.
  • Remember that surface smoothness is more critical than layer height. This is especially true when finishing prints with sanding or painting. Experiment with different heights to find what works best for your purposes. Try a variety of heights and see how they impact the overall print quality.

Factors To Consider When Choosing a Layer Height

When choosing a layer height, there are a few factors you need to take into account:

Smaller objects can be printed with smaller layer heights getting more detail or resolution. However, larger objects may require a higher layer height to avoid excessive printing times. 

Additionally, if you’re looking for a smooth finish on your print, choosing a layer height that’ll produce smooth surfaces is essential.

FAQs About Layer Heights and 3D printing

  • What’s the best layer height for high-resolution prints? For high-resolution prints, it’s best to use a layer height that is as close to the resolution you want as possible. It’ll produce the most detailed and accurate results.
  • What’s the best layer height for fast prints? The best layer height for fast prints is usually around 0.25 mm or less. It’ll reduce printing time without sacrificing too much detail or quality.
  • Can I use a layer height smaller than 0.01 mm? Yes, it’s possible to use layer heights as small as 0.01 mm, but this may result in more smoothing artifacts and a loss of detail. For the highest quality prints, it’s recommended to stay within the range of 0.02-0.03 mm or higher.


Layer height affects the final print quality, and it’s essential to choose the correct height to get the best results.

Selecting a suitable layer height won’t only improve the print quality but can also help optimize the printing process. There are a few things to consider when selecting a layer height, such as print speed, surface finish, and resolution.

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About Ben

I started 3D printing since 2013 and have learned a lot since then. Because of this I want to share my knowledge of what I have learned in the past years with the community. Currently I own 2 Bambulab X1 Carbon, Prusa SL1S and a Prusa MK3S+. Hope you learn something from my blog after my years of experience in 3D printing.