Micrometer – What does the resolution specification mean?

The resolution of 3D printers is usually specified in micrometers. It can sometimes be hard to imagine anything underneath. For this reason, this article clarifies what a micrometer is and which objects from our nature are how many micrometers in size.

What is a micrometer?

A micrometer is a unit of length and determines the millionth part of a meter. In terms of millimeters, this is the thousandth part and corresponds to the value 0.001 mm. It is often used when measuring the wavelengths of infrared rays or as a size specification in biology. There, the size of cells and bacteria is given in micrometers. In the old linguistic usage, a micrometer was also often called a micron, which is why some 3D printer manufacturers still use the term micron today.

The symbol for the prefix micro- is the Greek letter μ, pronounced “Mü”.

Sizes of objects compared to resolutions of known 3D printers

To give you an idea of what a μm is, I compare some 3D printers and objects from the environment in the following table.

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