There’s no denying the wondrous potential that 3D printing has to offer the maker community, the opportunities are already plentiful and growing still. Still, when undertaking a project with your desktop printer, there are a number of nuanced factors that can make or break the final outcome. There are a handful of things to consider before hitting the print button, including the temperature of the extruder, the type of filament being used, the support quality, the printer itself, and more. That’s why it’s important to print a torture test, which a popularly used 3D file that tests calibration, dimensional accuracy, bridging, overhangs, negative space tolerances, mechanical resonance, and much more.

These tests are the benchmark of 3D printing quality, and are generally quick to print and easy to study upon completion. What can make selecting and printing a torture test a struggle, however, is that there’s no standard test that’s solely used throughout the industry. Instead, a wide variety of different torture tests have sprung up across the 3D printing community, from designers on Thingiverse to actual companies involved with 3D printing research. The good news is that a majority of these tests are extremely beneficial, some are focused in on certain aspects, while others try to incorporate as many factors as possible. The general idea is to fit as many extremities into a compact design as possible, essentially challenging the 3D printer as much as possible, which allows the user to zero in on every facet of the printing process.

Some companies, like 3DKitbash, have productized these torture tests by offering a wide range of designs. Their latest, the 3D Printer Test Kit 2.0, consists of ten different 3D printer test chips, each of which help tests certain aspects of the 3D printer. Others, like the 3D printing material research group 3D Matter or the extremely popular torture test #3DBenchy, have created all-encompassing designs that test the printer on every limit in one go-around.

#3DBenchy is a support-free (and cost-free) 3D sailboat design that includes a number of extreme geometries and factors that test the 3D printer, but only takes under two hours to produce. 3D Matter, on the other hand, created the Testman, a gopher-like character that is used to test the quality of the 3D printing filament rather than the 3D printer itself. With the help of Testman, 3D Matter has been putting together a database on 3D printed materials, aiming to show the world how to optimize the quality of every filament on the market.

Last year, Makezine created eight different design probes that tested the printer on each specific feature. The eight torture tests covered dimensional accuracy, bridging, overhang, negative space tolerance, retraction performance, XY resonance test, Z resonance test, and a Maker Faire Robot action figure that incorporates them all. On top of that, they also created a rating system to help 3D printing users actually gauge the quality of their 3D printer and filament. That way, it was possible to record the outcome of each test and compare as settings and factors are modified.

So, how do you decide which torture test is best for you? Well, in my opinion, it really all depends on the project you’re planning to undertake. If you’re utilizing a new 3D printer for the first time, it’s probably wise put you machine through an intensive test like the one designed by Makezine. If you’re looking for a quick and reliable option, #3DBenchy will provide you with a quick test to check every aspect of the printer’s capabilities and calibration.

3D Benchy as torture test for 3D printing

If you’re comfortable with the actual 3D printer, but are using a new and unique filament for the first time, 3D Matter’s Testman is exclusively made to test material quality. All in all, there are a number of routes to take when it comes to choosing a torture test, but that’s a good problem to have considering that there’s no such thing as over-testing your 3D printer.