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The 3D Benchy Boat: A Must-Print Torture Test for 3D Printers

Author: Teaching TechTime: 2024-01-05 20:20:01

Table of Contents

What is a 3D Benchy?

The 3D Benchy is a small boat model designed specifically as a 3D printer test object. Known officially as the '3D Benchmark Boat', its name comes from the fact that it provides a benchmark to assess the performance and print quality of desktop 3D printers.

This deceptively simple-looking model incorporates a range of features that enable detailed analysis of different aspects of a 3D print. The 3D Benchy has become phenomenally popular on sites like Thingiverse, with over 50,000 likes and the highest number of prints of any model.

Popularity and Purpose of the 3D Benchy

The 3D Benchy stands out by being far more interesting to look at than typical mechanical test models, with a charming nautical theme. This makes it less likely to be discarded after printing. The variety of accessories and customization options available also add to its appeal. More importantly, the carefully designed geometry of the 3D Benchy boat provides a comprehensive test covering all key aspects of 3D printing. As a compact single print, it can assess print quality and calibration across a wider range of metrics compared to printing separate dedicated test models.

Key Features of the 3D Benchy Design

The 3D Benchy incorporates small-scale features for testing fine detail resolution, overhangs and bridges to assess print cooling, sloped and vertical surfaces to reveal layer misalignments, dimensional accuracy benchmarks, pointers for tuning flow rate and acceleration, and more. The website 3dbenchy.com provides an excellent interactive guide highlighting each test feature.

Using the 3D Benchy to Evaluate and Improve Print Quality

Examining the First Layer

Like any 3D print, the very first layer put down by the nozzle has an important influence on adhesion and overall print success. The etched text on the underside of the 3D Benchy provides ample geometric complexity to judge the quality of the first extruded layer. Well-tuned first layer height should show distinct lines that have properly melted together into solid letters. By contrast, gaps between lines indicate nozzle height needs to be lowered towards the print surface, while over-squashed layers reveal the nozzle height should be increased.

Checking Temperature, Cooling, and Surface Finish

The hull of the 3D Benchy is an ideal area for detecting print artifacts from suboptimal temperature or cooling. The curved slope can exhibit visible 'stairstepping' if cooling is not keeping pace with hot extrusion, while radiant heating of the thin lower hull can also impact overhang quality. Higher parts like the cabin and chimney allow assessment of cooling on narrower features typical of intricate prints. Signs of inadequate cooling include blobby surfaces rather than clean corners and edges. This can frequently be addressed by improving part cooling fan performance.

Tuning Retraction with the 3D Benchy

As the print head moves between distinct islands of the model during printing, correct retraction settings are essential to avoid leaving strings of plastic behind. The cabin windows and mast of the 3D Benchy provide challenging locations to test for stringing. Excess material strings inside cabin windows or between mast and deck are clear visual indicators more retraction may be necessary. Fine-tuning retract length and speed while observing stringing on these features enables dialing in the optimal retraction settings.

Benchmarking Print Speed with the 3D Benchy Boat

A popular challenge among 3D printing enthusiasts is to print the 3D Benchy model as quickly as possible while still retaining acceptable quality.

Specialized Benchy Speedboat competitions judge contestant prints based on a blend of speed and prescribed dimensional accuracy and other standards. Pushing print speeds to the limit accentuates small deficiencies in printer mechanics and control systems, while still revealing if acceptable overall performance is possible at challenging velocities.

Going Further: Advanced Uses and Challenges

For those seeking greater 3D Benchy adventures, the modular design enables swapping parts like the mast and smokestacks to test precision insertion of printed components.

Taking the difficulty up a level, printing without supports, scaling to different sizes, exploring different filament materials, alternative infills, and using higher detail settings can all provide additional learning opportunities.

Conclusion: An Essential Free Test Model

As a whole, the 3D Benchy has cemented itself as an iconic, multipurpose printable carrying meaningful indicator value beyond being simply a mechanical test artifact. The appealing boat design and existing popularity increases the value of comparing benchmarks.

For new users and experienced makers alike, this free model incorporates an impressive range of analysis and diagnostic potential into a single print. As 3D printers themselves evolve in capability and accessibility, the 3D Benchy continues finding new waters to chart.


Q: Why is the 3D Benchy so popular?
A: The 3D Benchy blends useful test features with an endearing, recognizable boat design. It packs comprehensive diagnostics into a compact, quick print.

Q: What are the key things to check on a 3D Benchy print?
A: Nozzle height, temperatures, cooling, retraction, overhangs, bridges, accuracy, surface finish, and more can all be evaluated with a properly tuned 3D Benchy boat.

Q: Can I print the 3D Benchy quickly?
A: Yes, there are speedboat races dedicated to pushing 3D printer speed while preserving quality. With a well tuned machine, 6 minute prints are achievable.