This is a concept I'm going to refer to as 'Skinning'. Printing the outer layers at a very thin height, while printing the inner layers at a thicker height. For example, one could print an object where the perimeter is printed with 0.25mm layers, but the inside is printed with 0.5mm layers.
|Cross-section of a 'Skinned' print - note fine threads on front and thicker threads inside.|
This would require printing at least two perimeter layers (probably first) for every inner layer, but that shouldn't be a problem.
I've been developing some simple test scripts that take the GCode for a simple sliced object and 'skin' it with an external layer half the carve height. The script is rather basic, but the initial results look very promising.
|Left: 'Skinned' Cube 0.25mm external 0.5mm internal - Right: 0.25mm external & internal.|
The 0.25mm default cube took 21m 30s to print, a 0.5mm default cube took 10m 0s to print, where as the hybrid 'skinned' cube took 16m 0s to print. The quality is not quite as good as the Skeinforge carved 0.25mm cube (the translucent PLA makes it hard to see), but my script just scaled the extrusion parameters from the 0.5mm carved cube as a quick and dirty test, it also doesn't take into account that the new perimeter paths are slightly longer (or shorter for the internal ones) than the 0.5mm carve.
Now that I know the concept works I'll work on refining the script to correctly adjust the extrusion rate for the skin height.
It's something that I'd like to turn into a Skeinforge plug-in and make part of the tool chain, it would probably much easier to handle the data within Skeinforge than trying to post-process it.
Eventually every print will look like it was printed with the finest nozzle, but take significantly less time!