When you really want to print some detail in a 3D printed part using plastic filament, you need to understand what temperature the material prints best. Granted, PLA typically likes 190 degrees C and ABS likes about 230 degrees C, but each spool can vary on its optimal print temperature.
That is where a temperature tower comes in. This model has multiple strata of identical elements. Each one is printed at a different temperature. There are several designs out in various repositories, but the one I created looks like:
This is shown with an X-ray view so you can see some of the internal components.
This design was based on one I found but I added two horizonal elements on each ‘layer’. One that in 0.5 mm and one that is 1.0mm thick. There is also the temperature value embossed in the layer that it will be printed at – to do this, you need to go in and modify the G-code. Each layer is 5 mm tall. This model demonstrates printing ranging from 220 – 185 (for PLA).
Below are some that I actually printed. One from some white PLA and another in black. You cannot really see the quality differences in the picture, but the white likes to be printed at a slightly higher temperature.
I can tell by the detail loss of the small cones designed into the ends. When it is too hot, they sort of sag. When it is too cold, the layers become more distinct.
I have another temperature tower design for ABS and PETG that covers the range from 260-230.
Once I figure out the right temperature for the material, I write it on the spool.