In this article, we take a deep-dive into how to 3D print faster.
There are a few reasons to learn how to increase the speed of your 3D printer.
You may need to increase your print speed because the demand for your product has increased, and you want to increase your capacity on your existing equipment.
Or you may have calculated that by increasing your print speed, you can start the new 3D print before heading home in the evening, thus avoiding substantial downtime.
Beginners are often surprised by the length of time required to 3D print a part from start to finish.
Either way, what you choose of the following will depend on your application, and how much you are willing to sacrifice quality for speed.
But as most of us have learned at some point, one of the 8 wastes in lean manufacturing is work that is better or to a higher quality than is required - so hopefully you'll find that making some of these changes still gives a completely acceptable quality.
And one of the great points of 3D printing is your ability to iterate. Make an adjustment, make a change, and learn what works in your application.
Luckily, if you're wanting to learn how to increase the speed of your 3D printer, you're probably looking at learning for the long-term - not just for a single print file, printed once.
It's worth experimenting a little to understand the impact of the suggestions below.
3D print faster with a bigger nozzle size
The first place to start is increasing your nozzle size. Most 3D printers have a nozzle with a diameter of 0.4 mm, but you can increase the size of the nozzle to improve print speed.
A larger nozzle can extrude more plastic per second, meaning that objects can be printed faster. In addition, a larger nozzle produces less friction, which can further improve print speed.
It is important to note that increasing the size of the nozzle will also increase the amount of plastic used, and it may also produce prints with less precision.
It is important to strike a balance between speed and quality when choosing a nozzle size. However, specially if you’re new to 3D printing, it’s quite likely that a bigger nozzle will work fine.
Other than hardware changes like the nozzle size, 3D print speed is often determined by the slicer settings. These include changing the 3D printer's acceleration and jerk settings, or changing the layer height.
The slicer's acceleration and jerk settings can impact both 3D print speed and quality, so it is important to get them right. These settings control how fast the printer head moves and how much force is applied when changing direction. The acceleration setting, in particular, controls how fast your 3D printer gets up to speed.
If these settings are too high, the print quality will suffer. The slicer will have a hard time keeping up with the movements of the print head, resulting in missed steps and a less precise print. On the other hand, if these settings are too low, the print will take longer to complete and use more filament. The key is to find a balance that results in the best print quality in the shortest amount of time. Go ahead and experiment with different values and see what works best for your specific printer and slicing software.
Adjust the layer height for faster 3D printing. Changing the layer height can help to increase print speed, but you'll have to consider whether you're sacrificing necessary quality. Increasing the layer height will result in fewer layers being needed, and give you a much faster print. However it is not appropriate in every application, specially if your need a very fine finish.
3D printer speeds: does infill pattern make a difference?
3D Print Beast has an interesting article comparing the speed of different infill patterns. They found that a zig-zag pattern was the hands down winner, as far as speed goes. Again, you'll have to consider your unique needs: you lose some strength when you use a zig-zag infill instead of a hexagon, but if you're printing items where speed is more important, a zig-zag infill will help you 3D print faster.
Lower infill density to increase 3D print speed
When 3d printing an object, one of the factors that determines the print time is the infill density. This is the percentage of the object's volume that is filled with material, and it directly impacts how long the print will take. Higher infill densities will result in a longer print time, but they can also make the finished object stronger and more rigid. For some applications, such as prototypes or low-strength parts, a lower infill density may be sufficient. However, for objects that need to be strong and durable, a higher infill density is usually necessary.
Learn how to strategically reduce the amount of support material
One way to increase the speed of a 3D printer is to reduce the amount of support material that is used. Support is the material that holds up a model as it prints, and it is typically made from the same material as the model - and also, typically only necessary for areas of the print that are not in contact with the build plate. By reducing the amount of support material, it is possible to print faster, as well as having less post-processing to do once the print is complete. However, using less support can decrease the quality of the print. In addition, it can also make the print more fragile and susceptible to breakage. As a result, it is important to balance the need for speed with the need for quality when using a 3D printer. Using less support can help to increase print speed, but as always, it is important to consider the trade-offs before doing so. Of course, you can't just do away with all the support without checking, or you could have a print fail.
Use the Analyze tool within 3DPrinterOS' Layout application before you print; it will tell you if the walls are slanted and you need support.
Can you re-orientate your part for faster 3D printing?
Even the orientation of your 3D print part can significantly impact the print speed. In general, parts that are oriented parallel to the build platform will print faster than those that are oriented perpendicular to the platform. This is because the printer head can move more quickly when it is traveling in a straight line. In addition, parts that are oriented parallel to the build platform are less likely to warp or deform during printing. As a result, parallel orientation is often the best choice for large or complex parts.
Multiple prints at a time can increase your overall 3D print speed
One of the keys to reducing 3D print time is to print multiple parts on the build tray. This allows the printer to work on more than one part at a time, which can reduce the overall printing time by up to 50%. In addition, it can help to evenly distribute the heat generated by the printer, which can prevent warping and other deformities. When printing multiple parts, it is important to use support structures and/or rafts to ensure that the parts do not shift during printing. With proper planning and execution, printing multiple parts on the build tray can be an effective way to reduce 3D print time.
Decide whether sub-assemblies are faster or not If you decide not to run multiple parts on the build tray, or if your parts are too large to allow you to, consider breaking it down into sub-assemblies.
3D printers have come a long way in recent years, but one of the limitations is still the amount of time it takes to print a large object. You can reduce 3D printing time by using sub-assemblies. This involves printing smaller parts of the object separately and then assembling them together. This can be done by using two different materials for the body and the connectors, or by printed the connectors separately and attaching them after the body is printed. By using sub-assemblies, it is possible to drastically reduce printing time without sacrificing quality. In addition, this technique can be used to create complex objects that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to print in one piece.
Again, you'll have to consider your own situation: are you needing to reduce just the 3D printing time?
Perhaps because of a lack of admins to monitor the 3D printers? Or are you wanting to reduce the time of the whole? If you want fewer hours on the 3D printer, it might make sense to have sub-assemblies. However if that creates a need of more hands-on work later in assembling the parts, take a good hard look at whether making the 3D printer faster is actually the answer. It may be better overall to commit to a longer 3D print time, with less assembling after.
So to wrap up! Each of these tips and tricks could be expanded in on into its own guide. Go ahead and start running your own experiments, to fine-tune how quickly you can 3D print without sacrificing quality.