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3D Print
Savvy Tips & Helpful Hints

How Long Does it Take to 3D Print?

3D printing is the ideal way to bring your imagination to life. Making these creations is a very exciting process. But it poses an important question. How long will it take to make a print?  There are a few elements that will determine this. Let’s delve deeper into this aspect so you know what to expect. 

Size of the Object

This is the most important element. This will determine the amount of time required to craft each layer. In this area, you should focus on the height of the object, rather than the width. Usually, the taller it is, the more layers will be required. If you want to speed up the print speed when making larger objects, you can change the infill method. 

This describes what the inside of the object would look like if you cut it open. Most people imagine that it will be made of solid plastic, but this isn’t usually the case. It’s more common to see something that looks like a honeycomb. The size of the honeycombs will vary, changing the weight and strength of the object. This article goes into more depth on the infill methods you can explore. 

Geometry

The complexity of the object you are creating will also impact how long it will take to print. For example, straight edges will be easier to print than rounded ones. 

Quality of the Print

The next thing you need to consider is the quality of the print. This is measured in microns. The more microns, the more detailed it will be. While this will look great, it also takes more time to print, as the printer needs to do more slices. You can adjust the quality of the print in the settings. 

The Printer You Are Using

While the type of print you are making is important, it’s only one part of the equation. You’ll also need to consider the type of printer you are using. There are a few things to consider if you want to get a fast printer. 

Speed Settings

The best place to start is by looking at the speed settings. This is measured in millimeters per second.  At the slower end, you will be able to get 40mm/s. However, the fastest machines will be able to deliver up to 150 mm/s. It should be noted that at these higher levels, there is a chance that speed quality could decline. 

Nozzle Size

One of the most commonly overlooked areas is the size of the nozzle. This determines the speed at which the plastic will be able to come out of the printer. Because of this, upgrading the nozzle will increase the amount of plastic you can release. 

Printing Style

Most printers can be grouped into two categories. They are either similar to paintbrushes or paint rollers. When working with paintbrushes, the filament will be coming out of one point of the nozzle. This is common in FDM printers. On the other hand, you have the paint roller style. The filament can come out of multiple parts of the nozzle, as it moves across the build plate. This is commonly seen in a PolyJet printer. Usually, it will be faster to get a paint brush-style printer. 

Type of 3D Printer

Finally, you might want to consider the type of 3D printer you are using. This can have the biggest impact on printing speed. If you want to make your creations faster, you might want to consider using a dual extruder printer. They can print two filaments at the same time. This isn’t just a good way of improving print speed, it can also be used as a way of getting more color into your prints. If you want some advice on how to find a good one, check out this list of dual-extruder 3D printers

Post Production Process

Though the printing might be finished that doesn’t always mean that a model is ready. You will need to do some basic post-production. How much work this will be will depend on the type of printer you are using. For example, SLA printers often work faster, but they will require more time in post-production. 

Once a print is finished, you’ll need to sand it off. This makes it smooth. You might also need to add some paint, to give your models some color. You can also add a layer of varnish. This gives it a shiny finish and offers more protection. 

Examples of Print Times

As we’ve seen, there are plenty of factors that will determine how fast you can create a print. But we can still look at some basic 3D printed items and give a rough approximation of how long they will take to create. 

Small items, like Lego bricks, will often take between 10 to 30 minutes. If you want something larger, like a child’s toy, you might be able to get it done in 5 hours. But if you want to make a complex part, like the costume of your favorite film character, you might need to break it into components, so it fits on the build plate. Sometimes, it can take days or weeks to complete these items.

Tips to Speed up the Process

There are a few simple ways you can speed up the speed at which you are printing. One of the best places to start is by looking at the infill. As we discussed, using a honeycomb pattern, rather than a solid fill, will save time and filament. You can also try printing multiple items in each setting. This saves you time, rather than waiting for the printer bed to warm up.  This article discusses some other techniques you can use. 

Conclusion

Multiple factors will determine how long it takes to produce a 3D print. Some of these factors, like the size of the object and the infill method, are easy to change. Others, like the type of printer, are a little more complex. Regardless, when you are using a 3D printer, it’s important to be patient. If you are making a large part, it’s normal for it to take a few hours to complete.

One Comment

  • Lauryn R

    This was very interesting to read about, 3D Printers are definitely really cool! My son has told me how much he would love to have one, to create things with. It seemed really complicated to me, but this post explained a lot. Thanks for sharing!

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