You’ve started 3D printing but you realize that prints take a lot longer than you expected. This is something that many people think about so they look for ways to speed up their 3D printer without sacrificing on print quality. I’ve looked into various methods to achieve this which I will explain in this post.
How do you speed up your 3D printer without losing quality? It’s possible to speed up 3D printing times without losing quality by carefully and gradually adjusting the settings in your slicer. The best settings to adjust to achieve this are the infill pattern, infill density, wall thickness, print speed, and trying to print multiple objects in one print.
It’s fairly simple but many people don’t know these techniques until they get more experience in the 3D printing world. I will detail how people in the 3D printing community achieve optimal printing times with their prints without sacrificing quality so keep reading to find out.
Pro Tip: If you want a great 3D printer with a high speed I’d recommend the Creality Ender 3 V2 (Amazon). It’s a great choice that has a maximum printing speed of 200mm/s and is loved by many users. You can also get it cheaper from BangGood, but usually with a slightly longer delivery!
8 Ways How to Increase Print Speed Without Losing Quality
For the most part, cutting down time on printing times comes to either increase your feed rate (rate at which material extrudes), or decreasing the amount of extrusion altogether.
Other factors do come into play so I will explain these in more details.
1. Increase Print Speed in Slicer Settings
Honestly speaking, print speed doesn’t have the most significant effect on print timing, but it will help overall. Speed settings in your slicer will help out more depending on how big the print is, where bigger objects see relatively more benefits in reducing printing times.
The good thing about this is being able to balance out the speed and quality of your prints. You can gradually increase your printing speed and see whether it actually has an effect on your print quality, many times you’ll have some room to increase it.
You’ll have multiple speed settings for specific parts of your object such as perimeters, infill and support material so it’s a good idea to adjust these settings to maximise your printer’s abilities.
My Speed Vs Quality article I wrote goes into some nice detail about the tradeoff between these two factors, so feel free to check that out.
Usually you would have a high infill speed, average perimeter and support material speed, then low small/external perimeter and bridges/gaps speed.
Your 3D printer will usually have guidelines on how fast they can go, but you can take extra steps to make it go faster.
This video below by Maker’s Muse goes into some detail about different settings that are very useful. He has his own template of settings that he implements which you can follow and see if it works well for yourself.
A good step to take to be able to increase printer speed is reducing the wobble of your printer by making it more sturdy. This can be in the form of tightening up screws, rods and belts or using parts that don’t weigh as much so there is less moments of inertia and resonance from vibrations.
These vibrations are what reduces quality in prints.
My post on 3D Printing & Ghosting/Rippling Quality Issues goes into a bit more detail on this.
It’s all about the movement efficiency that your printer can handle without sacrificing quality, especially with sharp corners and overhangs. Depending on the design of your product, you’ll have more room to increase your 3D printing speed without issues.
2. Acceleration & Jerk Settings
Jerk settings are essentially how fast your print head can move from a still position. You want your print head to move off smoothly rather than too quickly. It’s also the speed that your printer will immediately jump to before taking acceleration into account.
Acceleration settings are how how quickly your print head gets to it’s top speed, so having a low acceleration means your printer won’t get to it’s top speed with smaller prints.
I wrote a popular post on How to Get the Perfect Jerk & Acceleration Setting, which goes into nice depth to help improve your printing quality and experience.
A higher jerk value will reduce your printing time but it has other implications such as causing more mechanical stress to your printer, and possible decreasing print quality if too high because of the vibrations. You can strike a good balance to not have it affect quality.
What you want to do here is determine the optimal settings and you can do this by establishing an acceleration/jerk value that you know is too high (H) and too low (L), then working out the middle value (M) of the two.
Try printing with this middle value speed, and if you find M is too high then use M as your new H value, or if it’s too low then use M as your new L value then find the new middle. Rinse and repeat to find an optimal setting for each one.
Acceleration values won’t always stay the same as there are many factors that can affect it over time so it’s more of a range rather than a perfect number.
Test your jerk settings by printing the vibration test cube and seeing whether the vibrations are visible on each axis by inspecting the corners, edges and letters on the cube.
If there are vibrations on the Y axis, it will be seen on the X side of the cube, and vibrations on the X axis will be visible on the Y side of the cube.
You have this Max Speed Acceleration Calculator (scroll to the bottom) which tells you when your printer will hit your desired speed and for how long across an axis.
The curved yellow line represents the path of the effector end allowed by inertia, while the blue line is the speed that it tries to jerk up to. If you need speeds below the jerk speed, you lose out on precision.
This post on AK Eric done the tests and found that when comparing low (10) jerk values to high (40) ones, a 60mm/sec speed made no difference in the print timing but the lower value had better quality. But at a speed of 120mm/sec, the difference between the two jerk value had a 25% decrease in printing time but at the cost of quality.
3. Infill Pattern
When it comes to the infill settings, you have many infill patterns that you can choose from which have their own strengths and weaknesses.
You can definitely choose an infill pattern that prints faster than others, which can save much time on increasing that printing speed.
The best infill pattern for speed has to be the ‘lines’ pattern (also called rectilinear) due to its simplicity and lower amount of movements compared to other patterns. This pattern can save you up to 25% of printing time depending on your model.
Check out my article on the Best Infill Pattern for 3D Printing for some interesting details about those inner patterns of your 3D prints.
You would usually have to trade off strength with speed, so although there are patterns which are stronger, they will take longer to print than the lined pattern.
Again, it’s best to try to strike a balance between the desired strength of your prints and how quickly you want to print it. A good balanced infill pattern would be the grid pattern or triangles which both have a good mix of strength and don’t take overly long to print.
The infill pattern that has strength as its main strength would be the honeycomb pattern which is fairly detailed and requires your print head to make a lot more movements and turns than most other patterns.
4. Infill Density
As most people know, an infill density of 0% means the inside of your print will be hollow, while a 100% density means the inside will be solid.
Now having a hollow print will definitely mean less time spent printing because your printer has a lot less movement required to finish the print.
How you can save time here is striking a good balance of infill density to the needs of your print.
If you have a functional print that, let’s say, is going to hold up a television on the wall, you might not want to sacrifice infill density and strength to save on printing time.
But if you have a decorative print that is just for aesthetics, having a high infill density isn’t that necessary. It’s up to you to gauge how much infill density to use on your prints, but this is a setting that can somewhat reduce that printing time for you.
I wrote an article going over How Much Infill Density You Need which I’d recommend reading over for more info.
Through tests that many people have done, the most economic infill density range, balanced with good strength would have to be between 20% and 35%. Certain patterns can give amazing strength even with low infill density.
Even 10% with something like a cubic infill pattern works pretty well.
When you go above these values, the trade-off between material used, time spent and strength gains diminishes faster so it’s usually a better choice to stick with these infills depending on your purpose.
Another thing to know is that when you go into the higher ranges of infill density such as 80%-100% you don’t actually get much in return for how much material you are using. So in most cases, you want to avoid going to such high infill densities unless you have a purpose for an object that makes sense.
5. Wall Thickness/Shells
There is a relationship between wall thickness and infill density that you need to be aware of before changing these settings.
When you have a good ratio between these two settings it will ensure that your 3D model doesn’t lose it’s structural capabilities and allows the print to be successful.
It will be a gradual trial and error experience where you can note down the ratios that result in a failed print, and that perfect balance of great print quality and reduced print timing.
If you have settings with low infill density and low wall thickness, your prints will more likely to fail due to low strength so you only want to be adjusting these settings if you are creating products where strength isn’t necessary, such as prototypes and display models.
Decreasing the amount of shells/perimeters of your prints in the settings will speed up printing times for sure. You want to play around with these settings to find what numbers give you a good amount of strength, while keeping it as low as you can.
2 vertical shells and 3 top and 3 bottom horizontal shells should do just fine for your prints.
Sometimes you can get issues with your walls and shells, so I wrote a post about How to Fix Gaps Between Walls & Infill for some troubleshooting methods.
6. Dynamic Layer Height/Adaptive Layers Settings
Layer heights can actually be automatically adjusted depending on the angle of the layer. It’s called adaptive layers or dynamic layer height which is a great feature you can find in Cura. It can speed up and save you a decent amount of printing time rather than using the traditional layering method.
How it works is it determines which areas have significant curves and variations, and prints thinner or thicker layers depending on the area. Curved surfaces will print with thinner layers so they still look smooth.
In the video below, Ultimaker made a video on Cura which demonstrates the excellent ability for this setting to save you printing time.
They printed a chess piece with and without the Adaptive Layers setting and recorded the time. With normal settings, the print took 2 hours and 13 minutes, with the setting on, the print took just 1 hour and 33 minutes which is a 30% reduction!
7. Print Multiple Objects in One Print
Another method to speed up printing time is to utilise all the space on your printer bed rather than doing one print at a time.
A good way to achieve this is to use the centre and arrange function in your slicer. It can make a significant difference with printing speed and avoids you having to reset then reheat your printer which takes up valuable time.
Now you won’t be able to do this with prints that use more than half the print space, but if you’re printing small prints you should be able to copy and paste the design multiple times on your print bed.
Depending on the design of your prints, you can play around with the orientation so you can utilise your print space in an optimal fashion. Make use of the height of your print bed and so on. When it comes to smaller printers, you won’t be able to do this method as good as larger printers, but it should still be more efficient overall.
8. Removing or Reducing Supports
This one is fairly self-explanatory in how it saves printing time. The more support material your printer extrudes, the longer your prints will take so it’s a good practice printing objects that don’t require supports at all.
There are various techniques you can take on board to design objects that don’t need support, or takes a majority of it away.
Many designs that people create are made specifically so they don’t require supports. It’s a very efficient way of 3D printing and usually doesn’t sacrifice in quality or strength.
Increasing Print Speed With A Quality Reduction
1. Use a Larger Nozzle
This is a simple method to increase your print speed and feed rate. Using a larger nozzle is an easy way to print objects faster but you will see a reduction in quality in the form of visible lines and rougher surfaces.
When you print with lets say, a 0.2mm nozzle, you’re placing fine layers each time you go over the printing surface, so getting a 1mm height will take 5 extrusion movements over the area.
If you’re not sure how often to change your nozzles, check out my article When & How Often Should You Change Your Nozzle On Your 3D Printer? Many people have found it helpful to get to the bottom of this question.
In comparison to a 0.5mm nozzle it would only take 2 so you can see how nozzle size largely affects printing times.
Nozzle size and layer height do have a relationship, where the general guidelines is for you to have a layer height which is at most 75% of the nozzle’s diameter.
So with a 0.4mm nozzle, you’d have a layer height of 0.3mm.
Increasing your print speed and reducing your quality doesn’t have to be a downside.
Depending on what your model is and your design wants, you can choose different nozzle sizes to your advantage.
A print with thin layers is more likely to have a negative effect on the firmness of the final object so when you want strength, you can pick a larger nozzle and increase the layer height for a tougher foundation.
If you need a set of nozzles for your 3D printing journey, I’d recommend the TUPARKA 3D Printer Nozzle Kit (70Pcs). It comes with a whopping 60 MK8 nozzles, which fits your standard Ender 3, CR-10, MakerBot, Tevo Tornado, Prusa i3 and so on, along with 10 nozzle cleaning needles.
In this competitively priced nozzle kit, you’re getting:
- 4x 0.2mm nozzles
- 4x 0.3mm nozzles
- 36x 0.4mm nozzles
- 4x 0.5mm nozzles
- 4x 0.6mm nozzles
- 4x 0.8mm nozzles
- 4x 1mm nozzles
- 10 cleaning needles
2. Increase Layer Height
In 3D printing the resolution, or quality of your printed objects are usually determined by the layer height you set. The lower your layer height, the higher definition or quality that your prints will come out, but it results in a longer printing time.
For example, if you print at a 0.2mm layer height for one object, then print the same object at a 0.1mm layer height, you effectively double the printing time.
Prototypes and functional prints that aren’t seen much don’t usually need to be of high quality so using a higher layer height makes sense.
If you’re looking to print an object that will be displayed, you want it to be aesthetically pleasing, smooth and of great quality, so these are better printed at finer layer heights.
With practice and experience, you’ll find a great layer height that gives you both great quality, and a reasonable printing time but it really depends on your preference and the use of your prints.
Using just one or a mixture of these methods should have you saving plenty of time in your 3D printing journey. Over the span of years, these techniques can easily save you hundreds of printing hours so learn them well and implement it where you can.
When you take the time to learn these things, it really improves the overall performance of your prints, because it helps you to understand the foundations of 3D printing.