How Fast is a 3D Printer?


3D printers are growing in popularity and are developing at a fast right, but how fast are 3D printers themselves? There are many speeds that 3D printers can move, some faster than others, so this article will explain how fast a 3D printer can really print.

3D printers are known as rapid prototyping and work very fast when it comes to thinking of an idea, then building a part or object in just a few hours.

How Fast Are 3D Printers?

3D printers are both fast and slow when it comes to their working. It all depends on you what kind of material and object you want to print through them.

When you think about the ability to create an object in real-time at home, and have an object or model right before your eyes, 3D printers are very fast in that regard.

On the other hand, when thinking about large-scale production and manufacturing, 3D printing isn’t going to do much for you. It works a lot better for unique, personalized, customizable objects in terms of speed, compared to rapid production to a larger scale.

Some 3D printers are built to 3D print small objects fast, while others are built to create a whole build plate of objects fast. You can choose a 3D printer to suit your needs to boost how fast you are 3D printing.

Now let’s talk about the actual 3D printing of objects.

If the object is simple, without complexity and requires less material to build, it will be done in less time.

So we can look towards the size of the object (30% scale vs 150% scale), the height of each layer put down (0.2mm vs 0.6mm), the size of your nozzle (0.2mm vs 1mm) the density of infill of your model (5% vs 50%), the list goes on.

3D printer can be relatively fast, as long as you tune up your settings and reduce the complexity of your models. 3D printing objects that don’t need supports are going to make things quicker.

Choosing a style of 3D printer or even the 3D printing technology itself is going to have a large impact on how fast your 3D printer is.

3D prints can take anywhere from a few minutes to several days, and even longer!

With all this information in mind, let’s first look into the 3D printing technologies and how fast they are.

Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) 3D Printers

This is hands down the most popular type of 3D printer out on the market today, with several manufacturers coming out of nowhere, producing FDM 3D printers like crazy.

There has to be at least 100 different manufacturers who create FDM 3D printers, but the ones who really have a hold in the market, are around 5 companies.

The reason why FDM 3D printing is so popular is its simplicity, ease of manufacturing, ease of use, and cost effectiveness. It works by extruding heated thermoplastics (PLA, ABS, PETG) through a print head and nozzle, layer-by-layer to produce a 3D printed object.

In terms of speed, FDM 3D printers can really give other 3D printing technologies a run for their money since we can do some really large-scale projects.

Have you ever heard of a 3D printed house? They use FDM-type technology and a really large nozzle to extrude concrete and other material layer by layer, creating a beautiful home at the end of the printing process.

For desktop 3D printers, the average speed you’ll hear about is around 40-60mm/s up to 150mm/s.

FDM is great for rough prototypes, but not ideal for models with finer features.

When talking about raw speed, FDM definitely takes the win on scalability, but if you want to factor in speed & quality, I’d have to look towards another type of 3D printing technology.

Stereolithography (SLA) 3D Printers

This is one of the more complex 3D printing technologies that have been growing in popularity. SLA 3D printing works by curing a liquid photopolymer resin with a laser producing concentrated levels of light directed on a build surface.

It isn’t as fast as FDM 3D printing because it takes a relatively long time for the light to cure each layer.

SLA is better for bigger batches of parts and print times per part decrease rapidly when adding many prints.

The main benefits of SLA 3D printing is just how much of a improvement you get in print quality. You can easily 3D print objects that don’t show layer lines whatsoever, but it comes at the cost of speed.

These types of 3D printers in recent years were quite expensive, and even entry-level SLA 3D printers would cost a small fortune, but they have gotten to a price point in the same range as FDM.

The SLA comes with a printing speed of 20-36mm/hour.

With SLA printing, the laser draws out each part out of your model, so they are great for smaller or medium-sized objects. For larger objects, you might want to go with the next 3D printing technology below.

Digital Light Processing (DLP) 3D Printers

We can tell, since its in the name, that DLP 3D printing also uses light to create 3D printed models, in a very similar way to SLA 3D printing.

The main difference with DLP 3D printing is that it cures whole layers at once by projecting the concentrated light in the shape of your model to harden the resin and cure it at all the points at the same time.

This is an amazing feature because you could have a really large DLP 3D printer, fill up the whole build plate with really dense 3D prints, and it won’t make a difference in printing time versus a single, small object in the middle.

The only factor that increases printing time for DLP 3D printing technology is the Z-height of your model.

FormLabs have a great article on SLA Vs DLP Printers, with illustrations and simple explanations.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D Printers

Most people won’t really hear about SLS 3D printers because they are more used in an industrial application. The most common materials you will find in this field is nylon/polyamide in power form.

This 3D printing technology also uses a high-powered laser to fuse tiny particles together to gradually create a hardened 3D printed object.

SLS know as Selective Laser Sintering, whose main material is nylon/polyamide in powdered form.

It uses a high powered laser to fuse together small particles of the materials.

You will find SLS used in healthcare, electronics, automotive and in the aviation industry. They are relatively big machines and do come with a hefty price tag too.

Since SLS parts are supported by the surrounding power, you don’t actually need to implement supports which helps speed up the overall print.

Printing Speed of 3D Printers

 FDMSLASLS
Small Part150 - 340 minutes75 - 350 minutes120 - 200 minutes
Medium Part420 - 1,275 minutes150 - 660 minutes660 minutes
Multiple Parts21 Parts
690 - 1,710 minutes
33 - 81 minutes per part
12 parts
90-420 minutes
7.5 - 35 minutes per part
300 parts
2,400 minutes (40 hours)
8 minutes per part

Source: FormLabs | YouTube

SLS 3D printing has speeds up to 48mm/h

Is SLA Printing Faster Than FDM?

Is 3D Printing Fast?

Are Delta 3D Printers Faster?

Delta Printers work within the Cartesian plane, but they use a different system to navigate and locate the print head.

It comes with three arms on rail, and you might have noticed it dies not to move along XYZ rods but has a triangle movement with the help of three vertical posts.

The Delta 3D printers are faster than other printers available to you in the market because:

  • They are designed in this way to provide quick printing.
  • Delta 3D Printers come with lighter tool heads for a quicker printing process.
  • You might have to fiddle with the printer settings depending on the type of printer you bought.
  • It provides you a prints speed up to 300 mm/s, which is not usual, and all prints look fantastic.

What is a Good 3D Printing Speed?

Choosing the right speed for the whole printing process is a challenge; however, after some trials and experiments, you can find the right optimal speed for the 3D printer.

A good 3D printing speed is one through which you are getting a smoothly finished print; your filament is depositing easily on the bed, and the shape of their print is not deformed.

For example, for FDM, the printing speed is divided into three groups, starting from first speed grouping, which contains speed from 40-50mm/s.

Then comes the second group, ranges the speed from 80-100mm/s, and then comes the faster group, which ranges up to 150mm/s.

The 40-60mm/s range is the average value, while 100mm/s is considered to be the good printing speed. As you cross 150mm/s in FDM, the quality of the print starts decreasing result in a poor finish.

The good 3D printing speed depends on various factors along with what you are trying to prints. A good 3D printing speed gives you:

  • No under or over extrusion
  • Proper layer adhesion
  • No deformation in the shape of a print
  • No visible layer lines
  • No rough Surfaces

How Long Does it Take to Make Something on a 3D Printer?

We all want the work to be done quickly, including me. However, 3D printing, like any other process, will take time.

According to the research done and experiments performed, 3D printing takes time between 30 minutes to 7 days.

For example, there are certain materials that are very common when it comes to 3D printing work. Their estimated printing time is given below:

  • A Lego (2×4) takes 4 minutes.
  • A cell phone case takes around 20-40 minutes
  • Small Toys like Strati, a car takes between 1 to 5 hours, but it all depends on complexity.
  • Turbo housing takes up to a 24 hours

It all depends on different aspects of the 3D print, which decides how much time is needed to print a 3D object. Those different aspects are:

  • The volume of the parts
  • Footprint(XY)
  • Height of the print
  • The complexity of Part’s geometry
  • Layer Height
  • Quantity of Prints
  • Post-Processing

How Can I Speed Up My 3D Printing Speed?

You can get your hands on many ways to increase your printing speed without affecting your print quality.

I will be briefly explaining all the possible ways which you can adopt to increase your print speed.

Increase Print Speed through Slicer Software

As a matter of fact, the print speed does not significantly affect the print timing. Every software comes with settings from where you can adjust the printing speed.

Always increase the speed with gradual intervals, while keeping an eye on the print quality.

Using a Bigger Layer Height and Bigger Nozzle

Bigger layer height helps you in decreasing the print time, which increases your printing speed.

If you are not that concerned about the accuracy of the print, you can use a bigger nozzle with a maximum layer height.

The maximum layer height is 75% of the nozzle diameter, which means if you are using a 0.8mm nozzle, you can build a layer of 0.6mm.

Adjusting the Jerk Settings

These settings basically help you to adjust the speed of how fast you want your print head to move from one position to another.

The smoother your print head will move, the more acceleration it will have, and you will witness an increase in printing speed.

Infill Pattern

There are various infill patterns, and you can always choose one from the settings depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the print.

Similarly, it allows you to choose that infill pattern, which can increase the printing speed by saving you time.

One of the best infill patterns for faster printing is the lines pattern. It can almost save up to 25% of your printing time.

Infill Density

If you go with a density of zero percent, it is obvious your printing work will be done faster, thus increasing the printing speed.

But it will make the print hollow from inside. What you can do is to maintain a balance between the density and the printing speed to get a strong print in less time.

Note: Speeding up the printer often damages the quality of the print. This is why you need to balance the quality while you are increasing the speed with gradual intervals.

Overall, the article gives you a complete view of how fast the 3D printers can go and what fasters affect the speed of printing. Moreover, you can view and implement the ways which can increase the printing speed without compromising on the quality of the print.

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