Print speed tips

8 Top Tips to Improve 3D Printing Speed

3D printers can rapidly produce parts on a small scale, with most printed objects available within four hours. However, there are ways to improve print speeds even more and reduce the time to print completion. 

Although increasing 3D print speed can come at the expense of accuracy and surface quality, this is a trade-off worth paying if you need models quickly.

Some steps, such as changing infill density, and switching materials, can also increase print speeds without affecting accuracy and surface finish.

This article provides our top tips to improve 3D print speeds.

Let’s jump in!

  1. Select a higher speed setting in the slicer

The easiest way to increase print speeds – albeit with a leap of faith that all will go well – is increasing print speeds in the slicer’s setting.

Print speeds

Your slicer’s default settings might hold your printer back, especially if you use an imported design file with pre-configured parameters.

Most slicing software makes it easy to bump the print speed up and down. For example, the print speed setting in Cura is under the “Speed” section of the Custom settings.

  1. Switch to a faster material

It is crucial to note that not all materials print at the same speed.

For example, PLA and ABS have nearly identical print speeds, but polycarbonate (PC) is typically twice as slow with a 30 mm/s print speed versus ABS/PLA’s 60 mm/s. This means ABS or PLA is a better option for outright speed.

Additionally, some materials don’t take well to higher print speeds. A good example is PET-G, which likes to print at around 25 mm/s.

If you use a Formlabs 3D printer, Draft Resin is the fastest material, offering three to four times the print speed of standard resins.

  1. Modify infill density

Your infill significantly impacts print speed, with a higher-density infill requiring more material and extrusion time, increasing print speeds.

Ask yourself: is the existing infill 100% necessary, or can you chop some away?

Infill

Infill is the structure of the material inside a 3D-printed part. Just as the underside of a bridge has interconnecting steelwork, 3D-printed parts have an infill that manipulates the part’s physical properties.

A 0% infill is hollow, and 100% is solid. Most designers stick to 5% leaps and try to keep the infill below 50% for fast print speeds.

  1. Modify infill pattern

It isn’t only infill density that can affect print speeds – infill pattern also plays a role by reducing or increasing the print head’s movement. The higher the number of steps the print head takes, the longer the print times.

Infill

Opting for a more straightforward infill pattern can significantly improve print speeds. For example, if you use a honeycomb infill, you can try a grid infill instead.

Here are the main infill patterns:

  • Lines – printed in one direction for strength in two dimensions
  • Honeycombs – provides moderate strength defined by honeycomb density
  • Grids – doubles up the strength and stiffness of lines with weight gain
  • Triangles – strength in two dimensions in the XY plane
  • Cubic – stacked cubes tilted at 45 degrees for strength in three dimensions

Lots of CAD software can recommend infill patterns for your part, including Autodesk tools like Fusion 360 and AutoCAD.

  1. Print thinner walls

Reducing wall thickness can comprise strength and durability, but for non-functional parts, these are mute issues.

3D print walls

The typical value for printing regular, moderately strong parts is a wall thickness of 0.8-1.6 mm (3-4 wall lines). Try pushing lower and experimenting with wall thickness to find a compromise for repeatable and small series parts.

Just one word of caution – too thin a wall can collapse during printing, so ensure the material has sufficient dimensional stability.

  1. Use a larger nozzle

0.4mm is the standard nozzle size for 3D printers because it offers a good balance of speed and detail capability. However, you can also get 0.6mm and 0.8mm nozzles – these let more material through, helping increase print speeds.

Nozzle size

Note that larger nozzles equal thicker layers, so a larger nozzle size is unsuitable if you want to capture lots of detail.

Choosing a larger nozzle for basic shapes and significant components that require no complex surface details will improve print speeds.

  1. Reduce support material

If your model relies on a support material, those supports add time to the print process, so we recommend designing without supports as much as possible.

Support material

For example, using the optimal orientation can significantly reduce support for overhangs. Additionally, playing with temperature and speed settings can help improve stability on the print bed, reducing the requirement for support.

Ask yourself: does your model need a support structure? The answer is yes when overhangs are greater than 45° and sometimes when bridges are wider than 5 mm.

  1. Automate CAD workflows

The 3D printing process does not begin in the printer – it starts in front of a computer with CAD/3D modelling software. 3D designing is the most time-consuming aspect of 3D printing, but essential, repetitive workflows are easy with automation.

For example, Autodesk Fusion 360 with Netfabb can generate internal lattices to use less material and identify and compensate for build errors. It also has a feature called Automated Modelling, which automates exploring and creating new design concepts.

Another helpful tool is the slicer Cura which integrates with the Mesh Tools plugin, giving you automated mesh analysis and manipulation.

Weighing up the throughput to quality trade-off

There is a significant speed-to-accuracy trade-off with 3D printing, where the print quality can suffer the faster you go. This is because mechanical movement makes the print head move between steps with less accuracy.

The trade-off between speed, dimensional accuracy, and mechanical properties is typically worth it for non-functional and hidden components. You must weigh the pros and cons and experiment with settings to strike the right balance.

Lastly, don’t forget to monitor your print process to ensure the tips you deploy from this article translate to a reliable printing experience.

Find out more

For help choosing a filament or to find out more about the 3D printing materials listed in this article, please get in touch with the team at 01765 694 007, email team@additive-x.com, or you can

 

 

 

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