How Long Does 3D Printing Take? (2022)


3d printing machine printing something

Are you wondering how long does 3d printing take? The print quality and size have a huge impact on the speed of printing, and it can take several hours to produce a finished 3d printed product.

3D printing at home provides us with the ability to manufacture different objects at a very little cost. However, the time it takes to process a digital 3D model into an actual object isn’t too quick.

In fact, tests show that the speed of a printer has less impact on the time it takes to print an object than the quality settings and size.

If you are thinking about getting a 3D printer and are wondering how much time it will take for you to print different objects using the machine, you are the right place.

Below, we have explained in detail how long does 3D printing take and the factors that affect the speed of 3D printing. 

Materials Used in 3D Printing 

3D printing technology is being used in a number of industries, which has increased the demand for printing materials that suit different applications.

Materials like PolyJet photopolymer and FDM thermoplastic are expanding their lines with novel options that include sterilizable and biocompatible options to materials with chemical resistant and anti-static properties that are well-suited for manufacturing and prototypes.

3D printing materials that are currently available include ABS, ULTEM, polycarbonate, ASA, TPU, VeroClear, Agilus30, Nylon, and PC-ABS. 

Speed Settings of a 3D Printer 

Currently, 3D printers can print at three different sets of speeds.

The first set is around 40 to 50mm/s, the second set prints at a speed of about 80 to 100mm/s while the fastest set prints at the speed of 150mm/s.

Some printers can even achieve a speed greater than 150mm/s.

Typically, if you increase the speed, you won’t get great print quality.

Above, 150mm/s, you will notice a significant drop in quality and may experience problems because the filament slips at such a high speed. 

How to Set the Speed of Printing 

The speed of 3D printing can be set in the slicing software that is used for preparing the 3D model.

For example, in Cura (v15.04), you only have to insert the printing speed in the field titled ‘Print speed’ that you will find on the Basic tab.

As soon as the print speed is changed, the print duration is recalculated by Cura and displayed on the screen.

The duration calculated by Cura is identical to the actual time it takes to complete the printed object.

How Timing is Affected by Size 

Size is one of the major factors that affect the speed of printing.

It’s a no brainer – the bigger the object is, the longer it is going to take to print it.

Taller objects generally take more time to print than their flatter counterparts, even when their volume is the same.

The reason is that the extruder has to create more layers. Size isn’t the only thing that matters when we are referring to the object’s volume.

Specific layers will become complex when cross-sectional layers or gaps have to be created. This factor can have a huge impact on the time it takes to print an object. 

Speed of Different Types of 3D Printing 

There are two common types of 3D printing – Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Stereolithography Apparatus (SLA).

In FDM, a temperature-controlled head is used to extrude thermoplastic materials onto a platform.  In SLA, photochemical processes are used to link materials together.

The time it takes to 3D print one part of an object mainly depends on the 3D printer’s configuration.

These configurations are generally divided into two categories – paintbrush and paint roller. 

  • Paint Roller 

The print head moves forward and backward on the build try while printing materials are extruded from different points on the print head. 3D printers that use paint roller technology include Colorjet, Polyjet, and Multijet printers.

  • Paintbrush 

In this configuration, the paintbrush extrudes materials from a single pint as it moves from one section of the tray to the other, creating layers. Paintbrush is used in FDM, selective sintering, and stereolithography. Paintbrush printers are a little slower and less detailed than paint roller printers. 

Speed of Different Types of 3D Printers 

3D printers have different systems to change the position of the print head during printing, and these have an effect on the speed of the printer.

Cartesian and Delta are two of the most popular types of 3D printers, and out of these two, Delta is said to be faster because of the fluidity of movement.

In Cartesian printers, X, Y, and Z-axis are used for plotting points where the extruder is supposed to go.

On the other hand, Delta printers use a different system to navigate the extruder. An object that takes 4 hours to be printed by a Cartesian printer can be printed in 3.5 hours on a Delta printer.

However, it is worth noting that Cartesian printers give better print quality because of their detail and precision.

Layer Height 

The height of each individual layer determines the print quality, and it is generally between 0.1mm to 0.5mm.

You can adjust this in your software settings. If you print thinner layers, you will achieve better quality, and the print produced will be smoother; however, it’ll take more time to create the finished product.

Instead of printing a completely solid object, you can consider honeycombing, which means that you can have empty spaces between the printed object.

This will not only speed up the printing process but also save filament material. FDM printers are capable of printing objects with layers heights of 0.013 inches, 0.010 inches, 0.007 inches, or 0.005 inches.

By using various layer heights during the printing process, you can prioritize details and speed depending on your requirements.

Shorter layers generally mean more details, smoother surface finishes, and smaller features. In addition, they indicate that there may be more layers, which is why the printing process may take more time.

For example, FDMA parts with 0.005 inches would take more time to print than those which have 0.013 inches layers. 

Post Processing 

Post processing activities include those that are performed after the 3D printing process.

The process can include the removal of support, cleaning, rinsing, and then drying printed parts.

However, the method of post processing is unique to every technology. Moreover, the average time can vary depending on several factors, including the size and geometry of the parts.

For a smaller object, post processing may be done within 20 minutes, while for a larger object, it may take several hours.

Most importantly, it would help if you took care not to cause damage or break any of the printed parts because they usually come out fragile depending on the designs and materials used. 

How Speed is Affected by Infill Settings 

Changing the infill settings can increase the speed of printing.

Printing something with zero infills would take very little time.

Higher infill densities like a cube or sphere generally take a lot of time. It is worth noting that SLA printing can print objects with high densities a lot faster compared to FDM printing.

This is because SLA printing is done in layers. The speed of SLA printing mostly depends on the object’s height.

It is important to note that 3D printing isn’t easy and takes a lot of setting up, and you will get better with experience.

So, depending on how the 3D prints are set up, whether you download designs of other people or design something on your own, this could take up a significant amount of time.

Speed and Nozzle Size 

If you want to increase the printing speed, get a bigger nozzle that will cover a large space in less time.

The height and diameter of the nozzle have a major impact on the speed of printing, so it is worth upgrading your existing nozzle to a bigger one if you want to print at faster speeds. 

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, the time it takes to 3D print an object depends on a number of factors, including the size of the object, 3D printing technology used, the configuration of the printer, nozzle size, infill settings, layer height, type of printer, and post processing.

It is worth noting that you can change the speed settings on your printer to print at a higher speed; however, this would compromise the quality of the print.

Therefore, if you want to achieve high-quality print, you should consider printing at a slower speed.

We hope you find the information provided above helpful. In case you have any questions or queries, feel free to reach out to us. 

Steven Carroll

Thank you for reading my article. I have a passion for creating with 3D printing, woodworking, welding, and drawing. I hope you have learned a little from my mistakes and lessons learned. This article is meant to be a help to you! Thank you again for your time!

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