3D printing has become more common over the past few years. There are now many 3D printers available for the average person to have at home or in their workshop. However, this technology is still young and relatively unknown by many, which means that those who are considering purchasing their first 3D printer may find themselves asking the question, “how long does 3D printing take?”
3D printing can take minutes, hours, or days depending on various factors. The type of printer, the material used for the print, the dimensions of the model, how many pieces must be printed, in-filling, drying time, and post-processing are all factors that determine how long a 3D print will take.
3D printing can take mear minutes, or it can take many days. How long a print takes depends on many factors. It is essential to plan your 3D print well and use the best materials to print with and use the right settings on your 3D printer to print as fast as possible while still maintaining the quality you expect. Let’s look closer at how long 3D printing takes, what makes 3D printing takes as long as it does, and some ways to help make 3D printing a quicker process.
How Long Does 3D Printing Take?
The process of 3D printing can be frustrating, especially when you first realize how long it can take to 3D print an object, but that, unfortunately, is the nature of 3D printing.
Many factors determine how long a 3D print will take to complete.
Everything from the dimensions of the print, the footprint of the print, internal stricture of the object, the material that is used for printing, the type of 3D printer that is being used, the number and thickness of the layers that are used for the 3D print, how long the printing material takes to dry, and how much work is necessary to clean up the object after it has been printed.
The biggest factor in how long the 3D print will take to complete is the size and complexity of the object that is being printed.
Small, simple, hollow objects can take a few short minutes to print and just a few more minutes to post-process. Depending on the printer, objects such as small hollow cubes can take as little as five minutes to print.
Large, complex, high-quality objects with internal support structures can take many hours or even days to complete and may take many post-processing hours.
The machine that is used is a large factor as well. Standard FDM printers take longer to complete certain prints than SLA or resin printers do.
The type of machine also affects the post-process time, as objects made in an FDM printer usually require less post-processing than an object created in SLA printers, depending on the object and the quality that the printer is set to print at.
Overall, 3D printing is a time-consuming process, so it is important to set realistic expectations for your 3D printing endeavors and realize that it may take a long time to craft certain objects, but it is undoubtedly worth the wait.
What Factors Affect The Time A 3D Print Takes?
Many different factors affect the time required to complete a 3D print, and it generally depends on the machine that is being used and the size and complexity of the object that is being generated.
Some of the main factors that affect the print time of a 3D object are:
- The type and quality of the 3D printer that is used
- The type of filament or resin that is used for the print
- The dimensions of the object being printed (height, length, depth, width)
- The internal design of the object that is being generated
- The quality of the object (number of layers and layer size)
- How well the print is planned and the path that the printer will use to print
- The speed that the printer is set to print at
The type of 3D printer that is used is a major factor in print time. If the machine you are using is small and cheap, it will take longer to print objects than a better quality machine.
The way the 3D printer works is also a factor. Generally, FDM printers take longer than SLA printers do, but there are pros and cons to both printer types.
The filament or resin that is used must be considered as well. If the filament is very thick, it will take longer to dry, increasing the completion time of the print.
If the resin that is used is for the print is less affected by the UV light that is used to dry the resin, it will take longer to complete the print.
Small objects take much less time to print than larger objects, and shorter objects take less time than taller objects because of the number of verticle layers that the printer requires.
The internal structure and infill of the object that is being made is a massive factor in how long it will take to print. Hollow objects take far less time, and objects that are well supported or have a lot of infills will take a very long time to print.
The quality that is used for the print is a determining factor as well. For a 3D printed object to of high-quality, the printer must use many thin layers to build up the object, and this increases the time it takes to complete.
If the object is made from fewer, larger layers, the quality will be decreased, but so will the time it takes to print.
The printing plan used and how effectively the printer is programmed to move will affect the print time. If the print is programmed inefficiently, the print will take longer.
Most 3D printers have print speed settings. Increasing the print speed will decrease the quality of the printed object, but it will take less time to complete.
Does 3D Printing Always Take A Long Time?
3D printing is a time-consuming endeavor, but there are 3D printed objects that do not take very to print at all.
If the object that is being printed is small, with little infill and few internal structures, is well planned out, and the printer that you are using is relatively quick, the object can be printed in a matter of a few minutes.
Even medium-sized objects can be generated in less than an hour if the print is planned out well.
It does take time to perform 3D prints, but well-designed objects may take less time than you expect.
Can 3D Printing Be Made Faster?
There are a few simple ways to improve 3D printing time, but the only real way to significantly reduce the time it requires to produce a 3D-printed object is to use very high-quality equipment, software, and printing material.
Simple methods to improve print time include:
- Reducing infill
- Reducing wall thickness
- Reducing internal structure
- Using a larger filament nozzle
- Increasing layer height
- Printing tall object in two short segments on the same print and gluing them together after printing
- Increase default speed on the printer
More complicated ways to increase printing speed include upgrading the machine that you are using and its components, purchasing a better quality machine, using better 3D modeling software with better print path options, using better quality or faster drying resins and filaments, and or buying a second 3D printer to print more objects at once.
3D printing can take a few minutes, or it can take many hours, depending on the object that is being printed, the machine that is doing the printing, the material that is used, and the way the printing path is executed.
Unfortunately, 3D printing almost always takes a long time, especially if you print high-quality 3D objects.
However, the time that it takes to 3D print an object is well worth the wait. Higher-quality prints take more time, but the end result is far better than the alternatives.
Simple 3D prints can take minutes, and complex 3D prints may take days.
The operator of the 3D printer has control of how long a 3D print will take, as the parameters of the print can be adjusted to increase the quality of the print but increase the time taken, or to decrease the time taken by reducing the quality of the print.
3D printing is slow and complex, but the versatility of these machines far outweighs the time it takes to generate an object. Whether your print takes minutes or days, the object that is produced will be well worth the wait!