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How long does it take to 3D print something?

Snapmaker - Best 3D Printer, Laser Engraver, CNC Carver for Sale

If you’re new to 3D printing, one of the most commonly asked questions (after what’s the best 3D printer brand?) is how long will it take to print designs? Print time can range anywhere from 30 minutes to multiple days, and there are a lot of variables to consider when determining the length of time your print will take you. While your 3D printer will usually give you an estimate for printing time before it begins, there are ways to gauge how long a job will take before getting to that stage. Here are the main factors to be aware of when estimating the time it will take to print your project.

Printer technology

Some printers are faster than others, but this can mean their prints are of lower quality (especially if the 3D printer being used is a basic model). The best low-cost 3D printers will take a little longer because they lack the technology to print in high resolution quickly. When a basic FDM (fused deposition modeling) printer is programmed to print quickly, often the quality of the model will suffer as a result of the printer’s lower resolution. The resolution of a printer is defined by the smallest possible movement of its printing nozzle. The slighter the movement available, the more material can be printed there- producing finer detail and taking more time to print the same designs than those with a larger minimum movement capability.  If you are using SLA (stereolithography) technology, printing will often be much slower, but with a higher resolution, than those with FDM technology. This is because SLA printing uses lasers to deposit filament; a much slower process than using the extrusion nozzles on FDM printers when it comes to more basic objects. Some FDM printers (like those produced by Snapmaker) have been designed to print quickly without sacrificing quality.

Printing Materials

Whether you’re using FDM or SLA technology, some materials are faster to print with than others. Each material used in 3D printing requires different heating times and extrusion speeds, resulting in varied print speeds.

Printer settings

 Most 3D printers come with adjustable speed settings, and these will of course affect your print time. Most 3D printers that use an additive printing process come with adjustable layer heights and thicknesses. The higher the layer height, the more material is needed per layer and the longer the print will take. Alternatively, the lower the layer thickness, the greater the model detail and the time it will take to print. Printers like this, and those with adjustable print speeds, are designed to be more flexible based on your priorities (speed versus detail).

 Model to be printed

 Both size and complexity of your design will factor greatly into your print time. The larger and more complicated or detailed your design, the more time it will take to print. The footprint (area occupied on the build surface) and height are especially impactful on the speed of your print. If your model is a solid design (not hollow), it will also add a great deal of time to your print as the nozzle has a greater distance to cover.