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Why Do 3D Printers Take So Long

Why Do 3D Printers Take So Long

Updated by

William Stone


January 25, 2023

Printing a piece on a 3D printer can take considerable time. But why do 3D printers take so long? This article has the answers.

Why does 3D printing take so long? Why is the 3D printing process so slow? Is there anything you can do to speed up the 3D printing process?

3D printing entails printing every detail of an item or product in thousands of layers. And placing each layer on top of the other will consume a great deal of time, especially when printing something detailed. This explains why 3D printing takes so long.

If you have printed a detailed piece using a 3D printer, you may have noticed that the process can take a lot of time. And you may have been left wondering why this process takes so long. Well, this guide will answer this question. We will also share some tips on how you can speed up your 3D printing.

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Table of Contents


As much as 3D printing was discovered a couple of decades ago, it has only grown in usage and popularity in recent years. The reason behind this is that it’s a simple technology, which can be used or applied in almost all fields. From education to medicine, prototyping to manufacturing, jewelry making to construction, this technology has found use in almost all sectors of the economy.

However, one thing that has held 3D printing back from becoming a completely practical and revolutionary technology is its speed. Printing a single detailed model using a 3D printer can take up to 24 hours. Some prints may even take some days to finish. And such a downtime can be hugely disadvantageous, especially if you have several products to print.

Why Do 3D Printers Take So Long

Unlike 2D printers, 3D printers usually work by assembling layer by layer of material. And as you may expect, these printers will have certain physical limitations, pertaining to how fast the printer can deposit these layers on the product.

For instance, if you are printing a figure from your favorite TV show, the 3D printer has to heat the printing material you are using to the right temperature. After the material is heated, it then has to be conducted layer by layer, point by point. As you can see, the entire process will consume a great deal of time.

How You Can Increase your 3D Printer’s Speed

Without a doubt, speed remains one of the biggest limitations with 3D printers. And this begs the question, can you increase the speed of 3D printing? Is there a means of making 3D printing faster? Well, you can increase the speed of 3D printing, but only marginally. Here are some methods to explore.

Increase the Print Speed

One of the easiest ways of speeding up 3D printing is by increasing the print speed. The majority of the 3D printers on the market come with a print speed of approximately 40mm/s to around 200mm/s.

To change the print speed, you simply need to change the value on the 3D printing software that you are using. For instance, if the default printing speed on your printer is 50mm/s, you can increase it to 100mm/s or so.

However, you should note that increasing the print speed on your 3D printer can reduce the quality of your print. So, you should only use this method when you are printing products or items that don’t require precision.

Otherwise, if you have a straightforward piece that doesn’t require any precision or its printing is not complicated, then you can increase the print speed. And by doing so, you will reduce the wait time significantly.

Optimize the Travel Speed

A 3D printer’s travel speed determines how fast its head will move when it’s not extruding the print filament. And, increasing the head’s travel speed can save a considerable amount of time.

However, increasing the travel speed too much can also cause other issues such as layer shifting. And when this happens, you will have damaged the entire piece.

So, when you are optimizing your printer’s travel speed, you should raise it slowly and play around with it, until you find a sweet spot where the speed won’t damage the quality of your piece.

Change the Infill Pattern

Whenever you are printing an item using a 3D printer, you will have different infill patterns to choose from. Each infill pattern comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. To this end, you have the option of choosing an infill pattern that will print faster, compared to some of the others. As a result, you will have increased the printing speed and reduced the waiting time.

For most 3D printers, you have the option of choosing between honeycomb infill versus rectilinear infill. As much as the honeycomb infill pattern will produce a strong product, it takes quite a significant amount of time to complete.

Hence, if you are looking to save time, then the rectilinear infill pattern will be the most ideal. It can save you approximately 25% of your overall printing time. However, you will have to sacrifice strength if you opt for the rectilinear infill pattern.

Reduce the Infill Density

Infill density refers to the material inside of your item. If the item has 0% of infill density, then it means it’s hollow on the inside. On the other hand, if it has an infill density of 100%, then it means the inside of the piece will be solid.

As you may expect, a hollow print will take less printing time compared to a solid one. With a hollow piece, the 3D printer will make lesser movements to finish the piece compared to a solid one.

However, this method of increasing the print speed will entirely depend on the item you are printing. If you are printing something functional like a TV wall bracket, then you can’t afford to compromise on the infill density.

But, if you are simply printing a decorative piece like a planter that’s mainly for aesthetics, then you can reduce the infill density as much as you want and save on the overall print.

Increase the Layer Height

The layer height determines the size of each layer on the printer’s Y-axis. It will define each product’s precision, and quality, as well as overall looks. It’s also one of the key determinants of how much time it will take to finalize a print.

If a product has thin layering, then the height on the Y-axis will be smaller. Consequently, such a piece will take longer to finish printing due to the higher number of layers involved. On the other hand, if a print has thick layering, then the height on the Y-axis will be bigger. Consequently, such a piece will take a shorter time to finish since you will be printing fewer layers.

So, if you are printing something whose finish is of little importance, you can choose a higher layer height. By doing so, you will reduce the number of layers involved and the piece will take less time to print.

Wrapping It Up

3D printing is a complex process that entails printing layer by layer. Therefore, the whole process can take hours or even days if you are printing detailed pieces. Fortunately, there are certain changes you can implement to increase your printing speed and reduce printing time.


William Stone

William Stone

William has spent 20 plus years in the custom manufacturing industry as a COO, CEO and Owner of various custom product businesses. His experience has exposed him to all types of manufacturing from die cast, die struck, injection molding, CNC machining, laser etching, engraving and of course 3D printing.

Learn more about William Stone

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Why Do 3D Printers Take So Long

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