How Long Does 3D Printing Take

Krystal DeVille

How Long Does 3D Printing Take

Having to wait for a 3D part can be agonizing. We know how fantastic the object will be once it’s made.

But first, we need to wait for the printing process to finish. It’s enough to make anyone impatient.

Multiple elements will affect how long a 3D printer will take. Sometimes, you might be able to get the part within 30 minutes. At other times, you’ll need to wait for up to 12 hours to complete the piece.

To give you a more accurate understanding of how long your 3D printer will take, let’s look at some of the elements that will affect print time.  

Size of the Part

3d printer miniatures
3D Printer Miniatures.

One of the most important elements you need to consider is how large the part will be. It stands to reason that the bigger the object is, the longer it will take to print.

More specifically, you will need to look at the amount of volume (filament) you are going to be using. This will determine the amount of plastic it will take to print.

The shape of the object is also vital. It will be easier to print if you have something relatively flat with square edges. It will be more challenging to create when there are curves or other complex geometrical shapes.

With this in mind, there is a simple way to get bigger objects to print faster. You can change the fill. This affects what the inside of the object will look like.

For example, you might want to use a hexagonal shape. This helps ensure that you will have a strong object. Plus, you will use less filament, saving you money. This article goes into more depth on this topic and how you can apply it to your 3D printing projects.

Type of Material

The next thing to consider is the type of printing material you are using. Some will print faster than others.

For example, they will need to get a higher extruder temperature to turn into plastic. Sometimes, they will take a little longer to get set on the printer bed. This is why most people prefer to work with PLA. It tends to be the easiest filaments to print.

Polylactic Acid, commonly known as PLA, is one of the most popular materials used in 3D printing.

Number of Copies

It can be an intricate process when you are printing an item for the first time. First, you will need to create the design. Then, you will need to run it through a slicing program so the printer knows what to do on each layer.

A slicing program is a software that translates the 3D drawing into a language that a 3D printer can understand and print. You can find a free and open-source slicing program called Slic3r here.

In some cases, designing a 3D print from scratch can take a few hours. For a complex part, it might take a few days. This video gives you a better look at what the process involves.

However, once the pre-production process is finished, making multiple copies will be relatively easy. With each new print, you will learn what worked and what didn’t. This will allow you to keep making gradual improvements.

Print Quality

It’s a good idea to think about the print quality you want. Some people prefer to get a low-quality print, trading resolution for speed. This can give you a better idea of how the object will look in the real world.

When you are ready to start printing, you can switch to a higher resolution option. This means that the print layers will be placed closer together.

Because there will be more layers, it will take longer to create. The number of microns used will determine the quality of the print. You should be able to adjust these settings in your printer.

Type of Printer You Are Using

rainbow made with a 3d printer
Rainbow Made With a 3D Printer.

Often, one of the most critical elements to consider is the type of printer you are using. For example, an LCD printer might take four hours to print a part that will take an FDM printer six hours to complete.

There are many different types of printers available, making it harder for people to find which one will be the right choice for them. There are many elements that you will need to consider.

For example, size and weight both play an essential role. It’s also important to consider the number of microns. This will determine the type of resolution the printer will be able to produce.

The most important consideration should be the type of items you expect to print. Sometimes, you might need to get a more specialized printer. An excellent example of this is a printer that has been designed to deal with miniature figures.

You’ll need something capable of handling the technically challenging parts of these projects, like creating the intricate details. If this is an area that you are interested in and you want to know what you should be looking for, read through this list of 3d printers for miniatures.

Post-Production Process

Finally, just because the print is finished doesn’t mean that the part is complete. You will need to do some post-production. This can be as simple as sanding it down to remove any burrs. At other times, you will need to add a coat of paint.

Depending on the item you are working on, this can take a long time. For example, if you are making miniatures, you will need to pay a lot of attention to detail, especially when painting the object.

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Easy No STEM Activities for Kids

General Print Time Estimates

Now that we know some things that can affect print speed, let’s look at some common examples of print times:

· Small items. These are things like Lego bricks or other small, non-complex items. You should be able to print them within 30 minutes to an hour.

· Medium-sized objects. An example of this would be a mug. These will usually take between two to four hours to print.

· Big/ complex items. Sometimes, you will do something that takes up the whole base plate or a project that requires multiple smaller items that need to be combined. These are the most complex projects and can often print between 10 to 50 hours.

Wrapping Up

3D printing has helped to revolutionize the world. If you can design something, you can use a 3D printer to bring it to life. While the process won’t be instant, technological improvements will boost printing speed. Just remember that good things come to those who wait. 

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