How To Speed Up Your 3D Printer. Lightning fast printing.

When I first got my 3D printer I was shocked at how long it actually takes to 3D print something, but over time I have realized how slow can still be fast. There are a few pretty east tips and tricks to speed up 3D printing that might almost seem like no brainers if you have been 3D printing for any period of time.

When increasing your 3D print speed the most important things to consider are nozzle diameter, layer height, infill density, wall thickness, movement speed, and infill pattern. Changing any of your 3D printer settings to the extreme can dramatically affect 3D printing quality.

I am going to walk through the best time saving techniques and then combine them all to see how fast we can create a 3D benchy (not considering quality).

Increase Nozzle Diameter.

Increasing your 3D printer’s nozzle diameter will enable your 3D printer to pass more filament through the hot end. By passing more filament through the hot end you can build your layers taller which will then decrease the amount of time that it takes to reach your 3D prints full height.

There are many available nozzle diameters on the market but the most commonly used nozzle diameter is 0.4mm and the largest nozzle that is readily available is 1.00mm.

Check out this great nozzle kit that will allow you to experiment with different nozzle diameters and it also comes with all the tools you need for replacing and unclogging your nozzle. (It is also the amazon reccomended for 3D printer nozzles).

3D Printer Nozzles, 30PCS Hardened Steel and Brass MK8

Here is an example of a 3D Benchy using a 0.4mm nozzle at the standard quality layer height of .2mm contrasted with a 1.00mm nozzle at its standard layer height of .5mm.

There is a pretty huge difference in quality of print on a finer detail print like benchy but the more impressive chance is the time going from 1 hour 56 minutes all the way down to 33 minutes just by changing the nozzle. Pretty amazing. A 1.00mm nozzle is considered a draft quality, basically meaning if you are needing a quick proof of design a 1.00mm nozzle is great, but for a finished product it is better to use a smaller finer detail nozzle.

Increase Layer Height.

In general you can build your layer heights to a maximum of 70% of the nozzle diameter before your layers are too tall and are not making proper contact with the previous layer. 

Nozzle DiameterStandard Layer HeightMax Layer Height

Here is an example of a 3D benchy using a .4mm diameter with the standard .2mm layer height contrasted with a benchy using the same .4mm nozzle at the maximum layer height of .28mm

This is a pretty good balance of speed and quality. You are saving 25% of your printing time and only sacrificing minimum print quality. There are still enough layers that the print doesn’t look too choppy and you still get the time savings.

Another thing to consider is that as your layer height increased it will create a ribbed outer surface and the smaller your layers are your outer layer will feel more smooth.

Decrease Infill Density.

Decreasing the infill density on your 3D print can save you some time when 3D printing but it is also one of the most risky things to decrease and can lead to critical failure if not done carefully.

Removing the infill doesn’t just decrease the strength of the part; it also can be used to support your part from the inside and removing all the infill will then leave nothing for your layers to adhere to.

In this example I am using the “Cubic” infill in Cura. Decreasing the infill from 20 percent to 10 percent reduced the print time from 1 hour 56 minutes to 1 hour 48 minutes for an 8 minute time savings. 

Decrease Wall Thickness.

Decreasing the wall thickness is a similar time saving as increasing the layer height in the sense that you are saving time by creating less layers. Although in decreasing the wall thickness you are also potentially compromising structural strength.

For a grand total of 10 minutes saved, decreasing the wall thickness is the one time saving strategy that I buy and largely avoid. In most cases the second wall is necessary and removing it causes a weak 3D print that will not be durable enough for its task.

Increase Movement Speed.

Increasing the movement speed of your 3D printer can save a decent amount of time when 3D printing. On cheaper machines if you are going too fast your bed might have a hard time staying level due to the increased vibration and movement caused by the machine accelerating and “jerking” on hard turns.

We saved 15 minutes by increasing the machine speed from 50 mm/s to 75 mm/s. 75 mm/s is a speed for PLA and should not be used for other filaments, especially flexible filaments like TPU.

FIlament TypeStandard SpeedMax Speed
PLA50 mm/s80 mm/s
PETG40 mm/s60 mm/s
ABS40 mm/s60 mm/s
TPU30 mm/s50 mm/s

If your 3D printer is struggling at the max speed try slowing it down in increments of 5 mm/s until you achieve the quality to speed ratio that you want.

Infill Pattern.

Different infill patterns can sometimes significantly decrease your print time. For this example I am going to use a 1in block using the standard Cura “Cubic” infill pattern.

  • Cubic – 46 Minutes
  • Lightning – 38 Minutes
  • Concentric – 43 Minutes
  • Cubic Subdivision – 44 Minutes
  • Tri-Hexagon – 45 Minutes
  • Triangles – 46 Minutes
  • Grid – 47 Minutes
  • Octet – 47 Minutes
  • Zig Zag – 47 Minutes
  • Quarter Cubic – 47 Minutes
  • Lines – 48 Minutes
  • Cross 3D – 51 Minutes
  • Gyroid – 51 Minutes
  • Cross – 52 Minutes

Lightning is deceivingly fast and if you look at the layers, the infill is not dense at all and this will dramatically affect stability.

Here are all of the time saving strategies all crammed into one 3D Benchy. Obviously this is kind of silly and I would never actually 3D print a Benchy with these settings because the quality would be hilarious.

There you have it. A 17 minute 3D Benchy!

Remove Slicer Bed Adhesion.

This one is a bit self explanatory and really most of the time people do not use bed adhesion techniques such as raft, skirt or brim. Removing these techniques from your slicer settings and sticking with something like masking tape or stick glue to achieve bed adhesion will save you a lot of time when 3D printing.

Why Does 3D Printing Take So Long? Is slow speed necessary?

As a whole 3D printing takes a long time to create a single part because the 3D printer has to methodically lay filament in a specific pattern one layer at a time. The slow speed can be reduced by printing less layers or by increasing your nozzle diameter.

The slow speed of a 3D printer is hard to avoid but if you are really needing to decrease your print speed check the techniques I outline at the top of the article. Most speed increasing 3D printing techniques will effect the quality of the print in some way.

Can You 3D Print Too Slow? Will it hurt print quality?

3D Printing at too slow of a speed can cause deformation as well as a diminishing return on print speed and quality. In general you will not be able to see a large difference in printing 20mm/s vs printing 50mm/s and it will take twice as long to print at 20mm/s.

It is not very likely to dramatically affect print quality by running your 3D printer at very low speeds but it is possible.

What Filament Can You 3D Print The Fastest?

On average, PLA is the most forgiving filament when it comes to the speed of a 3D printer. PLA has a recommended speed of 50mm/s and can be printed as fast as 80-85 mm/s. TPU is the slowest filament when it comes to speed with an average recommended speed of 30mm/s maxing out at 50mm/s.

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