A 3D printer can print at various speeds, subject to the associated parameters and settings. However, these speeds aren’t similar for all 3D printers, and factors such as your printing material can alter your speed. Considering all these variables, you’re probably wondering how fast a 3D printer prints?
A 3D printer can print PLA as fast as 200 mm/s (7.87 inches/s), although printing at such speeds would result in a low-quality print. How fast a resin 3D printer can print depends on its type and your model or design, orientation, and layer thickness.
The print speed of an FDM 3D printer isn’t the same metric as the printing time of an SLA, DLP, or LCD model. Also, how fast a 3D printer prints is not an isolated setting because many factors directly impact the speed. So, let’s explore these factors together and get a better idea of how quickly your prints will work up.
How Fast a 3D Printer Can Print
Let me begin with a few facts before delving into the specific and maximum print speeds of 3D printers.
A 3D FDM printer’s print speed is the quantity of filament it can deposit per second. However, this print speed isn’t the sole determiner of the printing time or duration for a 3D model.
Also, the max print speed varies for different filaments and related parameters. A 3D SLA, DLP, or LCD printer’s print speed depends on the resin, design, settings, etc.
SLA, DLP, or LCD 3D printers’ speed only represents the print time or duration, not the amount of resin you use. Unlike FDM or FFF, you measure a resin 3D printer’s print speed along the Z axis.
With these facts in mind, let’s explore how fast a 3D printer can print.
Print Speeds of Filament 3D Printers: FDM or FFF
FFF/FDM 3D printers use thermoplastic filaments. You can measure the print speeds of these 3D printers in millimeters per second (inches/second). In other words, the measurement is how many millimeters or inches of filament the 3D printer can deposit per second.
Here are a few average speeds of most FDM/FFF 3D printers:
- Slow: 30 to 50 mm/s (1.2 to ~2 inches/s)
- Fast: 60 to 90 mm/s (2.4 to 3.5 inches/s)
- Faster: 100 mm/s (4 inches/s) and upward
- Fastest: ~200 mm/s (7.87 inches/s)
I must mention a caveat here. The slow print speeds above are usually the best choice for most prints. As you may be aware, the 30 to 50 mm/s (1.2 to ~2 inches/s) speed range is usually optimum and often ideal for most models.
Fastest 3D Printer Print Speeds for Different Filaments
Many factors influence how fast a 3D printer can print, including the following:
- 3D printer model
- Type of filament
- Filament diameter
- Layer height
- Flow rate (extrusion multiplier)
- Hotend type and temperature
- Nozzle diameter (extrusion width)
These factors determine the maximum volumetric speed (MVS) of a filament. This MVS value is different for various printers and thermoplastic filaments. The maximum speed you can get with a 3D printer and filament depends on the MVS value and other variable parameters. Let me explain.
An FFF or FDM 3D printer cannot extrude more filament per second than what its components are capable of heating, melting, and depositing. This quantity of material that a 3D printer can deposit per second. Thus, this value is the fastest print rate.
Here’s how to calculate the maximum volumetric speed (MVS):
- Maximum volumetric speed = print speed x layer height x extrusion width.
The MVS is a maximum constant for a particular 3D printer and type of filament. Hence, you can only alter the following:
- Print speed: Subject to the hotend, temperature, and model or design.
- Layer height: Based on the part of the model you are currently printing.
- Extrusion width: This will depend on the nozzle diameter and flow rate.
Since MVS is a constant and the maximum value, these three parameters cannot collectively exceed it as per the equation. If you hit the MVS value, you must reduce one of the three parameters to increase another.
Furthermore, as MVS varies for different filaments, the maximum attainable print speed is not the same for every thermoplastic for the same 3D printer.
Here’s how fast an Original Prusa i3 MK3/S with an E3D V6 hotend can print different filaments:
I have used the standard layer height for these calculations. You can reduce the extrusion width from 0.4 mm to 0.3 mm (0.015 inches to 0.011 inches) if you want, which should theoretically increase the print speeds mentioned in the table.
However, the stated print speeds are the maximum in ideal scenarios. So, you may consider the figures a theoretical calculation. In practice, the fastest print speed for each filament will likely be slower.
Check this video with ender reaching 200 mm/s
Factors That Can Reduce the Maximum Volumetric Speed
Here are a few pertinent factors that will reduce the effective print speed:
- Greater viscosity and stiffness of filaments, irrespective of the type.
- Lower hotend temperature and ambient factors that cool the filament.
- A jammed nozzle, improper idler tension, bad quality filament, etc.
Factors That Can Increase the Maximum Volumetric Speed
Here are a few factors that can increase the effective print speed:
- Higher flow rate or extrusion multiplier and hotend temperature.
- Larger nozzle diameter, such as 0.6 or 0.8 mm (0.02 or 0.03 inches).
- A hotend that delivers a greater flow rate or maximum volumetric speed.
The Hotend’s Role in Determining How Fast a 3D Printer Can Print
The above example of Original Prusa i3 MK3/S is for an E3D V6 hotend. The MVS values in the table are the E3D V6 hotend’s maximum volumetric speeds for each cited filament. Now, let me use the example of an E3D Volcano hotend.
- The E3D Volcano hotend’s maximum volumetric speed for PLA is ~25 mm3/s. This value is almost 10 mm3/s greater than the E3D V6 hotend’s MVS for PLA.
- Consider the same standard layer height of 0.2 mm (0.007 inches) and nozzle diameter or extrusion width of 0.4 mm (0.015 inches) that I have used in the earlier calculations.
- Therefore, the E3D Volcano hotend can facilitate a maximum print speed of 312 mm/s (12.28 inches/s) for PLA.
- A larger nozzle diameter and extrusion width can further increase E3D Volcano hotend’s maximum volumetric speed for PLA, provided you also raise the printing temperature.
However, you need a 3D printer compatible with the E3D Volcano hotend. The Original Prusa i3 MK3/S requires modding, including the firmware, to work with the E3D Volcano, whereas the V6 is compatible straightaway.
Some hotends have higher maximum volumetric speeds than the E3D V6 hotend, but your 3D printer must be compatible. Also, the slicer software or your manual interventions must make the necessary code changes to account for lightning-fast print speeds.
Print Speeds of Resin 3D Printers: SLA, DLP, and LCD
Resin printers, such as SLA, DLP, or LCD, use different technologies, so their print speeds or total duration have other influencing factors. There’s no extrusion, hotend, or filament deposit.
If you have a small and simple design, a resin 3D printer may print as fast as 76 mm or 3 inches per hour along the Z axis. A large and complex design with a minuscule layer thickness prints at a significantly slower pace, which could be much less than 25.4 mm or 1 inch per hour.
Generally, SLA 3D printers are not as fast as DLP or LCD models, but the differences in total print times become stark when you work on larger models with plenty of distinct parts or design elements. If you print small models, an SLA may be comparable with an LCD or DLP.
Technological differences aside, the print speeds of resin 3D printers depend on your design or model. So, the settings, printing parameters, and resin type have the maximum impact. Also, the brand and quality of a 3D resin printer will influence the print speed.
Factors Influencing 3D Printer Print Speeds for Resin
Here are the main factors that determine a resin 3D printer’s print speed:
- 3D printer
- 3D design
- Resin type
- Exposure time
- Layer thickness
- Number of layers
- Lift/retraction time
- Lift/retraction distance
Suppose you have a Formlabs or Anycubic 3D printer. The two brands don’t have identical print speeds. You may consider either or both as your constant to have a baseline so that you can compare the influences of the pertinent factors, such as the following 3D design elements:
- Layer thickness: 50 microns (0.05 mm) takes twice the time to print than 100 microns (0.1 mm).
- Number of layers: 2,000 layers take twice the time to print as 1,000 layers.
- Model orientation: A design prints faster at 45° than a vertical or 90° orientation.
- Infill or hollowness: Models with hollow parts print faster than designs with infill.
The exposure time, lift, or retraction depends on the 3D printer and resin type. You can’t change the necessary settings much, but you can reduce the distances and speed up the movements.
Still, you can’t reduce the distances or hasten the motions beyond the recommended limits.
Therefore, the print durations are unlikely to differ significantly for a given design on the same printer with a specific resin.
You can only speed up the process by increasing the layer thickness, changing the orientation, and reducing the infill.
The number of layers decreases as you increase their thickness. Also, you can reduce the number of base layers at the build plate if possible.
Fastest 3D Printer Print Speeds for Different Resins
The brand and model of an SLA or DLP 3D printer and the type of resin you use significantly impact the print speed for any design. Consider these two popular resins of Formlabs:
- Gray Resin
- Draft Resin
Suppose you use the same 3D printer, design, and settings. In that case, Draft Resin prints up to 4 times faster than Gray Resin.
So, for example, let’s say you have a 3D model to make. If you use Gray Resin, it could take 1 hour to print. However, if you used Draft Resin for the same print, it would only take 15 minutes for the job to finish.
If there’s a possibility of increasing the layer thickness, you can increase the print speed with Draft Resin. For instance, let’s say you plan to print a model with Draft Resin, and it takes 1 hour to print when each layer is at 100 microns. Using Draft Resin for the same model at 200 microns can reduce the print time to ~30 minutes.
Likewise, a rigid resin has a faster print speed than flexible variants, primarily due to the shorter exposure and interim curing times. This difference is regardless of the 3D printer brand, model, and type, i.e., SLA, DLP, and LCD.
However, the same resin made by different companies doesn’t have an identical quality. The characteristics could be different, like the grade or quality of the same filament type manufactured by various brands. These varying attributes affect the real-world print speed.
Similarly, the condition of a resin or filament affects the print speed of a 3D printer. These effects are also irrespective of the 3D printer brand or model and your design, print settings, etc.
I hope the facts in this guide will help you optimize and maximize the print speed on your 3D printer. However, always pay heed to the impact of speed on 3D print quality. In most cases, faster is not always better.
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I started 3D printing since 2013 and have learned a lot since then. Because of this I want to share my knowledge of what I have learned in the past years with the community. Currently I own 2 Bambulab X1 Carbon, Prusa SL1S and a Prusa MK3S+. Hope you learn something from my blog after my years of experience in 3D printing.