How to Speed Up 3D Printing for Faster Prints: 9 Easy Tips

Mario De Lio

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Two 3D benchy’s printed in green pla on the build surface of a Anycubic Kobra 2 3D printer the model on the left was printed in 43 minutes while the model on the right 3d printed faster in 30 minutes

One of the most common challenges faced by 3D printing enthusiasts is the time it takes to complete a print. With some projects taking hours or even days to finish, everyone is looking for ways to increase the speed of 3D printing without compromising on quality.

There are several ways to speed up 3D printing without reducing print quality. Let’s look at some easy tips to 3D print faster, such as adjusting slicer settings, modifying infill patterns, and experimenting with nozzle sizes to help you create a 3D image more quickly.

How to Speed Up 3D Printing

1. Increase Print Speed in Your Slicer

Increasing the print speed is one of the easiest ways to get faster print times. Print speed, typically measured in millimeters per second, dictates how fast the print head moves during extrusion.

It’s best to increase this speed gradually and run a test print to evaluate the impact on print quality. Faster print speeds often reduce the quality of your 3D model as faster speeds create more vibrations and don’t provide as much time for the filament to bond.

Remember that every printer has its limits. You can’t increase print speed indefinitely.

Different filaments also react differently to speed changes, so consider the material you use. For instance, increasing speed can sometimes lead to poor layer adhesion, reduced surface quality, and less accuracy in the print. To strike the right balance, you might want to experiment with varying speeds for different parts of your print, like opting for slower speeds for the outer walls and faster for the infill.

You can also adjust the acceleration and jerk settings, which control the speed at which the print head changes directions.

Editor’s Tip

Tip: Raise the print temperature when you increase print speed to prevent under-extrusion issues. Higher print temperatures allow the filament to melt and extrude faster. I recommended a 5-15 °C temperature increase for every 5-10mm/s increase in print speed.

2. Increase Travel Speed

An often overlooked speed setting is the travel speed. The travel speed is how fast the print head moves when not extruding material. Think about gaps in your print or when you’re printing multiple items.

Increasing the travel speed reduces overall print times.

You’ll notice the most significant time savings when printing objects where the print head spends much time over open spaces. If you’re printing a solid object, such as a vase, this setting won’t impact print times.

The default setting in Cura is 150mm/s, but you can increase it with a 3D printer capable of faster speeds. 

Faster travel speeds also reduce stringing in your 3D prints, as there’s less time for the filament to ooze out of the nozzle during movements.

The biggest drawback is that faster travel speeds increase the chance of the hot end crashing into parts of your print.

Editor’s Tip

Enable Z hop, which raises the nozzle during travel, preventing collisions with printed objects. You can also enable Combing, which adjusts the travel path to avoid collisions. We prefer Z hop over combing as the modified path is longer, increasing print times. In comparison, Z hop does not affect the print speed.

3. Increase Layer Height

To 3D printed 3D Benchy models side by side on an Ender 3 V2 build plate. The left print has smaller layer lines than the object on the right

Increasing the layer height is the best way to reduce print times. However, increasing the layer height reduces the print quality of your 3D model.

Layer height is often referred to as the print resolution.

Increasing layer height is particularly effective for larger, less detailed objects. However, it’s essential to be aware of the trade-off involved: a thicker layer height can reduce the level of detail and smoothness of the print’s surface, making layer lines more visible.

You can increase the layer height to 80% of the nozzle diameter.

You can print with a standard 0.4mm nozzle with a maximum 0.32mm layer height. With a wider nozzle diameter of 0.6mm, you can print at a much larger layer height of 0.48 mm.

4. Use a Wider Nozzle

A small diameter nozzle beside a large diameter nozzle

Using a wider nozzle diameter is an effective way to increase the speed of 3D printing. Wider nozzles allow for a higher filament extrusion rate and larger layer heights.

Most 3D printers have a 0.4 mm nozzle. However, you can upgrade to a larger 0.6mm or 0.8mm nozzle diameter to increase 3D printing speeds.

However, larger nozzle diameters reduce the level of detail in prints, making them less suitable for high-precision or intricately detailed objects.

When switching to a wider nozzle, adjustments in the slicing software, such as recalibrating the extrusion rate, layer height, and printing temperature, are necessary.

Wider nozzles are especially beneficial for larger prints where fine detail is not a priority. I often use a wide nozzle diameter when printing large cosplay props because I know they will be sanded and painted, so layer resolution isn’t necessary.

5. Decrease Infill Density

Two 3D printed hexagons with a grid infill. The part on the left has an infill percentage of 10% while the model on the right has an infill density of 50%

Decreasing the infill density of a 3D print is a strategic approach to significantly reducing print times. Infill density refers to the amount of material used to fill the inside of a print. Lowering the infill density reduces the amount of filament required.

You can choose an infill density between 0% and 100%. An 0% infill produces a hollow object that is quickest to 3D print, while an infill density of 100% creates a solid object.

When you decrease the infill density, less material is used to fill the interior of your print. This reduction means the printer has less material to extrude inside the object, directly decreasing the print time.

However, it’s essential to balance the infill density with the structural requirements of the print. Lower infill densities make the 3D printed object lighter and use less material, which is cost-effective but also makes the final object less sturdy and more prone to damage or breaking, especially under stress.

Here’s a general guideline for selecting the best infill density for your 3D print:

  • Decorative prints (0-15%): Ideal for lightweight miniatures, display models, and objects that don’t need much structural integrity.
  • Standard prints (15-30%): A good choice for objects requiring more strength but not needing to be solid or too heavy.
  • Durable prints (30-50%): Suitable for functional parts that undergo moderate repeated stress, where tensile strength and durability are important factors.
  • Functional prints (50-100%): Best for solid functional items and components that must withstand significant forces. Remember that a 100% infill might reduce flexibility in certain models.

Decreasing infill densities is best suited for objects where internal strength is not a primary concern, such as decorative items or parts that don’t bear a load.

6. Choose a Faster Infill Pattern

Several hexagon parts with different 3D printing infill

Changing the infill pattern is another technique to optimize print times in 3D printing. The infill pattern is the shape of the internal structure of a print.

Infill patterns vary in complexity and design. Different patterns impact the finished product’s printing speed and structural integrity.

Lines and zig-zag patterns are among the simplest and fastest to print. These patterns involve straightforward, continuous movements of the print head, allowing for a more efficient printing process with fewer stops and starts. These infill patterns can be printed quickly due to their simplicity and the reduced need for complex movements or retractions of the print head.

However, the simplicity of lines and zig-zags comes with a trade-off regarding structural support. These patterns are not as strong as more complex infill designs like grid, honeycomb, or triangular patterns. The straight-line nature of these infills can lead to weaknesses, especially under torsional or bending forces. Faster printing infill patterns are best for decorative items that don’t require structural strength.

A more intricate infill pattern might be necessary for objects that require more strength, albeit at the expense of longer print times.

7. Lower Wall Thickness

Decreasing the wall thickness in 3D printing, or shell thickness, is the number of solid layers forming the sides of a print, is a straightforward way to improve 3D printing speed.

When you reduce the wall thickness, there are fewer perimeter layers to lay down. The reduction in filament translates to faster 3d printing. 

However, lower wall thickness reduces a print’s strength and quality. Thinner walls are less robust, making the print more susceptible to damage under physical stress.

Additionally, with thinner walls, the infill pattern might be more visible, potentially affecting the print’s aesthetic appeal. 

8. Remove or Reduce Supports

The left model uses cura tree supports while the right model uses standard support settings

Adjusting the support settings is a strategic way to reduce the time required to complete a 3D print. Supports are essential for printing overhangs and bridging gaps, but they can also add significantly to print time and material usage.

By optimizing your support material settings in the slicer program, you can minimize the amount of support used, thereby speeding up the printing process.

  1. Selective Support Placement: Instead of using the default setting, which often adds supports everywhere, opt for selective placement. You can selectively place supports where they are absolutely necessary, such as under extreme overhangs or large bridges. This method does take some skill, as you need to understand which parts of your print require support.
  2. Reducing Support Density: Decreasing the density of the support structures reduces print time as less filament is required. Higher-density supports are stronger but take longer to print and use more material.
  3. Using Support Patterns Efficiently: Choose support patterns that are quick to print and easy to remove. For instance, a zig-zag or line pattern can print faster and be less dense than a grid pattern, which helps reduce overall printing time.
  4. Adjusting Support Overhang Angle: Increase the overhang angle for support generation. By default, many slicers generate supports for overhangs greater than 45 degrees. If your material and printer settings allow, increasing this angle means less support material, speeding up the print. You can often get away with 60 degrees or more if your 3D printer is calibrated correctly. 

Optimizing support settings involves ensuring adequate support for overhangs and minimizing unnecessary support structures. This balance is critical to reducing both print time and material usage.

By selectively placing supports, adjusting their density and pattern, and fine-tuning overhang angles and distances, you can significantly speed up your 3D printing process while maintaining the integrity and appearance of your prints.

As a bonus, with less material, supports are easier to remove and have less of an impact on the surface of your print.

Editor’s Tip

You can also use Cura’s tree supports or Prusa Slicer’s organic supports, which use less filament than traditional support structures.

9. Print Multiple Objects at Once

Printing multiple objects at once in 3D printing can lead to significant time savings, often reducing the total print time by up to 50%. This efficiency gain is achieved because the printer works on several prints simultaneously rather than completing them individually.

And that doesn’t include the time it takes to remove the previous print, preheat the hot end, and level the print bed between prints.

When you print multiple items together, the printer’s head moves from one object to the next in a single layer before advancing to the next layer. This process continues layer by layer until all objects are completed.

Editor’s Tip

I’ve found the most significant time savings when printing on multi-color printers. For example, when I print on my Bambu Lab P1P, there’s a significant time delay between color changes. But when I print multiple objects at once, the printer prints one color before moving to the next, reducing the amount of color changes.

However, there are some considerations to keep in mind. Printing multiple objects simultaneously can increase the risk of print failures affecting all objects on the build plate. Additionally, if one object fails, it can potentially interfere with or damage the other models being printed.

Therefore, it’s essential to ensure the bed is properly leveled and the objects adequately spaced to allow smooth movement between the print head.

Editor’s Tip

When printing multiple items, ensure no overlap between support structures or bed adhesion layers, like rafts, brims, and skirts.

Article by

Mario De Lio

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