Sept. 2, 2020
Faster 3D printing is something that everyone - from hobbyists to people creating end-use products - wants to achieve. With these quick tips, you’ll learn how your printer’s construction, hotend, and extruder affect the speed and how you can improve it.
While you can get usable parts when 3D printing fast, you’re more likely to have blemishes in areas where there should be smooth surfaces or detailed angles. At low speeds, riding a skateboard is easy to handle, but head down too steep of a hill, pick up too much speed and it becomes much harder to control and keep along the same path. 3D printers experience the same sort of speed wobble if the construction of the 3D printer is not rigid enough to support those speeds. 3D printers that move the bed back and forth will often have support beams to tie the gantry to the bed frame, preventing the gantry from wobbling back and forth as the print gets taller, has more weight on the bed, and therefore, more inertia. A rigid construction from frame to print head assembly means that ghosting and ringing artifacts will be significantly mitigated.
However, a rigid frame isn’t all it takes to print fast, you also need to have motors that can keep up without skipping steps. The faster a 3D printer is moving, the more torque the motors will need to have to bring it to a stop, change direction, and speed up in one smooth motion. Generally, the longer the stepper motor, the more torque you can get from the motor, although there are some brands of high-quality stepper motors that can achieve higher torque with the same form factor and with quieter performance.
A big part of any change to the extrusion process is heat transference. Printing faster has similar considerations as changing the nozzle size of the 3D printer, after all you are effectively changing the flow rate in both situations. When changing from, for example, a 0.4mm nozzle to a 1.0mm nozzle, you will need to either raise the temperature that you are printing at or you can slow down the 3D print. Because you are pushing more material out of the nozzle, you need to give it adequate time or extra heat to ensure it’s extruded at the right temperature. Even if the heater block itself is 200°C, at a high speed the PLA filament may have only enough time to heat up to 160°C before being extruded, which means layers aren’t going to adhere to each other. It may be necessary to raise the temperature to 260°C for PLA just to ensure it can heat to 200°C by the time it is extruded.
It’s also worth considering upgrading to a hotend that has a more powerful heater cartridge like the Slice Engineering 50W Heater Cartridge or to upgrade to a high-flow hotend like the Slice Engineering Mosquito Magnum, E3D Volcano, or E3D SuperVolcano in order to quickly heat up filament, with the possibility of not needing to adjust the temperature at all!
All extruders are not created equal, and some just may not have the grip strength necessary to push filament through without struggle. Basic extruders can sometimes have difficulty extruding at relatively low speeds, so anything faster than that will surely introduce more problems. More advanced extruders will take care to have tension adjusters for more grip on the filament, and a constrained filament path so it doesn’t deviate from the extruder gear to the hotend. If you intend to 3D print flexible filaments at a high speed, this is imperative for this challenge, as an unconstrained extruder will cause the flexible filament to spit out the side and immediately fail the print.
Having dual drive gears with a gear ratio is a quick way to get the much needed torque out of an extruder. The Bondtech QR or Bondtech BMG and the E3D Hemera have these features which means more often than not, your point of failure will be your bowden couplings well before these ever give up on extruding.
With these tips in mind you should have the knowledge necessary to dive into some high-speed 3D printing and see if your 3D printer has what it takes to 3D print in minutes versus hours. The pseudo-standard print speed of 40mm/s is a respectable place to find your print speeds if this seems like more fuss than you’re interested in, but for those of us with a need for speed, you know what you need to do, and you can find all the upgrades you need at MatterHackers. Are you already well-suited for high-speed 3D printing? I’d love to hear more about your machine in the comments below.
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