Understanding High-Speed 3D Printing: Top Seven Facts You Need to Know


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You’ve probably heard of “high speed 3D printing”, but do you understand what it entails?

Over the recent months, there has been an influx of “high speed” FFF 3D printers to the market. Such a reaction is, in large part, due to the unveiling of Bambu Lab’s high speed machines, along with a handful of high-speed DIY open-source projects. All these efforts offer hardware that’s capable of exceptional speeds. In some circumstances, the printing velocities can be up to 10 times faster than their predecessors.

But is it as simple as just purchasing one of these devices? Do they deliver on their speed promises? What knowledge should you equip yourself with? Here’s our roundup of seven insights we’ve gleaned about high-speed 3D printing.

You Don’t Quite Achieve That Speed

The crucial point to understand is that the claimed print speeds, such as “500mm/s,” won’t actually be achieved during the printing process.

Indeed, when the toolhead needs to navigate around corners, it has to slow down, meaning the effective print speed is invariably less than the advertised amount. While prints may be produced somewhat faster, it’s unwise to use the stated print speed to calculate print duration. It is better to maintain realistic expectations, and perhaps occasionally be pleasantly surprised.

This fact indicates that intricate geometrical shapes will often print more slowly due to the printer’s inability to engage high speed on long, straight passages.

Terminology

We did an entire story about this, but the words “high speed” are basically meaningless for several reasons. The usual approach by manufacturers is to describe their device as “high speed”, but the truth is found by looking at the actual specifications.

We’ve seen some devices listed as “high speed” print at a whopping 120mm/s, whereas another company’s “high speed” is 650mm/s. That’s quite a difference, even accounting for the lowered expectations described above.

Tip: ignore the words “high speed” and instead look at the specifications.

The Ultimate Speed

How fast is fast? After numerous trials with high-speed equipment, it has become clear to me that manufacturing specifications often follow a similar layout. The “maximum print speed” specification is typically idealistic, only attainable if all conditions are perfect. Conversely, there’s a more pragmatic speed that one should rely upon for actual printing tasks.

Imagine a device that advertises a top print speed of 250mm/s. Realistically, it might only comfortably operate at 150mm/s. This noticeable difference usually comes to light when you find that none of the standard print profiles utilize the maximum speed. Instead, a slower, more feasible speed is prevalent.

Attempting to operate the machine at its maximum speed, or even exceeding it, usually leads to a solitary path. The print quality, likely, would be jeopardized.

“Cheating”

Our realization involves manufacturers frequently indicating their peak printing speeds on the premise of extruding 0.1mm layers, instead of the conventional 0.2mm layers.

This practice is due to the extrusion system’s maximum flow rate, which signifies the maximum material amount deliverable per second. A standard slow, desktop machine might possess a maximum flow rate of around 20 cubic mm per second. In contrast, a genuinely fast machine may vary from 30-35, while some highly specialized systems could even top 60.

This figure, in essence, showcases the maximum material amount deliverable by the system. If you’re printing with 0.2mm layers, the system delivers a specific quantity of material.

However, if you’re utilizing 0.1mm layers, the materials delivered per second significantly diminish, empowering the toolhead’s expedited movement.

Manufacturers often develop their “high speed” specifications by extruding thinner layers to make up for a low maximum flow rate. Sadly, most manufacturers do not disclose this, leading buyers to believe the stated print speed applies to standard 0.2mm layers.

I’ve attempted to use numerous machines that claim to print at 300mm/s, but always felt short of reaching that rate. The situation only changed when I downgraded to 0.1mm layers.

However, there is a trade-off: printing at 0.1mm layers means your print will take longer because there are twice as many layers. In conclusion, our aim should be fast prints, not swift toolhead movement.

Which Specification Should Be Used?

If that’s the case, then what is the right specification to look for? Perhaps, the most crucial might be the maximum flow rate. Machines operating at high speed should feature something over 30 cubic mm/s. To achieve a high flow rate, the hot end of the system is likely enhanced or elongated to heat filament more proficiently.

Notably, numerous machines don’t even provide the flow rate. This absence of information is a significant issue, as you then have to depend on more vague figures of toolhead speed. It’s feasible to conduct a flow rate test to ascertain your machine’s capacity. There is a web-tool to produce such a test, should you want to administer one.

However, even if a machine has a good flow rate, it may still struggle with printing at high speeds. The right extrusion process is actually a harmony of several factors beyond just flow rate. The machine must also be capable of cooling layers swiftly so that successive layers can be constructed on them. Look out for intensified cooling, as well as advanced motion systems to manage the quick movements.

Materials Matter

Can the materials used make a difference? The answer is both yes and no. You may start to see a variety of filaments marketed as “high speed”. However, standardization of these materials remains as complex as the machines they are used in. The term “high speed” filament is real and refers to specially tweaked chemical mixes that allow the material to absorb heat slightly faster than regular filament. This proves to be beneficial for high speed machines which allow less time for the filament to stay inside the hot end due to rapid feeding.

Despite this, it is a fact that many standard filaments function perfectly fine in high speed 3D printers. This can be attributed to the fact that these printers often do not operate at maximum speed as popularly believed. If a printer has been specifically designed for high speed, it may force the filament through the hot end faster than it can soften, causing the extruder to click. In such scenarios, it is advisable to use true high speed filament.

Is an Accelerometer Needed?

On the other hand, a factor that permits high speed operation is vibration compensation firmware. This software relies on precise calibration of the toolhead’s weight and its movement behavior at high frequencies.

3D printers with advanced high-speed features often include an onboard accelerometer. This device is used to calibrate the toolhead through a quick preliminary test, which in some instances is repeated before every printing task.

Despite this, some 3D printers intended for desktop use still lack accelerometers. Instead, they rely on calibration data determined and fixed at the manufacturing stage. This workaround is feasible because the manufacturers are familiar with the weight and characteristics of the hardware in its original form.

If you decide to modify the weight condition — for instance, by replacing nozzles or using highly compact filament — the predetermined calibration may fall short of providing optimal results.

In conclusion, accelerometers are beneficial components to have in a 3D printer, so they are worth considering when making a purchase.

And that’s our list of things you should know about high speed 3D printing.

Original source

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“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”


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GCode-Guru

Meet the mastermind behind NozzleNerds.com: GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.

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