How long does 3D Printing Take?

3D printing a part varies depending on various factors, and it could take somewhere between 20 minutes and a week. The factors that determine how long it takes to 3D print a part include the size and geometry of the object the 3D printing technology used in the process. In other terms, the larger the piece, the more complex its geometry is, the longer it takes to 3D print it.

Part Size

· Volume

Many factors determine how long it takes to 3D print a part, and the volume is the first aspect you would want to look at. As a rule of thumb, a more substantial part takes longer to 3D print. Smaller pieces, say one cubic inch, may take as low as five minutes to 3D print. On the other hand, larger parts may take up to 200 hours.

· Footprint (XY-dimension)

The footprint of the part can also be described as the area it occupies on the built surface. This factor affects the time taken to 3D print an object.  If the footprint is large, it means that the print head will have to travel far from the home position to complete a layer.

· Height (Z-dimension)

As much as the size and footprint are essential factors, the build height is the most important dimension when it comes to determining how long it takes to 3D print the part. For instance, an object that is, say, 4x4x7 will take longer to 3D print compared to a part that measures 4x4x5. This can be looked at in the following way; the taller object has more layers requiring the print head to make more passes to make. Excluding various geometry, each layer should take the same duration to 3D print.

Part Geometry

The complexity of the geometry of a part is another essential factor that determines the time taken to 3D print an object. A more complex part has more complex layers. And as the layers become more and more complex, more time is required for the print head to replicate the design (geometry).

An object that has multiple and tiny features will look like a group of small islands. At the same time, a simple part looks like one large body. The print head will have to replicate and draw the boundary of each body. This means that the more the bodies, the longer it takes to 3D print the object. However, the extent to which the geometry of a part affects the time taken to 3D print it depends mostly on the 3D printing technology used.

3D Printing Technology

At this juncture, we can point out that many 3D printing technologies can be used to create parts, and each technology uses its unique processes. For instance, FDM 3D printing works by melting plastic like a hot-glue gun. On the other hand, SLS 3D printing uses lasers, while Polyjet and stereolithography use UV light, to solidify liquid photopolymers. However, when it comes to determining the time taken to 3D print a part, the most vital factor to consider is the configuration of the print head.

· Paint Brush

This is a 3D printing technology in which layers are created in the same way that a person would paint them on a piece of canvas using a brush. The print extrudes materials from one point and moves all over the build tray as it draws out each body in the layer. Such 3D printing technology includes FDM, selective laser sintering, and stereolithography.

How long does 3D Printing Take?

· Paint Roller

For such kinds of 3D printing technologies, the print head moves across the layout of the part (in a to and fro motion) the same way one would paint a wall using a paint roller. The material is extruded from different points on the print head instead of a single point. 3D printing technologies include Polyjet, Multijet, and Colorjet 3D printing.

The difference between the two 3D printing technologies is that paint brush 3D printing takes longer to 3D print a part compared to paint roller 3D printing technology. For instance, an FDM print head needs to travel a longer distance by spiraling all around the build chamber, drawing out the layer. At the same time, a Polyjet print head makes quick moves across the entire print bed.

Layer Height

We have looked at hoe essential the overall height of a part is when it comes to how long it takes to 3D print it. However, the height of each layer also determines how long it takes to 3D print the same object. A shorter layer often has fewer features, greater details, and a smoother surface finish. At the same time, a shorter layer means that there will be more layers, and therefore it will require more time to 3D print the part.

Quantity

All the factors mentioned above that determine how long it takes to 3D print an object are based on the idea of printing many copies of the same part. You are most likely to reduce the time taken to 3D print each copy of the object.

For instance, it can take you about one hour to 3D print one part on Polyjet, but it may take you two hours to 3D print ten copies of the same object. However, 3D printing two copies of a large part using FDM may take you twice the time you would take to 3D print one such object.

Post-processing

Activities in the post-processing part of 3D printing include support removal processes, cleaning, rinsing, and drying the 3D printed parts. Each 3D printing technology requires a different technique for post-processing. The average time taken to post-process a 3D printed part depends on various factors. For instance, a smaller part may take as little as 15 minutes to clean, while large parts take longer. The crucial part of post-processing activities is taking caution not to damage the 3D printed part because they can e fragile, depending on their designs.

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