Decoding 3D Printing Time: Factors Affecting Print Duration

Decoding 3D Printing Time: Factors Affecting Print Duration

3D printing is a manufacturing process that involves creating three-dimensional objects from digital files. The process involves printing, layer by layer, until the final product is produced. This form of printing is also known as additive manufacturing, and it has brought significant changes to the manufacturing industry. One of the most asked questions about 3D printing is “how long does it take to 3D print?” The answer to this question depends on several factors. The complexity of the design, type of 3D printer used, print settings, and the type of material used are some of the factors that determine the printing time. This article will explore these factors in detail to help you understand the duration it takes to 3D print.

Factors that affect the printing time

The printing time for a 3D printing project depends on various factors. Here are some of the crucial factors that affect printing time:

  • Complexity of the design: Intricate designs with many details will undoubtedly take longer to print than simple designs with fewer details.
  • Type of 3D printer: Different 3D printers have varying printing speeds, capabilities, and print settings that will affect the printing time.
  • Print settings: The print settings determine factors like the print speed, type of supports used, infill, among others. These settings affect the printing time, with more detailed and intricate settings taking more time.
  • Material type: Different materials require different printing temperatures and speeds, with some materials taking longer to cool than others.
  • Size of the object: Larger objects will take longer to print than smaller ones since the 3D printing process is done layer by layer.

When it comes to print settings, generally, lower settings will reduce printing time. However, this might also lead to lower quality prints. The same applies to the type of material used. Some materials might take longer to print, but they will produce higher quality prints than others. Therefore, depending on the desired outcome, a trade-off between printing time, print quality, and material type may need to be considered.

Note: some websites like Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory have directories of free-to-download 3D models. These websites can prove to be useful resources for finding pre-designed 3D models that you can 3D print yourself. Additionally, a website like 3D Hubs can help you find 3D printing services in your area if you do not own a 3D printer yourself.

What affects 3D printing time?

The time required for 3D printing a part depends on its size, height, complexity and the printing technology used. The larger the part and the more intricate its design, the longer it takes to print. 3D printing time can range from 30 minutes to several days.

Types of 3D printers and their impact on printing time

The type of 3D printer used for printing a project is a crucial factor that affects the printing time. Some of the common types of 3D printers include Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Stereolithography (SLA), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), and Digital Light Processing (DLP). The printing time for each of these printers depends on their print technology and features.

Here is a breakdown of how the different types of 3D printers affect print time:

Type of 3D Printer Printing Technology Impact on Printing Time
FDM Extrusion of melted plastic material to build a model layer by layer Takes longer to print compared to other types of 3D printers due to the slow speed and lower resolution
SLA Cures liquid resin with a laser to create a model Printing times for SLA printers are fast, with machines churning out models in just a matter of hours. However, print accuracy and precision tend to decrease as the printing time increases.
SLS Uses a laser beam to selectively sinter powdered material layer by layer to build a model Takes considerable print time since it needs to include a cooling period to prevent warping of the powder material on which it works. Additionally, there are post-processing requirements to remove the unused powder material and brush off the surface of the finished part.
DLP Cures liquid resin with a projector to create a layer Printing times for DLP printers are fast, with machines churning out models in just a matter of hours. However, the downside of this type of printer is that it uses consumable resin, which can be more expensive than FDM filaments over the long term.

Depending on the application, selecting the right type of 3D printer can significantly influence the desired outcome and the printing time. While each printer creates unique results, choosing one that efficiently produces the parts you need within a reasonable timeframe may be the most critical factor.

If you do not own a 3D printer, many websites provide 3D printing services that you can use to bring your designs to life. These services will typically require a 3D file, which can be downloaded from a range of online model repositories like Thingiverse or MyMiniFactory. This includes uploading a file to a 3D printing service provider, and they will provide a quote and an estimated time of delivery.

Which of the following impact printers print fastest?

The fastest impact printer is not specified in the given information. However, laser printers are known to be the fastest type of printer.

The Effect of Print Settings and Quality on 3D Printing Time

Another crucial factor that affects the 3D printing time is print settings and print quality. To achieve the desired print quality, the print settings may be adjusted, which affects the time it takes to print the object. Here are some of the ways print settings affect 3D printing time:

  • Resolution: Increasing the print resolution can significantly increase printing time as the printer has to draw finer structures. However, It also results in finer detail and accuracy in the finished product.
  • Infill Density: Print time is inversely proportional to the density of the infill. A lower infill density will decrease print times but will adversely affect the rigidity and strength of the finished product.
  • Print Speed: Increasing the print speed will decrease the time needed to print the object, but print quality tends to decrease as the print speed increases.
  • Layer Height: Changing the layer height affects print time since it is inversely proportional to the layer time. For example, thinner layers will create higher resolution prints but will take more time to print.
  • Print Temperature: Print temperature can significantly affect printing time, with higher printing temperatures taking more time to complete. Additionally, post-processing procedures like sanding, coating, and painting can also increase the total printing time.

Quality prints are sought after by 3D printing enthusiasts and companies looking to produce functional prototypes or finished products. Some printers may come with automatic calibration features, but calibration may still need to be performed manually to achieve the desired print quality. This can be a tricky process, and in case you need some assistance, there are communities and forums online that provide resources and help 3D enthusiasts optimize their print settings.

Some websites and software can adjust print settings, and Cura is one of the most popular. The open-source software has an extensive library of print profiles available, and users can customize these settings depending on their specific printing needs, whether speed, quality, or both.

What affects printing speed?

When it comes to 3D printing, there are various factors that affect the printing speed. Part size, nozzle diameter, infill density, layer height, and support structures are some of the factors that can influence how long it takes to print something. To achieve faster printing speeds, it’s recommended to use a larger nozzle diameter, lower infill density and layer height, as well as smaller support structures. Additionally, some 3D printers and slicer software also offer settings to adjust the printing speed, so utilize those if available.


In summary, there is no simple answer to the question, “how long does it take to 3D print?” It depends on the complexity of the model design, type of 3D printer used, print settings, and the type of material used. While increasing print speeds can reduce printing time, it is essential to keep in mind that print quality may also be affected. A balance must thus be struck between speed and print quality.

Moreover, it is crucial to adjust your expectations accordingly and account for the time it takes to print when planning a 3D printing project. Print times can range from a few hours or less for small, simple designs to days or even weeks for larger, complex models. Finally, if you are new to 3D printing, it is vital to understand that getting good print quality can take time and experience.

By considering these factors, you can optimize the printing process to suit your preferences and requirements. With the right print settings, materials, and printer, you can significantly reduce the time it takes to complete a print. Keep in mind that adjusting print settings can be a daunting task, but with the wealth of resources available online, you can be sure to get the perfect print that meets your needs.