Time is relative. Depending on your situation, an hour can be a long or a short period of time. Many users who are starting their adventure with 3D printing are surprised at how much time is required for a single model. It’s not just a few seconds, as the case may be with printing over a sheet of paper with ink. 3D printing takes hours. And that should not seem surprising.

How fast is 3D printing?

The time required for printing is one of the most confusing issues and might be disappointing to many people, but it’s worth taking a moment to consider this issue. The confusion stems for the oft repeated statement that 3D printing is a method of fast prototyping and rapid manufacture of objects. It is indeed the faster option as compared to other methods available, it is also significantly cheaper.

However, depending on how complex the 3D model is, the process of printing can take hours. For example, printing an iPhone case on a Zortrax 3D printer lasts about 3 hours. A highly detailed figurine of a character from a TV show or video game will take up to 10 hours. It is still a lot faster than using conventional methods of production, where minimal order quantity is required. In this case it can took few  weeks with cost reaching a dozen or so thousand dollars.

It is all about precision

What does 3D printing look like and why does it require time? The printing material needs to be heated to the proper temperature, and then printing is conducted point by point, later by layer. Consequently, the larger and more complex the object, the more time will be needed to print it. 3D printing is a very precise method, which also makes the process longer. After all we want the printed models to be exact representations.

A 3D printer can create a nut, but it has to be made with precision to fit the screw. The complexity of models and their precision dictates how long it takes to print those which require high precision, such as mechanical components, will be more time-consuming, simpler models – less so. 3D printing is a complex process which is technologically impossible to accelerate without sacrificing quality and precision. Fortunately, it’s not necessary to monitor the process closely, especially in the case of highly automated printers, such as the Zortrax M200 and M300.

To make printing easier, a level-headed approach to preparing the models for printing is also advisable. When you’re preparing your project, you need to consider how to print it in the most efficient manner—how to prepare your equipment, calibrate the printer and only then commence printing. This will save you problems later on and make planning the printing process easier, especially when more than one element is being printed.

3D printing advantages

The speed of printing might be regarded as a drawback of 3D printing, but consider that it’s still much quicker than ordering any particular object in a factory (not to mention that ordering just a single item is often impossible). However, this is something that you have to consider when planning on how to use a 3D printer in your business. 3D printers are great for creating personalized products for mail-order companies.

3D printing requires time due to how complex it is, how it is conducted layer by layer. There is no technology to create objects in the blink of an eye. The speed of printing is dependent on the quality of the print-out. But this shouldn’t be considered a disadvantage in light of the enormous potential of a 3D printer.