Configuring Your Slicer Software To Reduce Printing Time
3D printing isn’t quite as simple as loading up a model and pressing a button. The print preparation software, often known as a slicer, provides you with an overwhelming number of settings for the print. Each of these settings has an effect on the print quality and print time, so it’s important to configure the software appropriately for the goal you are trying to achieve, whether that be a quick prototype or a polished final product.
In this post, we’ll be focusing on software settings for rapid prototypes. For this use case, speed is the most important consideration. Even if you want to print your final product at a higher quality level, it often makes sense to trade quality for speed during the prototyping process.
Our slicer software of choice is Simplify3D, but if you’re using another slicer such as Slic3r or Cura, you should be able to find comparable settings in your software.
Choose A Large Layer Height
This is the most impactful setting for speed and quality of 3D prints. For ultimate detail, you would select a small layer height, such as 0.1mm. However, a print at this layer height could take a very long time. For a fast prototype, we recommend choosing a larger layer height, such as 0.3mm. If we’re running the print on a machine with a larger nozzle, we might bump it up even higher to 0.32mm.
Choose A Low Infill Percentage
Most 3D-printed objects are not completely solid inside because you can achieve equal quality and strength with a scaffold-like support structure inside the print instead. For final products, we would typically suggest an infill percentage of 25-40%, or possibly as high as 95% for an object that needs to be very strong or watertight.
However, for a prototype you can often use a lower infill value, such as 15%. This will print much faster, and in many cases will be sufficiently strong. In many cases, you can actually get an even stronger print by increasing the number of shells (outlines) to compensate for lower infill.
Orient Your Parts Carefully
When you load a model into the printer software, it’s important to pay attention to how the part is oriented on the print bed. In many cases, you can greatly reduce printing time by orienting the part in a way that reduces the amount of support material required.
Additionally, 3D printers can typically print much faster in the X and Y axes as opposed to the Z axis. This reduces the number of layers required for the print., If you can orient the part such that the largest dimension is in the X or Y direction, you’ll get a much faster printing time. These simple changes can knock hours off of the print time for a large object. It’s worth it to spend a few minutes trying different orientations and checking the estimated print time for each one.
These Settings Are A Starting Point
Tweaking software settings may not be the most glamorous part of 3D printing, but it’s something you should not overlook. If you take the time to understand the settings available in the software and choose settings that fit the goals of your print, you’ll get better results in less time.
The settings we’ve described here are just a few of the things we change when one of our customers needs a prototype quickly, but they are some of the most impactful settings in the print slicer software when speed is a priority. If you have a printer, give these settings a try for your next prototype. If not, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help you create your next 3D-printed product!