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Maximizing ROI with Fast and Quality 3D Printing

This article explores the concept of “fast 3D printing” with a focus on filament-based 3D printer speed. Read on to understand how different factors such as hardware, materials, and software can affect both speed and print quality.


What is “fast 3D printing”?

3D printing, or additive manufacturing (AM), can be faster than other production processes, especially for small batch production and prototyping or even house construction. However, it’s also arguably considered a slow method because it can take anywhere from half an hour to several days to 3D print an object.

But not all 3D printers are created equal. Some are capable of going above and beyond standard print speeds. They can 3D print at double or triple the speed of regular 3D printers. This is what industry professionals refer to as “fast 3D printing”.

Hence, while 3D printing was originally used mainly for prototypes, faster solutions are now seen as viable options for actual production, as well.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the different elements that can contribute to such a significant increase in speed. We will focus on fast 3D printing in the Fused Filament Fabrication category.


A quick look at FFF 3D printing

Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), also simply referred to as “material extrusion”, is one of the most common forms of 3D printing. Compared to other technologies like resin 3D printing or powder-based 3D printing, it’s not always the fastest 3D printer type.

Despite this, it is still widely used. FFF is affordable and versatile, and the hardware and software are both easy to set up and use. Once your settings are good to go, you just press “print” and take your models off the build plate after a few hours or days, depending on the size. There’s little to no inherent post-processing involved in contrast to resin 3D prints (e.g., washing and curing), or powder prints (e.g., powder removal with a sandblaster, powder recycling).

Plus, unless you’re running a print farm or using complex materials, standard FFF 3D printers don’t require a highly controlled environment. As long as it’s at room temperature with a reasonable relative humidity, a filament 3D printer can work pretty much anywhere.

If we take a step back and compare FFF to traditional manufacturing methods, it has its share of benefits, too. For small- to medium-volume production of plastic parts, FFF is often more cost-efficient than injection molding, for instance.

When it comes to rapid prototyping, filament 3D printing can be faster than manually crafting models or having to outsource prototype production to a factory. It also generates much less waste than subtractive methods like CNC milling.

With a 3D printer in your office, you can easily print various design iterations in a few hours or days. If you’re equipped with several 3D printers, then you can produce dozens or hundreds of parts a day.

In short, FFF 3D printing is an affordable, flexible, and scalable manufacturing solution.


How does FFF 3D printing work and how fast is it?

Fused Filament Fabrication works by melting and extruding a strand of plastic filament through a heated nozzle. The nozzle takes time to heat up to different temperatures based on the type of thermoplastic. Some can be melted at 180°C, while others require temperatures of well over 400°C.

Once it’s at the right temperature, the print head moves along the build plate to draw each successive layer. In some configurations, the build plate moves backward and forward and/or up and down.

A graphic representation of an FFF print head and its various elements. Source: Raise3D


“Print speed” in FFF generally refers to how fast the print head moves while depositing material. It’s often measured in millimeters per second, referring to horizontal line deposition. Most professional desktop 3D printers will 3D print at around 50 to 80 mm/s.

The overall speed in FFF 3D printing can depend on a wide range of factors, such as the model’s resolution (i.e., level of detail), infill density, and much more.

All of these settings must be adapted to the different materials and even to the 3D model you are printing. It isn’t possible to print every single material or model at the same speed.

In conclusion, pushing a 3D printer to its maximum specs will not guarantee a satisfying result, by any means.


Factors that influence 3D printing speed in FFF

3D printing can be a complex mix-and-match of settings that is challenging to master.

Setting aside these specific settings for now, let’s explore the three main areas that can take you from regular 3D printing to fast 3D printing:

  • Hardware
  • Materials
  • Software


Hardware considerations for fast 3D printing

The faster you print, the more you put strain on the 3D printer. Hence, just like any machine, a 3D printer needs the right components and chassis to withstand fast speeds.

The printer’s printhead or hotend must be able to churn out the material faster, too. This means being able to heat up the material quicker and maintaining a constant, reliable temperature.

Furthermore, many thermoplastics need to be 3D printed in a heated environment. For such materials, a heated chamber is critical to avoid warped parts. The printer’s different components inside must be able to remain stable within this heat – not just for one print, but for hundreds or thousands.

From stepper motors, extrusion gears, and electronics to simple things like screws and belts, you’ll need robust and durable hardware components.


Material considerations for fast 3D printers

One of the reasons FFF 3D printing is so widespread is because it works with a wide range of materials. Plastics, ceramics, metals (and even stem cells)– almost anything can be 3D printed.

However, each material needs specific printing conditions. Even switching between different brands of PLA, for example, may require subtle changes to print settings.

When you consider different kinds of plastics, such as Nylon, ABS, Polycarbonate, and so many more, adjusting the settings becomes more complex.

Every material has inherent limitations and unique physical and mechanical properties. These properties, e.g. tensile strength, can be affected by printing conditions.

By printing a material too fast, layers won’t have enough time to cool down before the next ones. This means poor layer bonding strength, translating into weaker parts.

Another risk is linked to material “flowability”, namely for fiber-filled materials like carbon-fiber-filled Nylon. The fibers that reinforce the material are precisely what make it harder to print; they’re abrasive and can damage or clog the nozzle.

Hence, while having robust hardware is important, it’s also essential to use speed-compatible materials.


Software considerations to increase 3D printing speed

Robust hardware and tailor-made materials have an effect on the ability to 3D print fast. Nonetheless, to tie it all together and ensure consistent print quality, you need the right software.

One of the most essential elements in this regard is anticipating the printhead’s movements.

When the printhead moves, it can have a sort of “jerk” to it. The faster it accelerates, the more jerk it has. These repeated accelerations – especially on complex geometries (versus long, straight lines) – cause the 3D printer’s mechanics to vibrate.

This results in numerous imperfections on the print, affecting not only its appearance but also its structural integrity.

The example below illustrates this “ringing” effect:

An example of ringing on several prints.


Hence, even with the right hardware and materials, you likely won’t obtain good print quality without software that can anticipate high-speed printhead movement.

Raise3D has developed a fast 3D printing solution called Hyper FFF. This technology doesn’t just “tell” the 3D printer to go faster– because that’s quite easy to do.

Hyper FFF means reaching the highest possible speed while ensuring top-quality prints. It strikes the ideal balance between speed and quality:


Raise3D’s Hyper FFF solution involves the following key elements:

  • An automatic calibrator and vibration-canceling algorithm to anticipate and compensate for the vibrations.
  • Specially developed materials compatible with high print speeds.
  • Intelligent software that adapts the printer’s speed based on a part’s geometry.

Thanks to this combination, it is possible to 3D print up to 400% faster while maintaining the same quality. Professional desktop solutions like the Pro3 Series achieve 350mm/s, and Raise3D’s industrial RMF500 3D printer reaches 500mm/s.

Note: Technically, the Pro3 Series can also achieve 500mm/s without a problem. However, the quality at that speed is not guaranteed like it is on the RMF500.


Balancing speed and quality while 3D printing fast

The automatic calibrator and vibration-canceling algorithm are based on Klipper’s original “resonance compensation” concept. They’re key to 3D printing fast without compromising on quality.

As we saw in the previous section, when a printhead accelerates, it causes vibrations. The idea behind Klipper’s technique is that by measuring these vibrations, we can know just how to counter them with inverse (more or less) movements.

How does it work? Raise3D’s automatic calibrator is an accelerometer-equipped module to temporarily add onto your Pro3 Series printer. In essence, it creates thousands of vibrations at increasing speed and intensity, and IdeaMaker software registers these vibrations. The software is then able to use its vibration-canceling algorithm on future prints.

Now onto the next exciting question: how fast can you 3D print with Hyper FFF technology?

Standard desktop 3D printers can go at an average maximum speed – while maintaining consistent print quality – of around 100mm/s. With Hyper FFF technology, it is currently possible to print up to 400% faster with the same reliability and quality.

Raise3D breaks down speed in levels, as you can see below:

An overview of the different speed levels you can expect with Hyper FFF. Source: Raise3D


Desktop solutions like the Pro3 Series can reach LV2 speed (350mm/s), and industrial solutions like the RMF500 can reach LV3 (500mm/s).

To achieve Hyper FFF speed, however, it’s essential to use the right materials.

Check out Aniwaa’s review, “Double the prints in half the time?”, to discover more Hyper FFF prints and insights.


Materials compatible with fast 3D printing

Raise3D’s research team developed two, main filament lines to keep up with Hyper FFF speeds:

  • Hyper Speed line
  • Hyper Core line

These filaments cover an increasing variety of plastics, from PLA to ABS and fiber-filled materials.

Thanks to special formulations, they can be melted, extruded, and cooled faster without sacrificing dimensional accuracy, surface quality, or interlayer bonding quality.


Hyper Speed line: PLA, ABS, and more

Raise3D’s research team developed unique formulations of PLA and ABS plastics that make them compatible with fast 3D printing. Hyper Speed PLA and Hyper Speed ABS present optimized molecular weight and flowability for:

  • faster melting and cooling
  • excellent interlayer bonding
  • optimal Z-direction strength

These Hyper Speed formulations also enable the print surfaces to be just as smooth and detailed as with normal filaments at normal speed.

Raise3D will continue to roll out additional materials (e.g., PETG, PC, ASA, and others) on a regular basis.


Hyper Core line: CF- and GF-reinforced filaments

For industrial, end-use part applications, Raise3D is developing compatible thermoplastics that are reinforced with fibers such as glass fiber (GF) or carbon fiber (CF).

The challenge with fiber-enforced filaments is their abrasiveness. They tend to damage printer nozzles and easily clog them. Raise3D’s R&D team found a clever solution to this by creating two layers or “cores” of material with different fiber distributions.

The inner core of the filament features a high density of fibers and is wrapped in a thin outer core with fewer fibers. Thus, the material is easier to print on the outside, all while offering unique material properties on the inside, and with much less damage to the nozzle.

Note: These Hyper Core filaments are still being thoroughly tested and fine-tuned. Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on this topic and more.


Material profiles in ideaMaker

We mentioned before that each material requires unique printing temperatures and settings. Raise3D materials all come with preset “material profiles” enabling you to 3D print without searching for the sweet spot.

Nozzle and print bed temperature, speed, layer height– it’s all ready to go.

See dozens of Raise3D and third-party material profiles


3D part size and geometry

All of the above elements play a major role in 3D printer speed. Nonetheless, an important factor remains: the 3D model itself.

The more intricate it is, the greater the trade-off between speed and quality. This is where ideaMaker steps in again with intelligent algorithms.

Each section of the print must be 3D printed at a different speed in order to guarantee its quality.

Different print speeds for different geometries. Source: Raise3D


In the image above, you can see that the outer shell (relatively simple curve) can be 3D printed at around 270mm/s. The more intricate sections, like the two small holes, must be 3D printed at a lower speed of 60-90mm/s.

Below is another illustration of this concept:

Level 0 and level 2 speeds for the same extrusion path. Source: Raise3D


This ensures that sharp details are 3D printed correctly, all while 3D printing the rest of the part at high speed.

Other print settings and how they influence speed

A number of settings can influence an FFF 3D printer’s speed. Two of the main settings are layer height and infill density.

Layer height

Before 3D printing, you slice your model into hundreds or thousands of thin layers.

The thinner these layers, the more detailed and smooth the model will appear and the more layers there will be. Inherently, more (thinner) layers mean longer print times.

Infill density

Infill density is the amount of material used to fill the inside of a 3D model. The denser the model, the stronger it will be.

A denser model translates into more material usage and more time to 3D print this extra material.


What This Means For ROI And Productivity

Achieving fast 3D printing while maintaining professional and production-grade print quality is possible. And it comes down to an intelligent mix of the right hardware, software, and materials, and adapting to the 3D model’s shape.

With Hyper FFF, you can achieve speeds that are on average 3.8 times faster than standard professional 3D printing options on the market. But 3D printing speed is not the only fast side of Hyper FFF. Reaching ROI with it is fast, too.

The boost in productivity that such high-speed 3D printing yields pays back the investment in weeks, not to mention the benefits of shortened delays and product time-to-market.

And for applications like tooling or jigs and fixtures, fast 3D printing holds quite the advantage against traditional methods like CNC milling or injection molding. The latter imply expensive tooling– especially when considering design iterations and fixes– and hundreds if not thousands of parts must be produced in order to recoup the initial investment. Now, instead of being mainly used for rapid prototyping, FFF 3D printing today is settling in as a viable manufacturing alternative.


How to start 3D printing faster with Raise3D

3D printing at high speed is easy with Raise3D’s plug-and-play solutions, and multiple options are available.

●    Already own a Raise3D Pro3 Series printer? Purchase a Hyper Speed Upgrade Kit and boost your productivity in no time.

●    Do you own a Raise3D Pro2 Series printer? A hardware and firmware update is also available (coming soon for E2 and E2CF).

●    Interested in 3D printing large, industrial parts? The RMF500 offers the highest speed and can print at up to 500mm/s.

For more information, contact our team or explore more Hyper FFF resources.


Fast 3D printing FAQ

What is the fastest a 3D printer can print?

This depends on the type of 3D printer. Each technology has different speeds and factors to consider. Desktop 3D printers with Hyper FFF technology can reach over 350mm/s depending on the chosen material and the part’s geometry.

What is the fastest FFF 3D printer speed?

With Hyper FFF technology, it is possible to 3D print at speeds of up to 500mm/s on industrial solutions like the Raise3D RMF500. Desktop solutions like the Pro3 Series can 3D print up to 350mm/s.

Is there a way to speed up 3D printing?

For a significant increase in speed for extrusion-based 3D printing, you’ll need robust hardware, advanced algorithms, and specially formulated materials that can handle the speed while maintaining consistent quality.