How long can you expect a 3D printing project take? Well, this depends on a number of factors that can cause the project to take longer or shorter.

3D printing actually describes a number of processes with a number of different materials. The one thing they all have in common is that they produce a three-dimensional result. Some materials and processes are better for some projects than others, depending on the kind of strength you need and/or the size of the project.

Project size is very important to determine how long 3D printing will take. 3D printing is done layer by layer. Larger projects necessarily take longer, whether they require more or just wider layers.

Increased detail also causes 3D printing to take longer. Are you looking to make an incredibly detailed D&D figure or just 3D printed plain chess piece? Expect the first to take longer than the second. Layer thickness is what determines how fine details can be on a 3D printed project. Thinner layers mean a smoother result, with less of a ‘stair-stepping’ effect. Thinner layers also take longer to print.

Size and desired level of detail are two of the biggest factors in how long it takes to 3D print a project.

Project material can cause a great deal of variation as well. Every material used for 3D printing requires its own technology that is specifically designed for printing in the material. As of now (3D printing technology is always developing), nylon and plastics take a shorter time to print than metal.

Material is naturally directly connected to the method needed to 3D print a product and therefore how long it will take. Resins need to be printed with stereolithography, which does require support structures and takes a bit longer, as those support structures must be manually cut away.Selective laser sintering (SLS) is faster since it requires no support structures. At Jawstec, we offer nylon SLS 3D printing. Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF) is quicker than SLS.

Finishing time is also vital. While everyone likes to imagine that you can take a perfect product off a 3D printer as soon as it is done, but there is actually quite a bit to be done after the printing process is finished. Post-processing includes cleaning, sanding, polishing, etc. Different materials and printing methods can require certain post-processing procedures and orders may call for specific ones to get the desired result. Some post-processing takes longer, while other kinds are simpler and take less time.

Perhaps the most overlooked– and possibly the most important– factor that affects how long 3D printing takes is the work that needs to be done on the digital side. The CAD drawing needs to be cleaned up and double checked to make sure it will go through the printer correctly. This lays the foundation for a correct print. If there’s a problem, fixing it can take a long time before any material starts being printed at all.

At Jawstec, we can help you avoid this and many other issues. Our 3D design service will help you work from idea to CAD drawing to finished project as quickly and smoothly as possible. 3D printing is the cutting edge of manufacturing and is beginning to revolutionize manufacturing. Contact us today for a quote and see how we can help you leverage 3D printing to help your business.

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