Decrease Print Time: Designing

Decrease Print Time: Designing

The most common issue with Additive Manufacturing is the printing time compared to subtractive manufacturing (rapid machining).  While AM saves time in the long run (especially in situations where specialized prototyping or significant machining time are required), subtractive manufacturing has been known to be faster in some situations with proper resources.  There are several strategies that users can put in place to improve their print time without altering the print quality.

In this post, we will go over what adds time to a print, how to avoid adding time and the best ways to design your parts in Eiger.

What adds time to a print:

Large Surface Areas

Believe it or not parts with large surface areas are more time consuming and means more walls to print for that part. To print these parts, the print head needs to move back and forth at a significantly slower rate on walls and infill.  Even if the part is smaller with more intricate surface details, it can still take longer to print.  Sometimes the simpler the part, the better when it comes to time differences. Take the two images below as an example, the gear and cylinder both have identical outer diameters. Even though the cylinder contains more material; the gear would take 30% longer print time because of the increased surface area and intricate design.

Even though there is less material on the gear, it still takes more time to print.

Adding speed holes

Although it may seem like adding speed holes would improve the print time, it actually increases print time because it adds more surface areas to the part.  Consider the comparison below, adding a large hole increases the print up to 10%.

By removing material from the center, 10 minutes is saved on the print time.

Support Materials

These features significantly increase print time more than any other feature. The support materials essentially create a wall and as mentioned above walls take the longest because they are a slower process.  While supports are necessary to print for some parts, there are other avenues that can be taken to limit adding supports.

  1. Part orientation: by changing the side the part prints on can drastically change the print time and even diminish the need for supports all together.

Here’s a part with two different orientations the difference between them is significant print time:

The picture on the left has an estimated print time of 13 days, the right has a print time of 2 days. The user was able to eliminate 11 days off the estimated print time with orientation.

The reorientation shaved 11 days off the print time and nearly 500 cubic centimeters of material.

  1. Limit overhangs: With Eiger algorithms, supports will automatically be added to any overhang over 45 degrees from vertical with Onyx and 30 degrees for Nylon (when the feature is turned on). To limit this, make sure the non-critical overhangs do not exceed these degrees. If there are no overhangs that need supports, turn off the supports feature and limit angles to 55 degrees for Onyx or (45 degrees for Nylon). The part will print with less time and no problems.
  1. Design with a print face in mind: This will help users save more on design time rather than overall print time, but this idea is to help by designing for printing rather than altering the part to fit the printer. Figure out what orientation the part should print in before designing it.
  1. Split the part: Often, parts are too complex and by splitting them will help decrease support altercations and time.  The part will need to be assembled after printing, but it might help eliminate overhangs, print speed and still maintain unibody strength with Loctite 401 adhesive.

Layer Height

Layer resolution vs. print time

Eiger default layer resolution of 100 microns creates high quality surface finishes and increasing the layer height to 200 microns will decrease your surface finish quality and print time overall.  If your part does not require quality, then it might benefit to change the microns.

Designing for 3D Printing

Many users think it’s best to maximize output by consolidating machined and printed parts together into one print job will make it easier to print but more time consuming.  Realistically, the best solution would be to only print geometries which would benefit from being 3D printed over machined.  (Do not print shafts or other parts that are trivial to machining, it will only add time to the workflow)

Proper Procedures

To ensure your print will be successful make sure you follow the rules of setting up your printer for printing by properly leveling the bed plate, adjusting the print heads and making sure there is enough material for the job. This will improve your print time and minimize errors or failed prints.

Saving time on prints is complex but not impossible. It takes time to consider other avenues and by following these tips, designing will become simpler and eventually decrease print times.

Get first hand advice and tips on Eiger software by signing up for an Eiger demonstration.

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