by General Fabb
Stratasys has published a very informative white paper detailing their thoughts on the speed of 3D printing. This is sometimes a touchy subject, as 3D prints often take many hours to complete and some manufacturers may claim their printer is faster than another's.
But what's the whole story? Stratasys says, correctly we believe, that the speed of 3D printing is actually a lifecycle of activities beginning when the STL file arrives and ends when the model is complete and ready for whatever use was intended.
In other words, it's a lot more than simply the printing stage itself. The 3D model file must be prepared, the 3D printer itself must be warmed up, fueled and initialized. Parts must be extracted from the 3D printer and finally post-processed to clean up any wonky bits that arose during the print. Certain types of 3D print technologies introduce other required steps, all of which eat up time.
The Stratasys paper explains all this and offers a number of valuable tips that are applicable not only to the high-end 3D printers made by Stratasys, but also for home 3D printers as well. Example:
Time Buckets: Build single parts throughout the workday as needed and batch a bunch of parts for an overnight run. By 8:00AM the next day you can have as many parts with FDM as you would from any other 3D printer.
Good advice. Think about the entire set of steps you must go through to get your print.