The Undeniable Drawbacks of Fast 3D Printing You Need to Know

While accelerating 3D printing might seem like a time-saver, it's not without its drawbacks.

CREATED: APRIL 3, 2023 6:28 PM MST
UPDATED: JUNE 4, 2023 9:25 AM MST

In the quest for accelerated production, the focus on faster 3D printing methods has become a priority. While speed is undoubtedly an attractive feature, it's important to consider the potential drawbacks of fast 3D printing. By understanding these limitations, you can make informed decisions for your projects and ensure the best possible results.

The 3D Printing Trinity

When it comes to speed, quality, and strength in 3D printing, you typically can only optimize for two. Increasing your printing speed might be appealing, but it comes with a trade-off; less time is allowed for molecular diffusion, leading to weaker layer bonds. Conversely, slowing down your printing process gives more time for molecular diffusion, which can result in stronger layer bonds. It's a delicate balancing act, navigating the interplay between speed, quality, and strength in 3D printing.

Compromised Print Quality

One significant drawback of fast 3D printing is the potential for compromised print quality. The faster the print speed, the more likely you are to encounter issues such as:

A. Layer adhesion issues and weak structures

3D printing relies on layer-by-layer bonding to create objects. When printing at high speeds, the layers may not have enough time to bond properly, resulting in weak structures. This issue, known as "Poor 3D printing layer bonding," can lead to prints that break or fail under stress.

A fracture point in the layers due to fast 3D printing. (Image credit: CNC Kitchen)

B. Decreased print resolution and surface finish

Fast 3D printing can also affect the overall resolution and surface finish of your printed objects. As the printing speed increases, there is less time for the printer to lay down each layer with precision. This decrease in "3D printing resolution" can result in rough or uneven surfaces, requiring additional post-processing work to achieve a smooth finish.

C. Inaccurate and imprecise prints

Accuracy is critical for many 3D printed objects, especially in industries like aerospace and medical devices. Fast 3D printing can lead to inaccuracies in dimensions and details, causing issues with the final product's functionality and performance.

Material Limitations

High-speed 3D printing may impose some limitations on the types of materials you can employ for your projects. Some material-related challenges you might face include:

  1. Limited options for materials suited to rapid printing. The majority of "3D printing materials" are not designed to withstand high-speed printing. Several materials necessitate slower printing speeds to ensure adequate layer adhesion and prevent complications such as warping, shrinking, and blockages. If you're seeking materials capable of sustaining high flow rates, Wuxn Classic Filament might be an ideal choice.

  2. Problems with material cooling and warping. Certain materials like PLA tend to warp and deform when printed at accelerated speeds. These issues arise due to inadequate cooling time between layers, subsequently affecting the overall print quality and structural soundness.

  3. Difficulties working with flexible materials at elevated speeds. These materials are more susceptible to bending and flexing, leading to blockages and under-extrusion.

Increased Risk of Print Failures

Faster 3D printing can also increase the risk of print failures, such as:

Nozzle clogging and jams
High-speed printing can put more stress on the printer's nozzle, increasing the likelihood of clogs and jams. "3D printer nozzle issues" can lead to uneven extrusion, print failures, and additional maintenance requirements.
Print detachment from the build plate
As the printing speed increases, there's a higher chance of prints detaching from the build plate. "3D print adhesion problems" can result in warped or failed prints, wasting time and materials.
Layer Shifting
As you ramp up the print speed, the torque curve of the stepper motor drastically drops. This reduction in available incremental torque leads to skipped steps. When the stepper motor skips these steps, the 3D printer fails to recognize its misplaced position and continues to print. This error subsequently results in a layer shift.
A layer shift in the Y-direction due to fast 3D printing. (Image credit: 3Ding)

Sustainability Concerns

Fast 3D printing can have an impact on energy consumption, waste generation, and mechanical degradation, raising sustainability concerns:

A. Increased Energy Consumption

Higher print speeds often require more energy to maintain motion and the associated electronics. This increase in "3D printing energy efficiency" can lead to higher energy costs and a larger environmental footprint.

B. Higher Waste Generation 

As the risk of print failures increases with faster speeds, so does the amount of wasted materials. Minimizing "3D printing waste" is essential for both cost-effectiveness and environmental sustainability.

C. Mechanical Wear and Tear

The force exerted on a machine's components is directly proportional to the product of mass and acceleration. As the printing speed increases, so do the forces acting on the 3D printer's system. Consequently, this heightened stress can result in increased wear and tear on the printer's mechanical parts, leading to more frequent maintenance requirements and potentially reduced lifespan for the equipment.

Balancing Speed, Quality, and Strength

In order to achieve the best results with your 3D printing projects, it's essential to strike a balance among speed, quality, and strength. Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Selecting the ideal 3D printing speed is vital. Analyze the specific needs of your project and determine whether to emphasize speed, quality, or strength, according to its purpose.
  2. Understand the significance of slower, meticulous printing for intricate, small-scale, and detailed designs.
  3. If high-speed printing is essential, bolster the wall line count, infill, and layers on top and bottom. For sturdy parts printed at speeds of 200 mm/s or more, aim for at least eight walls, an infill of 40 percent or higher, and six or more layers on top and bottom.
  4. Consider utilizing cutting-edge techniques and technologies to enhance print quality at elevated speeds. These technologies might include adaptive layer height, motion frequency compensation, high-performance materials, and high flow rate extruders.

    As seen in the free WuxnSlicer Software, printing profiles have been optimized for strong, quality (GoTo) or fast printing.


    Though fast 3D printing might appear appealing at first glance, it's crucial to recognize the potential pitfalls associated with it. Promotional claims of ultra-high speeds, such as 500 mm/s and 20 m/s² acceleration, often turn out to be mere marketing gimmicks. By understanding the limitations of rapid 3D printing and maintaining a balanced approach, you can make informed decisions to ensure the success and longevity of your 3D printed projects.

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