Cheap 3D printers are all the rage these days. Their budget price points combined with their ever-improving performance make them a compelling option for many beginners.
One of the more popular affordable printers out there is the Creality Ender 3 (and the Ender 3 Pro). If you’re interested in a deep dive of its settings, you can check out our review, but the setting we’re going to focus on today is print speed. This is, quite simply, how fast the printer is printing.
In fact, there are many settings related to printing. In most slicers, “print speed” is a setting that is used to calculate several other speed-related settings. When we refer to “speed” from this point onward, we’re referring to the highest-level speed setting and assuming the default calculations are used to derive the other speed settings. To learn more on this, check out our detailed article on optimizing speed settings.
The first thing to consider is filament type.
The first filament most hobbyists learn to print with is PLA. It’s derived from plant materials and is generally considered the most forgiving of filament types. Typically, users print at around 60 mm/s with this filament.
TPU, and other flexible materials, are going to have to print at a much slower speed than PLA or PETG, since it’s much softer than PLA. Another thing to consider is the Ender 3’s Bowden extruder setup – this means flexible materials should be printed much more slowly, at as slow as 20 mm/s to 40 mm/s.
PETG is a filament that prints at a hotter temperature than PLA, and therefore can withstand higher temperatures. If you wanted to print something to keep in a car in a hot climate, for example, PETG would be a better choice than PLA. PETG will usually print at about the same speed as PLA, with success at as fast as 60 mm/second. Many users slow to around 40 mm/second because PETG can be a bit stringy, and slowing it down may alleviate the issue.
ABS is a strong, impact-resistant material – in fact, it’s the same stuff Lego blocks are made of. It tends to require an enclosure around the printer, so this filament is often used by more experienced users. Typically, it prints at the same print speed as PLA or PETG, between 40 and 60 mm/s.
The level of detail depicted in your model affects how fast you can go. The more detail you need to produce, the slower you should go (with a lower limit, of course). The Ender 3 is a ‘regular’ machine with a standard motor, stepper, and nozzle setup, so you can stick with the general guidelines here: As low as 40–50 mm/s for detailed prints and as high as 70–80 mm/s for rougher models.
The maximum print speed for the Creality Ender 3 is 200 mm/s, according to the manufacturer. However, that is much faster than most users would be able to run it. In fact, this is usually the speed of a travel move rather than a print move.
As we stated in our review, this machine has an issue maintaining a level bed, since the bed assembly is a little more fragile than the norm. If there’s any wobble in your build plate, the issue might be exacerbated by faster speed due to the higher forces of inertia involved in back-and-forth moves. Hence durability is something to keep in mind when printing on this machine.
Variations in filament brand, or even the printer itself when you make modifications, can cause the optimal speed of the Ender 3 to fluctuate significantly. Thus the key is to keep tuning and experimenting to find the optimal settings. In addition, cheaper machines like this one could vary in quality between specific units, so even our extensive testing might not yield usable data for you. Try it yourself, and see what you come up with!
Feature image source: 3dprintlove.com
License: The text of "Ender 3 Print Speed: All You Need to Know" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.