The answer is it depends. Build speed, as it is used in this blog, refers to how long it can take to build a part as opposed to how fast do the mechanical axes supporting the material deposition nozzle, lasers, DLP system or build plate move. Typically in the professional systems, you won’t find a specific number per inch or millimeter measurement for build speed.
Several desktop 3D printers will give you a build speed range, but that is usually because they work with one known material. That number usually indicates deposition rate, not necessarily how fast the printer can build a part.
The following factors all affect how fast a 3D printer builds parts:
–Size of extrusion nozzle opening; the bigger the opening the more material the nozzle can lay down per layer. Smaller nozzle openings deposit less material per time, meaning it will take longer to cover the same area as a larger nozzle.
–Size of part to be printed. Small parts can be printed quickly. Large parts will take longer.
–Part orientation on the build bed. X-Y orientations can usually be built faster than parts set up to build in the Z orientation.
–Complexity of part to be printed. Even though 3D printers are extremely well suited to build complex parts, parts with many angles, curves and other geometric features will take longer to build than a straightforward box type shape.
–Material choice. In extrusion systems, every material flows at a different rate because of that material’s chemistry.
–Type of laser used in powder-bed systems.
–Type of material used in powder-bed systems. Plastics and metals will build at different rates.
–Required print resolution; how smooth will the finished part need to be? Fine resolutions typically mean slower build rates.
–Part density. Fully dense parts can take longer to build than those with filler support.
The Ultimaker desktop 3D printer, for example, lists its print speeds as follows: With a 0.25 size nozzle, it can deposit up to 8 mm3/s, a 0.40 nozzle can deposit up to 16 mm3/s, a 0.60 nozzle up to 23 mm3/s, and a 0.80 nozzle can deposit up to 24 mm3/s.
An example of a professional 3D printer, the SLM Solutions 500HL specs list the build speed for its two-laser version as 55 cubic centimeters/hour, and its four-laser version as 105 cubic centimeters/hour.