No Racing Allowed!

I need to put this writing. It’s not the first time. it’s about the human expectation of fast is always better and that the fastest is the winner of the race. But Three Dimensional printing has never been a race.

I see hobbyist 3D printing expectations rising to a point that can not be achieved within established parameters. I am writing about the speed of FDM style 3D printing is presented as some sort of competition..

The newbie hobbyist assumes fast printing speed is a green flag for buying a quality machine. In a way. that is entirely true. Fast machines need to be very high quality. 

But there are limitations. Lightweight (<60 pound) machines can be made to move fast, but print quality will surely be sacrificed. 

It’s all about the laws physics that can’t be changed by marketing hyperbole. Mass and inertia are not laws slick marketing and the customer can ignore.

There are also laws about thermodynamics phase change from solid to liquid and hydrostatic flow principles of the liquid plastic in the extruder. But I am getting into very deep science, physics and engineering. 

Some buyers are ignorant of the science and physics of 3D FDM printing. That’s OK as there is no need to be an expert. Just knowing there are rules  and reasons printers behave as they do. 

Inertia is the elephant in the room. Bodies at rest remain at rest until acted upon by an outside force. Bodies in motion remain in motion until acted upon by an outside force.

If it needs to move fast and change direction is good to be light weight. If it needs to be firm and steady, it needs as much mass as possible.

Lightweight desktop 3D printers will NEVER be the fastest and highest print quality at the same time. That’s my RANT!

Buying a hobbyist desktop 3D printer advertised as 400 mm/s and expecting every portion of the print to run at that speed AND produce perfect prints is not a possibility. 

One, the Snapmaker SJ1, says high speed only at 0.1mm layer height. and only on larger prints where straight like acceleration can get to that speed. It also weighs 60 pounds. That probably isn’t enough. 

The surface it sets upon is critical too. My SJ1 sets on a fairly stable stand but is definitely not “best practice”. Because, It’s free standing. Best practice is a very solid platform such as a countertop or massive bench built into the mass of the room. Attached to the walls or firmly attached to the mass of the floor. 

The rule is: If it shouldn’t move, it needs to be as firm and massive as possible. If it needs to move and make sudden stops and changes in direction (like a print head), it needs to be as light weight as possible. 

I am not in the market for expensive commercial printers that can overcome these limitation. They are large, heavy and not intended for desktop printing. Not to mention again, expensive.

I am interested in the affordable high speed desktop  printers I just (kinda) condemned, as they should be excellent quality printers when run at “normal” 40-100 mm/s. And, when needed and appropriate, burst up to their advertised “demon” speed.

I will expect a loss of detail quality and a lot of wear and abuse of the hardware if I try to maintain that fast speed for every print.

But that is not openly discussed. The marketing goal is to sell new and faster printers and not to discuss inherent limitations. 

The customer must self-educate when selecting a new 3D printer.

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