When purchasing a quality 3D printer on a tight budget, the Creality Ender 3 is an excellent option to consider. On its first release in 2018, it quickly rocketed to popularity among 3D printing enthusiasts thanks to an affordable price tag and outstanding quality prints. It also offers tremendous versatility, suitable for both beginner and experienced makers alike.
This is in no small part due to its large and dedicated community, which has come up with unique upgrades and modifications that give users more options to optimize their prints. In turn, the popularity of the Ender 3 has led to Creality releasing follow-up versions of the Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 V2 and Ender 3 S1. Each version continues to build upon what makes the classic model so remarkable by providing even more access to fine-tuning for an even greater range of desired print results.
In this article, we’re going to explore the different speed settings available in Cura and PrusaSlicer specifically for the Ender 3, so that you can take your prints up a notch without worrying about damaging your equipment. So come along on this journey as we uncover how each of these settings affects your machine and how changing them can significantly improve your 3D printing experience.
Print speed is an important factor to consider in 3D printing, affecting both the print quality of your model and how long it will take for it to be finished. It can vary depending on what slicer settings you use, such as layer height, support structure types and settings.
The details of the various print speed options that are available in most 3D slicers are provided in the sections below. We’ve also listed suggested values for the various Ender 3 variants for each parameter.
Let’s get started!
The first option is the actual print speed. This is the major variable you should modify when you want to control how quickly your Ender 3 prints. It is actually termed “Print Speed” in most 3D slicers.
The print speed setting is an integral part of any 3D printing process. It acts as a parent setting, controlling the values of other speed settings and thus ultimately controlling how fast the printer is actually extruding filament and applying it to the model. Infill speed and wall speed are also two important speed settings (which we will discuss further later) that are directly influenced by this print speed parent setting. Understanding how they interact and how they can be set is essential for getting the best results in 3D printing.
The nozzle size and filament type are two important considerations when determining the print speed setting. However, a standard Ender 3 (Pro/V2/S1) printing PLA typically prints between 45 and 65 mm/s. We’ve discovered that 60 mm/s works fantastically, however once more, outcomes will differ from printer to printer.
However, it’s important to note that different materials require different printing speeds. ABS filaments, for example, can typically be printed at speeds of 60 mm/s with good results; however, if you’re working with PETG or TPU, then you should slow down your print speed to 40 and 30 mm/s respectively.
It is recommended that you stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines when it comes to the suggested speed, but, there’s nothing wrong with making adjustments as needed. Be sure to adjust your speed in increments of 5 mm/s or less so you don’t risk ruining your project due to over-revving.
One of the most important slicer settings when it comes to achieving these results is infill speed – the setting responsible for controlling how fast your printer lays down the interior structure of your model. At times this may not be seen from the outside – unless you set up a print with no walls or top/bottom layers.
While most 3D slicers, like Cura, make it easy to start printing models with pre-set default settings, it’s important for users to understand what effect those settings can have on the overall print time of their model. Specifically, the infill speed is almost always set to the same value as the main print speed. You may want to consider adjusting this setting if you find that your model is taking significantly longer than expected to complete
We advise maintaining Cura’s default infill speed setting at the same value as your primary print speed setting for the Ender 3 (Pro/V2/S1). This indicates that your infill speed should be between 40 and 60 mm/s.
It’s important to have some control over the infill speed of your 3D prints, but be sure to exercise caution when adjusting it. A too-high setting may cut printing time but can lead to poor or inconsistent quality in your infill. The best way to monitor the success of the print job is to keep an eye on how well your model’s infill structures are being printed during the process – you can’t tell from an external view if it’s been printed correctly. By working with small increments of 5 mm/s, you’ll be able to ensure the best possible results for your 3D prints.
One of the other settings that may be most important to take into consideration is wall speed — this setting controls how fast the 3D printer prints the walls of your model. Walls are important elements in a successful print as they help support and define each layer and separate the infill structures on the inside from the layer which you will view after a successful print.
For 3D printing software like Cura, the default setting is to produce walls half as fast as the main print. This setting is designed to make sure that your 3D model looks as good as possible, with the outside walls being printed more smoothly and evenly.
Although increasing wall speed can accelerate print times, you should proceed with caution as too much increase can adversely affect the quality of your prints. If you’re using a recommended print speed of 60 mm/s with an Ender 3 and printing with PLA, then the wall speed should be set to 30 mm/s as default. Increase this to 35 or 40 mm/s for potential time savings – just be sure not to go too far or there could be a noticeable difference in the print quality.
When printing other materials, the same calculations apply. Furthermore, PETG should perform well at an outer wall speed of 25 to 30 mm/s. But, because TPU should be printed slowly, we recommend leaving the wall speed at 15 mm/s (half of 30 mm/s).
If the walls still look good at a faster print speed, then increasing the setting in increments of 5 mm/s is allowed. (We do not recommend increasing the wall speed over the main print speed preset). Going faster than the primary print speed setting, on the other hand, will be ineffective because it makes no sense for the visible area of a model to be printed quicker than other segments.
Supports are a helpful tool when 3D printing with an Ender 3 printer, as they ensure that the model prints properly and can make complex designs with overhangs possible. If your slicer has support activated, you should also adjust the speed setting to control how fast they print. Choosing a speed that is too slow or too fast will affect your print quality.
The Ender 3 and PLA materials don’t require a special slow-speed setting for support. In fact, the default settings are set to a speed that is half of the one used for building up the main component. This means that post-printing, the supports will come off easily without risking any damage to your model.
We suggest beginning your print at the suggested main print speed of 20-30mm/s and then adjusting the support speed to 30-40mm/s for optimum structure stability. If you want to adjust further, it is best to do this in small increments of 5mm/s – this will ensure that you don’t risk causing extrusion issues from increasing the support speed too much.
On a related note, Increasing the support speed on your Ender 3 has its advantages, but it can also cause the inevitable problem of the printhead running into support structures mid-print. Fortunately, this issue is easily avoidable! By enabling the Z Hop setting in your 3D slicer (like Cura), you can ensure that the printhead will lift during travel moves so that it doesn’t accidentally make contact with supports. This setting is perfect for those who want great print speeds while avoiding potential print-ruining scenarios altogether.
First Layer Speed
The significance of the first layer is probably well-known to everyone who has ever used a 3D printer. An incorrect first-layer print speed will produce layers that do not adhere properly, leading to the whole project being compromised. Therefore, it’s crucial to accurately adjust the first-layer print speed.
Modelling in Cura helps to simplify this process by utilizing its setting of one-third of the main print speed for the first layer speed, also referred to as the initial layer speed. This lower speed value ensures that the bed has plenty of time to adhere to the surface while adhering to specified parameters, thus preventing such issues as warping or detachment from base plates during later stages of printing.
We recommend keeping the speed of your first layer at its default setting. Impatience often leads people to increase the speed of their first layer in an attempt to shorten printing times, but this is not recommended as it can potentially cause significant problems that can hinder the quality of the print or result in complete failure altogether. Although making a change may save you minutes in the short term, it could end up costing you hours if things don’t turn out as planned.
The travel speed is the last speed parameter we’ll discuss for Ender 3. While most of the other speed settings we’ve gone over control the rate at which filament is extruded from the hot end, travel speed instead determines how fast the print head will move around during a print job. When printing two models at once, for instance, the travel speed determines how quickly the printhead moves from one region of the print to the next.
When creating 3D models, the travel speed of Cura’s default setting (150mm/s) gives a good quality finish to your prints. If you want to push it though, you can increase the speed up to 180 mm/s without any significant changes to the finished product. For further increases in speed, we recommend that you make small adjustments of 10 to 15 mm/s – this will let you gauge results as well as help correct any unwanted issues. Just be careful not to go too fast; exceeding 220 mm/s could produce unwanted vibrations and reduce the precision of your prints.
Also, If you happen to have the Ender 3 S1, you should be mindful of the fact that it has a heavier direct extruder and therefore needs to travel at lower speeds rather than what other versions of the Ender 3 are capable of operating on. A good rule of thumb would be to stay around 110 mm/s, but you could experiment with the default speed of 150 mm/s or even go slightly higher as long as you don’t exceed 180 mm/s.
While the previously mentioned parameters are the main determinants of how quickly your Ender 3 prints, a few more slicer settings will also have an impact on print time. You might be interested in changing these options since, while they may not directly affect your printer’s speed, they will still have a measurable impact on how long a print will take. These options are listed below, along with a brief explanation of what they each do.
- Infill density: The infill density of a 3D-printed part can make all the difference in the look, feel, and ability of your creation to withstand outside forces. Expressed as a percentage in a 3D slicer, the higher the value of this setting, the more solid your 3D print will be. This ensures that you’re creating something strong, However, reducing this value can be an effective money-saver by cutting down on both print time and material usage.
- Layer height: Layer height is one of the most fundamental settings for a 3D printer. Layer height simply describes the thickness of each layer, and by changing these settings you can customize the time it takes for your prints to finish. For instance, if you’re using an Ender 3, which has a default layer height of 0.2mm, increasing this setting to 0.24 or 0.28 can drastically reduce printing time while still producing a quality finish.
- Wall thickness: 3D prints rely on walls to create defined features for the outside of a model. By precisely controlling the wall thickness, you can achieve precision prints with strength that stand up to wear and tear. The time it takes for a print is directly related to the wall thickness – thinner walls save time but at the cost of strength. It’s wise not to decrease the default wall thickness lower than 0.6 mm, as it will produce a weaker model that is more prone to breaking or warping over time. As such, it may be beneficial to experiment by decreasing by small increments such as 0.2 or 0.4 mm if desired.
- Nozzle temperature: Nozzle temperature is crucial for the 3D printing process. When you switch filament materials, it’s important to adjust the nozzle temperature accordingly to ensure successful results. It’s also essential to consider that even if you adjust the print speed by 25%, your nozzle temperature should also be adjusted by 20-30%. This will help prevent issues such as under-extrusion and make sure that more filament can melt and flow out of the nozzle effectively. Basically, the higher the nozzle temperature, the faster extrusion occurs.
- Retraction speed: Lastly, Retraction happens when the extruder pulls back on the filament during a move to reduce material seeping into adjacent layers and causing stringing. Setting the retraction speed depends on both the material being used and the printer configuration; however, it can also be changed to help reduce print times. Increasing this speed by only 5 or 10 mm/s will have a slight effect in shrinking print times, as well as helping to prevent stringing; though you don’t want to set it too fast, otherwise you may run into issues with extrusion.
I am Bheema Shankar. I have worked on SLS, CJP, DLP, SLA and FDM technologies at Think3D. Currently working as Process and application engineer at VEER-O-METALS PRIVATE LIMITED. I am always fascinated by the process of creating things layer by layer. This fascination led me to pursue a career in 3D printing technology. I am passionate about how 3D works and enjoy exploring new ways to improve the 3D printing process.