3D printing can often be presented as a plug and play solution to create limitless prototypes and models.  Along with model errors and extreme overhangs, there are still other limitations that should be understood. While the technology is revolutionary, there are distinct limitations in the market, some of which may always exist.

Speed

Each printer and extruder set up can handle different accelerations and top speeds. If a printer does not have a large enough build area to move, the carriage may never reach top speeds due to acceleration and deceleration times.

The speed at which a printer can extrude material is not only limited by the printer, but by the material itself. Certain materials require a cooling time before laying the next layer. This just cannot be sped up without changing the properties of the material used.

Cube Build AreaBuild Area

One distinct limtation on any 3D print is the build area. As of now, most FDM printers you can buy are limited to under 1 cubic foot.  This means that large prints are required to be assembled and welded post print, or they are just not printable.  At this time any current FDM printer that can build larger than this will require a large space and a high price tag.

Nozzle Diameter

The diameter of the nozzle is directly correlated to the tolerance in the XY direction.  The smaller the nozzle, the higher the quality and the lower layer heights that are possible  That being said, small nozzles are far more likely to clog or experience issues.  .6mm and .8mm are two of the easiest nozzles to work with, have stick to the bed, and complete a fast successful print, but anything with extremely thin walls or precise detail in the XY direction will be tough to complete.  Remember that every wall must be at least the thickness of the diameter on the nozzle in order to even be recognized by the printer.

 

Continue to V - Ventilation