While we often talk about the strength of a model as a vital part of 3D printing, there are also many cases where it doesn’t really matter too much (such as models and figurines), with print speed being a more significant factor.
As you may predict, when it comes to the tradeoff between strength and speed, the infill pattern is one of the main factors that come to mind, and with so many options to choose from, making the right decision isn’t always easy.
Today, we will be taking a detailed look at the fastest infill patterns to find out the ones that allow you to achieve the quickest print times, which we hope will make the decision-making process easier for everyone.
So, what is the fastest infill pattern in 3D printing?
The zig-zag infill pattern is the fastest option in 3D printing, with the lines pattern coming in very close.
While the speed differences between infill patterns won’t show too big of a difference for smaller models, you can easily save hours in situations where the model you’re printing is large.
Moving forward, we will look at the amount of time it’s possible to save by using one of these patterns in cases where the model’s strength is not too big of a concern and explain why some infill patterns are faster than others.
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What Is the Fastest Infill Pattern in 3D Printing?
Fast infill patterns come in quite handy in scenarios where you need to print models as quickly as possible as they can easily save you hours of your time.
After running tests with a few models of different sizes and shapes, we have found that the zig-zag pattern is the fastest infill pattern, with the lines pattern coming in at a close second.
For this experiment, we have conducted our tests in Cura slicer with the following infill settings and a Creality Ender 3 printer:
- Infill Density – 20%
- Infill Line Distance – 3mm
- Flow – 100%
- Combing Mode – Within Infill
Without further ado, let’s get down to the results of the tests, where we will be comparing two of the fast infill patterns (zig-zag, lines) with one of the more balanced (triangles) infill patterns and one of the most durable infill patterns (gyroid) available.
Our first test model was a very standard 20x20x20 cube, an adequately easy model to print.
- Zig Zag – 29 minutes
- Lines – 30 minutes
- Gyroid – 31 minutes
- Triangles – 30 minutes
As we can see from the results, there isn’t a considerable speed difference for a small model such as the 20x20x20 cube, as the amount of infill this model contains is not too large.
The 80x80x80 cube is a scaled version of the same 20x20x20x cube from the previous experiment, with no differences except the size.
- Zig Zag – 11 hours 10 minutes
- Lines – 11 hours 32 minutes
- Gyroid – 12 hours 39 minutes
- Triangles – 11 hours 38 minutes
As expected, we can see that the speed difference is much more considerable with a larger model, where a faster infill pattern such as zig-zag allows you to save almost an hour and a half over the gyroid pattern.
Stanford Bunny (107.4 x 83.4 x 107.9 mm)
The Stanford Bunny is one of the most famous 3D models and is also a great model to test the capability of your 3D printer.
Here are the results:
- Zig Zag – 8 hours 24 minutes
- Lines – 8 hours 37 minutes
- Gyroid – 9 hours 20 minutes
- Triangles – 8 hours 40 minutes
Once again, it’s easily noticeable that the zig-zag pattern comes out considerably on top in terms of speed compared to the rest, scoring an hour in print time difference compared to gyroid infill.
So, what makes an infill pattern, such as zig-zag – faster than others?
While a pattern such as zig-zag is a simple one that doesn’t require too much extruder movement, an option such as gyroid is quite complex, where the printhead has to move a significant amount of total distance.
As a result, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the complexity of the shape of the infill pattern decides the print speed.
What Is the Fastest Infill Pattern Available in Cura?
Despite being the most popular slicer available, Cura does not support all the possible infill patterns in 3D printing.
Fortunately, both the zig-zag and the lines patterns are available in Cura, which are two of the fastest options you can use right now.
Between the two, we would recommend using the zig-zag pattern as it provides the fastest speeds.
What Is the Fastest Infill Pattern Available in PrusaSlicer?
In PrusaSlicer, which is another very popular slicer, the situation is slightly different from Cura.
As PrusaSlicer does not support the zig-zag pattern, the fastest infill pattern available for PrusaSlicer is the lines pattern.
Considering that the speed difference between zig-zag and lines patterns aren’t that great (~10 minutes on a model that takes 8 hours to print), you won’t be missing out on much.
Is Gyroid a Fast Infill Pattern?
While gyroid is a pattern that is heavily used for the strength it adds to the model, speed is far from its forte.
The gyroid pattern is what we would consider being high-strength due to its shape, making it one of the slowest patterns available in 3D printing.
As infill strength and infill speed are inversely correlated, it wouldn’t be right to expect fast printing speeds out of an infill pattern known for being strong.
Is Honeycomb a Fast Infill Pattern?
Honeycomb is perhaps the first word that comes to mind whenever infill patterns are the subject.
While honeycomb is a fantastic infill pattern for strength, it’s also one of the slowest ones due to the amount of movement the extruder has to perform to print this pattern.
Once again, with strength and speed being at two different edges, a strong infill pattern is usually slow, or at least slower than low-strength infill patterns.
Patterns such as zig-zag, lines, and rectilinear are all fantastic options if you’re looking for the maximum amount of time efficiency possible, so you can feel free to use whichever option your slicer provides.
While these patterns will only offer a few minutes of difference for smaller models that won’t be containing a lot of infill, they can easily save you hours of your time for large models that require a lot of plastic.
That being said, remember that these faster patterns will highly reduce the strength of your model, meaning that you should only use them for decorative projects such as figurines.
Mike started his 3D printing journey with the Anet A8 when it first came out back in 2017, and has been obsessed with 3D printers ever since. Nowadays, he primarily uses his Ender 3 to print functional parts that make his life more convenient whenever possible.