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My local library has a 3D printer (Lulzbot Mini) for patrons to use. The prints are limited to 4 hours and if I go after work I really only have two hours before the Library closes. The software at the Library will give an estimated time, but I would like to be able to estimate the time before I get there.

Currently I have been creating my designs in TinkerCad and then I export the STL file. From the STL file I can find online estimators that will tell me how much material but nothing that says how long it will take to print.

Is there a way of calculating the estimated printing time from a STL file for a given printer?

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  • $\begingroup$ It probably makes sense for you to do the slicing on your own computer ahead-of-time and bring gcode instead of a STL -- that way you can adjust the settings to get within your time-and-material budget on your own time. $\endgroup$ – Charles Duffy Aug 11 at 23:42
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There is no way to estimate the print time of an STL file directly.

The print time is based on the number of instructions in the g-code file plus the time it takes to move the effector (the hot end) around the build area. The only way to compute that is to know what settings their slicer is using and then slice your stl the way they will; and this is assuming that you have the same slicer software. If you manage to do that, then the slicer software will give you an estimate.

Here is what you would need to do:

  1. Get access to the same slicing software, and obtain a copy of the profile that they use to slice with. The nozzle diameter, feed rate, layer height, and infill settings will affect the print time.

  2. Import your stl into the sofware and "slice it" There will usually be a large button that is used to generate the g-code. There are quite a few slicers that will output the print time into the text of the g-code. They may also show the print time on the UI during slicing.

alternatively: Email the stl to the staff at the library, and them to generate an estimate for you. They might just do it.

However, that estimate could be incorrect. It will depend on the printer itself. As an example: the time it takes to heat the bed and the hot end is never included in the time estimate the slicer gives.

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It is already established that is is possible to calculate the estimated print duration by this anwer.

The most accurate estimation is obtained with specific settings for the printer. So if you have access to the printer, your most accurate estimation would be using the software from the manufacturer or correctly setup third party software. Going to the library twice might work out as you have one day to tweak the print to get it done in 4 hours, the other day to print the file generated the day earlier. Note that there are also community solutions (cheaper than commercial printer services) available where you select the most nearby printer and let somebody else print it for you.

As an alternative (to try at home), if you navigate to the LulzBot website you can find a specific release for the LulzBot printers e.g. download here and use their released profiles (from this location) to slice your print using the material to print the object in. Note that these slicing parameter files are for the TAZ, the slicing parameters can be applied to the mini. Note that this will cause an inaccuracy for the print time, but will serve as a good start.

From their website you can read that:

How to Download and Use Print Profiles

To get printing right away, the default LulzBot TAZ print profiles listed below can be imported into Cura LulzBot Edition for ready-to-print settings. To download and save the configuration file, right click and select Save As. In order to use the print profiles below you will need to switch to the Full Settings view (Expert > Switch to full settings). After downloading, import the Cura print profile by selecting, in Cura, File > Open Profile. Navigate and select the pre-set Cura print profile file of choice.

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  • $\begingroup$ Cura LE comes with profiles for all Lulzbot's printers, including the Mini; there's no need to separately install them when using Lulzbot's edition of the software. $\endgroup$ – Charles Duffy Aug 11 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ @CharlesDuffy Thanks for the information! Will update later. I'll install when I get to a computer again. $\endgroup$ – 0scar Aug 12 at 5:51

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