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Long story for hopefully a simple yes/no answer:

I have a lightly modified Ender 3 Pro (BLTouch, glass bed, beefier bed springs and nobs, led lights) and I daydream about someday getting an "Ender Extender" kit to go larger or something, but before I ever do that I need to drastically speed up the prints. Last night the first layer on one of my prints took 40 minutes and I watched the whole time to make sure it laid down well. Can't imagine waiting around with a larger build surface. I understand basic settings like lighter infill/less perimeters/etc... but when it comes to really changing the speed and acceleration settings I'm a bit of a newb.

So after reading this article on improving print speeds, it seems like the Bowden tube style default extruder on my Ender 3 probably doesn't have the grip strength and/or constrained filament path to really push filament faster.

Based on that same article and this one, it seems like there are a lot of options for extruders and hotends to upgrade. The reason the Micro Swiss appealed to me is that it seems like this option is pretty much bolt-on plug and play (additional info here).

And it seems like it already has a convenient spot for my BLTouch.

Which brings me to the title of my question: will that Micro Swiss extruder/hotend combo do what I think it'll do? i.e. allow me to push filament faster and heat it up quicker?

Is there a better alternative extruder/hotend that is also pretty easy to figure out?

Lastly (maybe this should be a different question/too open-ended) are there other relatively simple upgrades/modifications to the Ender 3 Pro that will help it print faster?

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  • $\begingroup$ You should ask one question, and clearly, not many with different answers. In any way, the extruder is the limiting factor, not the Bowden tube. Change extruder to one which has dual drive and that's it, you don't need it to be direct drive as the Micro Swiss. Also, change heat break to a bimetallic one from Slice Engineering. $\endgroup$ – FarO Apr 7 at 13:24
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If you want a single word answer, then no.

Before you ask this question you need to figure out why your prints are slower than you want them to be. With default settings, unless your models are something dead simple like a big cube or cylinder, you're almost certainly limited by acceleration, not extrusion rate or even max print/travel speed (which you'll almost never achieve). Gcode analysis tools like gcodeanalyser.com will help you gauge this by predicting actual speeds the printer will achieve. Note that even if your model is simple, printing infill and top/bottom layers involves a lot of acceleration/deceleration cycles, so even for simple models this may still be your limiting factor.

Until you reach very high accelerations (over 5000 mm/s²) letting you actually achieve very high speeds (over 150 mm/s or so), the only way to make extrusion your limiting factor is by using really thick layers or wide walls. At 0.2 mm layer height and 0.4 mm line width, even a sustained 150 mm/s is only 12 mm³/s volumetric extrusion rate which is high but reportedly within the capabilities of the stock Ender 3 extruder and hotend (but probably requires cranking up the temperature).

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. Sounds like extrusion is probably not the main culprit. So I guess my followup question is: what should I do about the acceleration? Larger nema motors? I don't mind googling but I'd love it if you could point me in the right direction. $\endgroup$ – Joseph Crozier Apr 7 at 14:19
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    $\begingroup$ @JosephCrozier: Your first step is probably just tuning your settings (on printer and/or in slicer) to figure out what you can achieve and where you hit limits you can't go past. Then figure out how to improve whatever the underlying cause of the limit you hit was. Bigger steppers are unlikely to be an ingredient in improving anything. Most of the limits you'll hit will probably be soft ones, not hard ones, where quality starts going down (surface defects, weak prints that break easily, etc.) as you push it further. $\endgroup$ – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Apr 7 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ @JosephCrozier: You might want to browse the #SpeedBoatRace tag on YouTube to look at what people attempting extreme fast prints have done to achieve them. Mostly it involves low mass moving components (needed to achieve high acceleration) and powerful hotends and extruders (needed to increase extrusion rate once you get there). I'm not sure how far you could take these ideas on an Ender 3 frame. I would expect the moving bed/print (with relatively high mass) is a big limiting factor. $\endgroup$ – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Apr 7 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you again for all the help $\endgroup$ – Joseph Crozier Apr 7 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ @JosephCrozier: Nice. The 45° rotation is a nice trick to spread out the forces between X and Y. Note that setting the speed to >700 like they did doesn't seem to be doing anything; at the size of a benchy and 10k acceleration, you'll never be exceeding 400 mm/s. BTW one thing you can do to tune your motion before considering upgrading hotend/extruder: print really fast but with very thin layers where the extrusion rate doesn't matter. Once you get that working but can't reproduce it at thicker layers, you know it's time to consider upgrading your hotend/extruder. $\endgroup$ – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Apr 7 at 18:25

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