# Is 3D printing progress linear?

Is 3D printing progress (the one you check on the display of a 3D printer) linear or not?

By linear I mean that equal differences in percentual progress will take the same clock time.

• Depends on the printer. Probably usually not. Programmers are very lazy (source: am programmer.) It's harder to make the progress bar properly linear, so most of them won't bother. Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 16:56
• On some printers it's just percentage of layers printed. So if your part has wide portion on the bottom and thin on top, the progress will be very non-linear. Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 12:21
• Or sometimes it's a percentage of the instructions in the source file that have been run. Of course, they don't all take the same amount of time... Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 14:36

There are lots of ways in which one could interpret this question, but in pretty much all senses I would say no, the progress is not "linear", unless you're talking about a progress bar whose values were computed based on a detailed computation to predict times.

Progress is not linear because different moves the printer makes take different amounts of time. Some may be performed fast, others slow. Even if you requested everything (travel, perimeters, infill, solid fill, etc.) to take place at the same speed, they would still take different amounts of time, because physics. Just like your car doesn't immediately start and stay at 65 MPH just because the highway speed limit is 65, the printer does not immediately start and stay at the requested speed. It has to speed up and slow down gradually (accelerate/decelerate), both from stops and when entering/leaving curves.

As a result, portions of the print with lots of detail take a lot longer than portions with mostly long, straight or almost-straight lines.

On top of that, for the print process itself to look "perceptually linear", you'd need a similar amount of time to be spent in each layer. However, some layers take a lot more time just by virtue of the amount of material in the, even if detail weren't an issue.

• Thank you for the answer. It clarified the issue for me, my experience with my printer was not sufficient to tell either way and it felt silly to run a print just to find out. I guess I don't really understand what the progress bar measures exactly. Anyway, now it makes more sense why it seems to be stuck in a certain percentage for a long time. Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 3:47
• Funnily enough, "portions of the print with lots of detail" might just make the progress bar progress a lot faster than portions with just straight line since some firmwares use the amount of lines of code to calculate progress and curves have lots of individual segments. So there's really no safe answer without using plugins that calculate the duration on each line / layer.
– towe
Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 8:09

If you are using a resin DLP 3D printer. (The kind that projects the entire mask in one instance).

Then 3D printing progress is linear (except for the first layers which are cured for longer).

And the depends on the height of your 3D print, not on its complexity.

Longer answer: Depends on the printer.

Many consumer grade 3D printers show progress by how many layers are printed in relation to how many layers in total. But some layers take a lot longer than other layers, so it's just an approximation, at best.

Some higher tier 3D printers calculate differently, and as a result the progress indicator is more precise. For example, the current models of Bambu Lab printers are pretty good at showing precise progress on the display. I think most resin printers are fairly accurate as well.

I think that if we look back at this question in 5 years or so, the answer should probably be changed to: "Yes, usually", since printers get better and better each year.

I think for all practical purposes, the time can be considered linear, yes.

Sure, there are some differences in print speed depending on the shape of the layer (e.g. ratio of infill, different disconnected surfaces, etc. etc.), but those are all independent of what I believe the real question here is. Assume that one has an object that is very wide at the bottom, but very thin at the top. One could assume that the progressbar is based on the height of the print. In that case, the print would of course not be linear, since the top layers would be printed much faster.

This is not the case, since the percentage is normally calculated on the number of gcode instructions done and to be done. So aside from minor differences in speed of different instructions, it would be near-linear.

The only exception to this would be the heating-up. For most slicers this is not counted into the prediction of time, and is also a very non-linear part of the print.

OP's comment under @R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE's answer indicates that this this is the question he really had. The progressbar being stuck for long periods of time cannot be explained by difference in speeds of certain regions in the model.

• "Minor differences in speed of different instructions" is where you're wrong. These are major differences. Measuring as % of gcode file size in bytes, which I believe is what Octoprint does, can give you anywhere from "vaguely right" to "horribly wrong" depending on the particular file. If the slicer estimated the times and put LCD update commands in the gcode, it's likely to be closer, but these estimates are usually somewhat wrong too. Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 13:31
• @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE "major differences" compared to what? Sure, a layer with lots of fine perimeters and hops and retractions will take a lot longer than a perfect square with only infill. (assuming sensible slicer settings) But are these differences significant, compared to how non-linear the time would be if you assumed the percentage to be an indication of print height? No. They would be near-negligible. That is my perspective in this answer. Which doesn't mean your answer is incorrect. It's just that I'm making the assumption that mine is closer to what OP wanted to know. Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 13:40
• Yes, they are significant. Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 15:42

No, 3D printing progress is not linear. Sometimes there are big breakthroughs, like new materials or faster printers, and other times progress slows down. Innovations and improvements don’t happen at a steady pace. It can speed up or slow down depending on new discoveries, research, and market demand. So, the progress in 3D printing is more like a series of steps rather than a straight line.

• The question isn't about the progress of 3D printing as a technology, the question is about printing an object being linear. As in, does the progress bar linearly vary with time.
– 0scar
Commented Aug 20 at 16:19