While the capabilities of today's 3D printers may be impressive, the machines still take a long time to print all but the smallest of items. Led by associate professor Chinedum Okwudire, however, scientists at the University of Michigan have found a way of greatly reducing print times without any sacrifice in quality, and without any hardware upgrades.

The faster that a 3D printer is working, the more it vibrates – this is particularly true of consumer printers, which tend to be made of light, flexible, inexpensive materials. Those vibrations can cause flaws in the print job, which is why the speed is kept as low as it is.

To address that limitation, Okwudire's team applied what are known as filtered b-spline algorithms to printer-controlling software. These algorithms are able to anticipate which parts of the print job are going to cause the biggest vibrations, and they preemptively adjust the printer's motions in order to compensate for them.

As a result, items that would ordinarily take several hours to print can be done in as little as two, as seen in the video below.

"Eventually, one of the places we would want to see the algorithm applied is in the firmware – the software that runs on the printer itself," says Okwudire. "That way, it will be integrated with the printers, regardless of the size."

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Mechatronics.