A CURA 3D SLICER TUTORIAL TO GET YOUR SLICER SETTINGS RIGHT (Part 6)

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AnetLau
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MATERIAL SETTINGS – GETTING MORE SPECIFIC


Next, are the material settings that I defined earlier in the configuration menu. Notice that a couple of the options have the little f(x) symbol. This symbol means that option is usually calculated based on another option but is currently being overridden. For instance, I have set the printing temperature for the initial layer to 190°, five degrees higher than the standard temperature I defined in my printing profile. I am using this higher temperature to promote better first layer bed adhesion for this print.


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TEMPERATURE SETTINGS

A printing temperature of 185 degrees Celsius is near the bottom of the range for my filament, but my print has some significant overhangs, so I want to keep the temperature down so the filament can cool as quickly as possible.

In contrast to that, my build plate is set to a toasty 70 degrees Celsius for the duration of the print. Before adding a glass plate to my print bed I was printing at 60 degrees without issue, but I now have the glass floating above the heated aluminum on silicone thermal pad, so I’ve added ten degrees to account for losses transferring between the two.

Also, I found with this setup that I could no longer reduce the build plate temperature after the initial layer because the prints tended to unstick from the glass. This is why both my initial and regular build plate temperature values are the same.

Whenever you make a change to your printer, you may have to tweak some settings to get the best performance you can. It takes some trial and error, but it’s well worth it. My glass bed made the entire build surface much more level, allowing large objects to be printed without having to worry about the aluminum warping around the edges.

FLOW RATES


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My initial flow rate is set ten percent higher than my regular flow rate. I changed this to counteract some first layer problems I was having. An increased initial flow rate causes the printer to squish a little more filament out during the first layer, which makes it fill in nicely on the bed. The Initial Layer Flow setting isn’t visible by default. You have to enable it by going to that section of the Settings configuration window. This is most quickly done by clicking on the gear icon on the Material header.

RETRACTION SETTINGS


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Cura has retraction enabled automatically on most printer profiles. If you’re not familiar with retraction, what it does is reverse the extruder so the melted filament in the nozzle is drawn upward a set amount when the print head has to travel from one area to another. This can reduce or, ideally, eliminate the thin strings that sometimes connect separate points (stringing).


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STRINGING IN ACTION


I’ve tried printing with the default options, and I’ve printed with retraction turned off. Both resulted in poor performance from my printer. With the default retraction distance of 6mm, my printer was under-extruding after it traveled. With retraction turned off, my prints had a crazy amount of stringing (as seen above). I’m still fine-tuning, but it appears a retraction distance of 2mm mostly eliminated stringing.

The minimum travel distance can be changed. However, the value that is automatically calculated based on shell dimensions is generally fine.

PRINT SPEED

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For print speed, I have found that my Maker Select Plus will produce good quality prints reliably at 60mm/s. With some more tuning, it’s possible it could print faster. I would probably have to get a much heavier table to keep the shaking to a minimum. That being said, notice that I have set the initial speed to a third of the regular print speed. This is mostly to help with bed adhesion. (Have I made it clear enough how many factors are involved with bed adhesion?).

COOLING

Scrolling down on the settings, I have cooling enabled, which is the default and highly recommended. This relates directly to the next section.

SUPPORTS

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For this print, I do not have supports enabled. I designed the duct to print fine without them as long as I have cooling enabled to harden overhangs as fast as possible. If I did need supports, however, one of the things I like about Cura is the Support Placement option. You have a choice of generating support everywhere, or just where unsupported structures are above-uncovered print bed, labeled as Touching Build Plate. This allows a decent amount of flexibility in how supports are generated. If you are unfamiliar with supports, please see the image below.


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EXAMPLE OF 3D PRINTER SUPPORTS


Generally, support material consists of very thin lines placed to allow the object to rest on it during printing. This prevents it from sagging if it has a significant amount of surface area that hangs freely. Supports are designed to be thin enough to be easily removed once the print has finished. In the above example, my printer would have had a lot of difficulties printing such a large overhang. With Cura’s ripple-patterned supports printed under it, it turned out pretty well.

If you use a 3D printer to create complex objects (tabletop miniatures are a good example) you will have to use supports. So far my printing needs have allowed me to get away with just using Cura’s default support options. There are many ways to customize them to fit your needs.

BUILD PLATE ADHESION

The last setting I am using is labeled Build Plate Adhesion. This gives you the choice of a skirt, brim, or raft. Brims and rafts directly support your print by adding more layers below and/or around it. They help keep your object adhered to the print bed, and are most necessary if the print is tall or narrower at the base.


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A skirt is just a single layer perimeter drawn around the object to prime the extruder. You can see a skirt around my stringing example a few sections above. A skirt is basically a quick throwaway print that ensures the filament is flowing well by the time the printer starts on the actual object. This helps with first layer bed adhesion (yep, more adhesion tips!).

Finally, below all the settings in my screenshot, Cura has done the math on my print. It has estimated print time and material cost. 22 cents to upgrade the duct on my filament cooler? Sign me up!


FINAL WORDS


I hope you have learned something from this overview. It only scratches the surface of the options Cura has available. Because it has so many features, Cura can support basically any FFF/FDM 3D printer around, from the simplest single extruder model to giant multi-extruder monsters. It’s all about setting the software up to support your use case.

A great thing about slicer settings, like the ones we just covered, is they are a safe place to experiment and try to get the best results possible. As long as you keep the basic capabilities of you printer in mind, the worst thing you can do is waste some filament. Of course, don’t change everything all at once, or you may not know what change had what effect. Getting the best quality you can out of your printer takes time and a fair amount of patience, but it’s definitely worth it.

With that, it looks like I have a print to start. While I’m off printing can you do me a favor and share this page with anyone you think might be interested? Help us get out there so we can keep improving this great 3D Printing community.

Lastly, if you have any more questions or comments please leave them below. We love hearing from you guys. After all this content is for you.

WRITTEN BY: DAN JILEK


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