3d printing: knowing how to use Cura for slicing your creations

You have mounted your 3D printer , you may be facing some problems on your first 3D prints , we will see more precisely in this article the important settings that you can make in your slicing software (or slicing) to succeed every time (or almost) your creations!

Once you have created (or retrieved) a file for 3D printing, you will have to go through the slicing (or cutting) stage before starting to create your print. This step allows you to go from the 3D model to the instructions to give to your 3D printer. Concretely, this will consist of creating a series of instructions (temperature, movement of the axes, ventilation, creation of supports, etc.) that the printer will play. And it is in these instructions that the keys to the success of your creations are often hidden. The screenshots that I put for you are those of Cura, but you will find these same parameters in any slicing tool.

In Cura, you will already need to indicate the model of your 3D printer. You will be able to define quality profiles (there are already standards) by playing on different criteria. You find the profiles in the drop-down list at the top left:

Cura - quality profiles

Cura: layer quality and thickness management

Cura - quality and thickness

In this block of options, you will be able to define the quality of your 3D creation.
The “Layer Height” property is used to give the thickness of the layers. The smaller the value, the higher the quality but the longer the printing time. To give an idea, the standard quality is 0.2mm when the super quality is 0.12mm. This is due to the fact that the finer the layer, the less we will have “staircase” impressions on the curves. I refer you to a full article on the subject .
Another interesting option in the idea of ​​improving the grip of the impression, it is the property “initial layer height”. It gives the thickness of the first layer. In general, it is thinner than the top layers to allow better grip.

Cura: Management of walls and filling


We will take a closer look at the “Shell” (above) and “Infill” (below) blocks which are quite related.

Cura: infill

In the first, you will be able to take care of the “shell”.
The “wall thickness” parameter is used to specify the thickness of the walls of the structure. This will of course have an effect on the solidity, the printing time and the consumption of filament. The “infill” part is responsible for defining the filling. At 100% the structure will be full. The values ​​below therefore give a filling that is not full, according to a structure defined by the “Infill Pattern”.

Cura: management of extrusion and platen temperatures

cura material

The “Material” block in Cura allows you to define the temperatures. You will thus be able to define the printing temperature (“Printing temperature”), as well as the temperature of the first layer. Temperature management is essential for the quality of the part. You will have to adapt depending on the filament you are using. The risks of poor temperature management are “stringing” (filaments appearing) or, conversely, under-extrusion. If you want to know more, I recommend this article on printing temperature management .
If you have a heating plate, you will also be able to adjust the temperature of the latter.
The fact of heating the plate will allow to have a better grip and to avoid in particular the phenomenon of “warping”. For PLA, the recommended extrusion temperature is between 180 and 200°C, for the plate between 50 and 60°C.

Cura: print speed management

Cura: speed management

With the “speed” block, you will be able to control the printing speed. As with most other settings, you’ll also have the option to handle the first layer differently. In general, it is advisable to print the first layer more slowly. For the rest and for consumer printers, a speed of 50mm/s is recommended. The speed will of course affect the printing time, but will also necessarily have an impact on the quality. A too fast speed will give a more sloppy result, even as for the temperature of the possible concerns of under-extrusion.

Cura: cooling and ventilation management


As seen above, the extrusion temperature is set, generally around 200°C. On the other hand, to avoid deformation of the part, and for better solidity, it is important to ventilate the material for faster drying, this is where the ventilation comes in, which you can adjust via the “cooling” pad. Again, the first layer can be managed differently, because for this one, if the ventilation is too high, it can dry too quickly and peel off. It is therefore necessary to slow down the ventilation on the first layers.

Cura: Media Management

Media Management Cura

When you launch a 3D print, you will quickly understand that at some point you will need supports for your print. The print head of a 3D printer only goes up, starting from the lower layers to the upper layers, one after the other. Since it deposits filament, and according to the law of gravity, if there is nothing underneath the material will fall. This is where supports come in. I recommend this very complete article on the management of supports in 3D printing .

Cura: helps with adhesion of parts

cura adhesion

It is in the “Build plate adhesion” box that you will be able to solve many of your problems with plate adhesion.
Indeed, you will be able to ask the slicer if you are having difficulty joining to raft, brim or skirt. The raft creates a support for your print.
The brim surrounds your print with thin layers to increase the surface in contact with the bed. The skirt allows him to purge the nozzle before printing. You can check this article for more details .

Cura: Management of positioning and size of parts

Cura size management

We have just seen a number of important elements in the management of quality profiles.
We are now going to see how to manipulate the elements to be printed to place them as desired on the board, and at the desired size. All this now takes place in the left part of the software, in the suite of icons shown above. The first step is already to open the element(s) to be printed.
To do this, you must fetch the file of the element to be printed. This can be an STL file for example, or other compatible formats. Once all the elements are on your board, we will now be able to play with their positioning and size.

Part size management

When you select an element, you will be able to increase or reduce its size to reach the size you want. Via the second icon, you will be able to give a percentage for the proportion in X, Y, and Z. The three being linked by default to avoid any distortion.

Positioning management

Cura rotation and positioning

Via the third icon, you will be able to rotate your part on the different axes. This allows for example to optimize the way the part will be printed to minimize or even avoid supports for example. Once you click, you will see the three axes materialize. It will suffice either to drag for precision, or to click on an arrow to directly perform a 90° rotation.


As you can see, there are many settings. There are still others. This is what makes it difficult at the start of the thing perhaps, but it also allows you to have complete and extensive control over the printing. As you 3D print, you will learn, you will recognize the problems encountered and you will know how to recognize them.

As a summary, here is a very synthetic table on the main parameters and on the possible side effects of values ​​that are too high or too low.

Low value High value
Layer thickness Long print time, high quality Faster print time, degraded quality
Wall thickness Short printing time, less filament consumption, less solidity Long printing time and high filament consumption, more solidity
Filling rate Short printing time, less filament consumption, less solidity Long printing time and high filament consumption, more solidity
Extrusion temperature under extrusion Appearance of filaments (stringing)
Print speed Long print time, high quality Faster print time, degraded quality, under extrusion
Ventilation Deformation, especially on thin parts Risk of lack of adhesion on the first layers

If you want to go deeper into all this, here is a link to a very comprehensive article .

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