Here at Print Your Mind 3D, we run our printers nearly every day. That means we need printers that are true workhorses. That is exactly what you will find in the Ultimaker 3. And in order for the printer to be a true workhorse, it has to have a intuitive and robust slicing software. Ultimaker has done an incredible job to constantly take user feedback to improve upon their Cura software. The latest edition of this is Cura version 2.7. Here is a list of just a few of our favorite improvements:
Print surface quality improvements
Top surface skin.You can now specify separate settings of the top-most layers of a print. Change the top surface density and specify a different layer pattern (lines, concentric or zigzag). Using a different pattern on the top surface achieves a higher quality finish.
As can be seen here, the top-most layers follow a different pattern compared to the other layers beneath.
Ironing (a.k.a. Neosanding). This function pushes the heated nozzle over printed top layers with reduced extrusion to fill in any gaps in the top surface for extra-smooth top surfaces. It can be found under the “experimental” section.
A side-by-side comparison of printed objects. The green object was printed with ironing enabled - note the lack of diagonal lines on the top surface compared to the blue object.
Support and control improvements
Cura 2.7 introduces two new features in the default profiles:Support infill layer thicknessandGradual infill. These aim to improve print duration (saving on average 20 - 30%) and reduce PVA consumption (using on average 30 - 40% less PVA). Using less PVA support material means faster dissolving time and reduced material costs.
Support infill layer thickness.Use this feature to fine tune the height-per-layer of support infill material.
Print materials such as PVA at double the normal layer height to save time, e.g. for a print with a 0.15 mm layer height, PVA can be printed with a layer height of 0.3 mm for the majority of the support infill.
Gradual support infill.Supports will print with gradually increasing density near the top and at interfaces. This is especially useful when printing with more expensive materials such as PVA, as higher density infill supporting a model’s interfaces means faster print and dissolving times. Gradual support infill is now the default option for support material.
Extruder per feature. Assign print features (walls, infill, skin, etc.) to a specific extruder. Below are some examples:
A print core with an 0.8 mm nozzle has been assigned to print infill and inner walls here, while an 0.4 mm nozzle has been assigned to print all other features. Using a larger nozzle size for infill and inner walls can significantly reduce print duration.
Assigning an extruder using a different color allows for aesthetic effects. This item is printed in red PLA, with a top surface in black PLA to give color variation.
This object is printed in black PLA, with walls printed in silver PLA to give contrast and pick out fine details.
Managing third-party plugins is now easier than ever. Download and install them using the new integrated plugin browser. Go to “Extensions > Plugin Browser > Browse plugins” to select it. All available plugins are included in one place. Simply select “Install plugin” to install a plugin of your choice, restart Cura and it will be integrated.
Plugins are installed on a remote server, so you will not need to reinstall them each time you install Cura on your computer. When an update is available for a plugin, it will be pushed to the manager where you have the choice to update it.
Note:It is still possible to install custom plugins using the same method from previous versions of Cura.
Import SOLIDWORKS files as STL.
This plugin enables SOLIDWORKS format files to be directly imported into Cura, where they are automatically converted to .STL format. This plugin can be found in the new plugin browser.
There are many more great features available with Cura version 2.7. You can view all of these in this Ultimaker blog post.
You can also find a quickstart video for getting started below: