1. Layer Height
Layer height is essentially the resolution of your print. Prints that have a thinner layer height will create a more detailed print with smoother finishes. However, the downside to having thinner layers is that it increases the duration of the print, due to the fact that there will be more layers that make up your object. If your print does not require much detail a thicker layer height is more suitable.
The slight disadvantage of using a thicker layer height is the result of a print with with less detail and a rougher surface. Low resolution printing is ideal for things like prototyping where details aren’t that necessary. For printing items with intricate details some people have suggested using the following to measure your layer height:
.4mm nozzle fine = .1mm average=.2mm rough=.34mm
.35mm nozzle fine= ,1mm avg = .2mm rough = .3mm
2. Fill Density
Infill is the thickness of the space inside the outer shell of an object. This is measured in percentage rather than mm like the layer height. Objects printed with 100% infill will be completely solid on the inside. Rule of thumb, the higher the infill percentage the stronger and heavier the object will be, the more filament it will take and the longer the print duration. Keep in mind that printing with 100% infill always can get costly with having to restock up on filaments so it is advised to only use 100% infill for needed prints. It is important to know what you will be using the prints for. If the object is going to be used for display then a 10-20% infill is recommended, for something with more functionality and sturdiness 75-100% infill is most recommended.
Shell thickness and infill density go hand in hand. Essentially, shells are the number of times the outer walls of the design is traced by the 3D printer before starting the deep inner sections of your design. This is one of the biggest factors in the strength of your print. Cura automatically set this feature to .8. If the print needs more durability increasing the shell thickness will be ideal.
The speed of the print is dependent on a few contributing factors. Such as the filament type, type of printer you’re using & layer height. In a nut shell print speed is the speed in which the extruder travels as its laying down the filament. Its best to not rush your print speed as it could result in complications (such as skipping) and messy looking prints. Another rule of thumb is that the more complicated the print is using a slower speed will result in a higher quality print. Cura recommends is 50mm/s but you can play around with the speed to get the setting that works best with you 3D printer. You can also play around with speed and see what works best for your printer.
Supports are removable structures that help hold up 3D objects that don’t have enough base material. In order to determine whether or not your print needs supports take a look at Joe Larson’s Rule:
- Anything that resembles a “Y” shape is safe to print without support due to it’s gradual slop. The “Y” shape has enough material beneath it to keep it from flopping over. Another rule to apply is the 45 Degree Rule, which states that in general, overhangs with a slope greater than 45 degrees will require supports
- Any type 3D print that has a bridge should have supports. These are usually designs that take the “H” form where the middle overhang is connected to either side.
- Anything shaped like a “T” will have overhang and therefore need supports to avoid drooping.
In Cura’s drop down menu, there are two types of supports you can choose from:
- Touching Build Plate– this is for designs where the section of the design that needs the support can be attached to the build plate like this:
- Everywhere– For more complex designs supports would be needed to ensure there aren’t many overhangs and that the print is done accurately.