Cura 5.0 Gets the Details Right

Ultimaker Cura 5.0 slicing software makes it easier to 3D print parts with fine details.

Ultimaker Cura 5.0 slicing software makes it easier to 3D print parts with fine details.

Ultimaker Cura 5.0 includes an enhanced slicing engine that enhances the ability to print thin walls and fine details. Image Courtesy of Ultimaker

3D printing continues to advance and gain traction, yet there are hurdles to mainstream adoption—a big one being the need to modify designs to make 3D printing work, often sacrificing features as well as the original design intent.

Ultimaker’s Cura free and open source slicing software has been in the forefront of helping users realize better prints. The latest Cura 5.0 version, released into beta test, builds on this foundation with a new and improved slicing engine designed to turn out parts with finer details and to ensure more accurate and stronger prints, officials say.

The new slicing engine raises the bar for creating finer and faster 3D prints through a variable line width capability that enables output of parts with thin walls and fine details. Previous versions required sliced files to utilize consistent line widths, the exact width depending on the nozzle diameter and line width settings used. As a result, if part of the print called for dimensions that were two-and-a-half lines thick, Ultimaker Cura would generate two lines and leave a small gap in between, which resulted in small gaps in the final part. In cases where the details were less than one line thick, parts could not be printed at all.

The new slicing engine enables line widths to be dynamically adjusted during the print process, ensuring fewer gaps between lines, more efficient toolpaths, and greater accuracy when printing walls and fine details. The result of this auto scaling, officials say, is stronger and more attractive parts—a solution for one of the most common shortfalls of Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D printing.

“Ultimaker Cura 5.0 represents the biggest leap forward in print quality that the software has ever seen,” said Miguel Calvo, Ultimaker’s chief technology officer in prepared remarks. “Until now, you had to make your design work for 3D printing. It’s time to turn the table … from designing for 3D printing for 3D printing for design.”

The ability to calibrate printers to output thin walls enables designers and engineers to create more dimensionally precise objects and generate better surface finishes. In addition, improved printing of thin walls brings parts printed using Ultimaker Cura 5.0 closer to the strength and quality of parts produced using injection molding, officials claim.

Other improvements of the latest Cura release include faster print profiles for owners of Ultimaker printers, support for Apple M1 chips, an improved user interface, and streamlined integration with Ultimaker Marketplace.

To get the full details at the Ultimaker Cura 5.0 launch event, check out this video.

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Beth Stackpole's avatar
Beth Stackpole

Beth Stackpole is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to [email protected].

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