There is no denying that Cura has established itself as the most popular slicer in the 3D printing community for a while now, offering a complete experience with its many features for obtaining high-quality prints, its clean interface that improves the user experience by a great deal, and its community that makes it easy to resolve any problems one may face.
Among everything that Cura offers, a specific feature especially stands out, which is its plugin support that practically allows Cura’s feature set to be extended unlimitedly by the members of the community, making Cura a piece of software that is ever-evolving, even when the developers aren’t actively adding new features.
In today’s article, we will be examining the Arc Welder plugin for Cura, in specific, which brings some significant functionality to 3D printer movement, and as a result, has a sizeable number of downloads on the Ultimaker Marketplace, where Cura plugins made by the community are listed.
So, what is the purpose of the Arc Welder plugin for Cura?
The Arc Welder plugin for Cura automatically combines subsequent linear moves (with extrusion <G1> or without extrusion <G0>) and converts them to arc or circle moves (clockwise <G2> or counter-clockwise <G3>) to optimize the G-code and make the curved motions much smoother for the 3D printer.
Next up, we will dive deeper into the functionality of the Arc Welder plugin for Cura, find out how to install the plugin and how to use it efficiently, and finally, discuss the scenarios where it would be appropriate to utilize this plugin to improve our 3D printing experience.
What Is the Arc Welder Plugin for Cura?
While the Arc Welder plugin is entirely optional and not a necessity to be able to use Cura by any means, it brings some significant improvements to the table regarding how your 3D printer performs specific movements during the printing process.
Arc Welder, which is a community-made plugin for Cura, aims to optimize the G-code file that Cura produces by combining linear move commands (G0 and G1) and turning them into arc move commands (G2 and G3) whenever possible, creating a more compact G-code file by reducing the total amount of commands.
The primary benefit of this conversion is to prevent the 3D printer from stuttering, which may occur due to the 3D printer reading and completing the execution of a G-code command before the following command arrives for consumption, with the issue being commonly known as the buffer underrun problem in computing.
On the other hand, it’s also worth mentioning that your 3D printer may not be able to perform as well as it has with the linear moves in the case of printing arcs due to various reasons, which can result in a drop in quality in your 3D printed models in some cases.
How to Install the Arc Welder Plugin for Cura?
Installing the Arc Welder plugin for Cura is almost a zero-effort process thanks to the Ultimaker Marketplace, which is a built-in section in Cura that allows you to directly access all the community plugins and install them with a few button clicks.
Below is a step-by-step guide you can follow to install the Arc Welder Plugin for Cura through the Ultimaker Marketplace.
- Click the Marketplace button on the top-right corner of the Cura window.
- Scroll down in the Community Plugins section to find Arc Welder, and click its icon.
- Click the corresponding Install button to start the installation process of the Arc Welder plugin.
- Accept any pop-up dialogs that appear for the installation process to continue, and wait for the installation to conclude.
- Restart Cura for the Arc Welder plugin to be loaded.
After you restart Cura, the Arc Welder plugin will be installed and ready to use. To confirm that the plugin is indeed installed, you can navigate to the Marketplace section again and inspect the Installed tab, which allows you to see all of your installed plugins.
As the Marketplace section requires you to have an Ultimaker account, you will need to create one for free if you haven’t done so before and log in to it before you can install the Arc Welder plugin to Cura.
How to Use the Arc Welder Plugin for Cura?
Just like installing it, activating and configuring the Arc Welder plugin for Cura is also very straightforward since the plugin directly integrates itself into Cura’s menus, allowing you to have access to everything in a single place.
Below are the steps you can follow to activate and use the Arc Welder plugin for Cura after you have successfully installed it:
- Navigate to the Prepare tab of Cura, located at the top of the window.
- Click the pane on the right to bring up the Print Settings dialog.
- Click the Custom button if you see it; else, skip this step.
- Click the icon next to the search input, and choose the All option from the dropdown. This process will make all configurable parameters of Cura to be become visible, including the toggle for the Arc Welder plugin.
- Type “arc welder” into the search input and press Enter.
- Check the box next to the Arc Welder label.
Following these steps will enable the Arc Welder plugin and allow the plugin to perform the optimizations it offers to your G-code file automatically, without the need for any extra steps on your part.
While it’s perfectly possible to achieve high-quality prints without utilizing any plugins in Cura, the Arc Welder plugin and many other plugins make the 3D printing experience a lot smoother with the improvements they bring to the table without requiring the user to spend any effort or time.
To quickly recap, the Arc Welder plugin’s purpose is to perform automatic optimizations to the G-code that Cura produces by finding successive linear moves (G0 or G1) and combining them into arc (G2 or G3) moves, creating a more optimized G-code file that will be easier for your 3D printer to handle.
As the Arc Welder plugin does everything automatically without the need for any extra tuning (unless you would like to perform advanced configuration), you won’t need to do anything other than installing it in Cura for the first time and enabling it through the Print Settings section.
Mike started his 3D printing journey with the Anet A8 when it first came out back in 2017, and has been obsessed with 3D printers ever since. Nowadays, he primarily uses his Ender 3 to print functional parts that make his life more convenient whenever possible.