Does Cura Have Automatic Support Generation? (How to Use It?)

Even though there is no denying that they can be indispensable at times to make printing bridges and overhangs possible, we can all agree that supports are a part of the 3D printing process that nobody likes to deal with due to the amount of extra, tedious work that it adds to obtaining the final product.

As a result, any feature that makes the process of creating, customizing, and removing supports a more tolerable and efficient operation is fantastic to have at hand, as they reduce the time that is wasted on supports in cases where they are essential for a successful print.

In today’s article, our topic will be the process of generating support structures automatically and whether it’s possible in Cura, as automatically-generated supports that are correctly placed are always welcome, leaving us one less thing to worry about among the many chores that come with having to use supports.

So, does Cura have the functionality for automatic support generation?

Cura can indeed automatically generate support structures for you and place them in the appropriate positions based on the 3D model you’re printing and the support settings that you have adjusted in the Print Settings section, removing the necessity to add supports manually.

Moving forward, we will dive deeper into the automatic support generation capabilities of Cura in more detail, find out how to use the automatic support generation feature in Cura, and finally, go through the process of troubleshooting the scenario where the automatic supports don’t show up.

Does Cura Have Automatic Support Generation?

While manually adding supports has its own benefits in some cases, it’s usually a lot more work than it’s worth, especially if your slicer is capable of generating supports automatically in an optimal manner that would do the job.

You can get Cura to create and appropriately place support structures on every area of your 3D model that requires support automatically, which, in most cases, will be good enough not to require any further manual adjustment.

The process of automatic support generation is entirely based on the support settings inputted by the user, meaning that factors such as where the support structures will be positioned, how strong they will be, how close they will be to the model, and practically anything else that comes to mind are all fully customizable.

Finally, you always have the option to see precisely how the automatically generated supports will look by slicing the model and navigating to the Preview tab, which will allow you to further fine-tune auto supports before moving forward with the printing process. 

With such functionality, it becomes possible to construct the support settings in a way that allows Cura to generate the supports exactly how you would manually generate them (there are a few exceptions, such as in cases where you would like to use different support structures for distinct areas), but without the extra work that comes with manual generation.

How to Use Automatic Support Generation in Cura?

Using the automatic support generation feature in Cura is just as straightforward as modifying any other regular print setting, making the whole process a breeze that won’t take much of your time and effort.

Below is a step-by-step guide you can follow to activate automatic support generation in Cura:

  1. Click the Prepare tab on top of the Cura window.
  2. Click the Print Settings pane (the one on the right).
  3. Click the Custom button if it’s visible. Else, skip this step.
  4. Click the “three lines” icon right next to the search input.
  5. Choose the All option from the dropdown menu to make Cura’s advanced settings visible.
  6. Type “support” into the search input and press Enter.
  7. Check the checkbox next to the Generate Support label.

Upon activating automatic support generation, you will notice that a bunch of extra parameters become visible, which allow you to configure factors such as when they should be generated, how they should be placed, how strong they should be, and more.

Cura Automatic Supports Don’t Show – What to Do?

There are situations where the Cura automatic supports don’t show up on the screen at all, and while it may seem like there is a problem with the support generation at first look, there are actually logical reasons behind the supports not being visible.

Below is a list of factors that can cause you to not see the automatic supports on your screen, which includes cases where the supports may not be generated at all:

  1. You are not in the Preview tab of Cura. While a very apparent one, ensuring that you’re in the Preview tab is sometimes easy to overlook, which will result in the 3D model itself being on the screen rather than the sliced version.
  2. You have unchecked the Helpers option in the Color Scheme dropdown menu. As the support structures fall under the Helpers umbrella, you will need to check this option for the supports to be visible. We recommend using the Line Type color scheme, which will make it the easiest to see the supports.
  3. You have chosen the Touching Buildplate option for the Support Placement option for a model that requires the supports to touch the model itself. Selecting the Touching Buildplate option will only generate support structures in areas where one end of the support structure touches the build plate, preventing the supports from appearing in models where the overhang is above another part of the model.
  4. The Support Overhang Angle value is too high. Cura will only generate supports with overhangs with a greater angle than the specified value. As a result, you will need to configure this value accordingly to your needs.

Wrapping Up

As supports becoming necessary is never fun, anything that makes the process of creating the supports a more straightforward approach, which in this case is the automatic generation of supports, is a welcome addition that improves the 3D printing experience.

Cura is fully capable of detecting the areas that require support structures for a healthy 3D printing process and automatically placing the appropriate supports in such areas when the Generate Support parameter is enabled, which you can preview before moving forward with the print.

On the other hand, please remember that the success of these automatically-generated supports (or whether they will even be generated at all) will largely be determined by the configuration you supply to Cura, as the software will only be able to do as well as the data it’s utilizing.

Happy printing!