We can all accept that 3D printing is a process that requires a lot of fine-tuning to get right, with many parameters to configure depending on factors like the filament material, the size and shape of the object, and many more.
While it’s pretty challenging to configure everything correctly in all scenarios, slicer software is evolving every day and introducing experimental features to make these things easier for the user, allowing us to achieve a higher quality of print with less effort.
Our topic today will be one of these experimental features in Cura, known as bridge settings.
So, what are bridge settings in Cura?
Bridge settings is an experimental feature you can enable in Cura to input custom values for factors such as fan speed, print speed, flow rate, and more; that will only be in effect during the printing of bridge components.
Next up, we will be taking a deeper look into how the bridge settings feature in Cura functions and how you can configure its parameters correctly to achieve the best results possible.
What Are Cura Bridge Settings?
Enabling bridge settings is a fantastic option to optimize bridges in Cura as much as possible and ensure that your bridges turn out to be high quality.
Activating bridge settings in Cura allows you to specify custom values for various settings that the slicer will only apply while your 3D printer is printing a bridge, allowing you to have a higher level of control over your print.
Due to being an experimental feature, bridge settings will only be active if you explicitly enable them. As it’s possible to toggle all the settings on and off with the click of a button, you won’t have to worry about it affecting your general configuration.
To enable bridge settings in Cura, type “bridge settings” in the search box of the Print settings menu – and check the Enable Bridge Settings checkbox.
Doing so will cause the slicer to display additional inputs, which are all part of the experimental bridge settings.
Let’s take a quick look at these additional inputs and what they do:
- Minimum Bridge Wall Length (mm) – This value specifies the minimum bridge length where the slicer will apply the specific bridge settings. The slicer will use the standard settings for bridges that are shorter than this value.
- Bridge Skin Support Threshold (%) – The minimum skin support percentage for the slicer to apply bridge settings. If the support area for the skin region is lesser than this value, the slicer will use standard settings.
- Bridge Wall Coasting (%) – The coasting distance the extruder will use before starting to print a bridge wall.
- Bridge Wall Speed (mm/s) – The speed the printer will use for printing bridge walls.
- Bridge Wall Flow (%) – The flow rate the printer will use for printing bridge walls.
- Bridge Skin Speed (mm/s) – The speed the printer will use for printing bridge skins.
- Bridge Skin Flow (%) – The flow rate that the printer uses for the skin regions of bridges.
- Bridge Skin Density (%) – The density of the skin layers of the bridges you will be printing.
- Bridge Fan Speed (%) – The fan speed that the printer uses while it prints bridge skins and walls.
- Bridge Has Multiple Layers – Enabling this option creates additional inputs for second and third skin speed, flow, density, and fan speed, allowing you to use different parameters for the second and third layers of the bridge.
How to Configure Cura Bridge Settings?
Configuring bridge settings in Cura is not the easiest task as it requires a great deal of experimentation depending on factors such as filament material, nozzle size, and layer height.
As we can’t tell you the settings that will magically work in every situation, the best we can do is to tell you whether you should increase or decrease a value depending on the signs you’re facing.
- Bridge Wall Coasting – Increasing coasting decreases stringing, whereas decreasing it reduces the possibility of gaps. We recommend adjusting this value in increments of 1% and experimenting with test prints.
- Bridge Wall/Skin Speed – Lowering the print speed is often the best course of action for bridging. Speeds that are too high often cause poor adhesion, resulting in the bridge becoming way too weak and collapsing. We recommend adjusting these values in increments of 0.1 mm/s.
- Bridge Wall/Skin Flow – Decreasing the flow rate reduces the chance of drooping, whereas increasing it helps combat issues caused by under-extrusion, such as the bridge being too thin and weak. We recommend adjusting these values in increments of 1%.
- Bridge Skin Density – Increasing the density makes the bridge stronger, whereas reducing it reduces the chance of drooping. We recommend adjusting this value in increments of 1%.
- Bridge Fan Speed – Increasing the fan speed can reduce adhesion and cause your bridge to be weak, whereas decreasing it may cause drooping due to filament not drying quickly enough. We recommend adjusting this value in increments of 5%.
Alternative Ways of Improving Bridging in Cura
Ways of improving bridging is always a hot topic in the 3D printing community, as bridges are never easy to get entirely correct, with common issues such as drooping or weak adhesion plaguing them.
If the bridge settings feature did not help, here are some alternative ways of improving bridging in Cura:
- Reduce bridging by rotating the model whenever possible. Minimizing the bridging of your model by rotating it is one of the easiest ways to improve bridging that we often overlook.
- Fine-tune values such as print speed, temperature, cooling, extrusion specifically for bridges. Settings related to temperature, print speed, cooling, and extrusion play a significant role in how your bridges turn out and usually require specific optimization.
- Add support structures to the bridges. When all else fails, adding support structures is a surefire way of improving your bridges, as these structures provide the necessary support bridges require to stay upright and print similarly to any other component.
Enabling the experimental bridge settings feature in Cura is definitely worth a shot if you are having trouble with the bridges on your models and can magically make your bridge-related problems disappear.
As achieving a high-quality print is all about fine-tuning, the ability to configure values such as fan speed, coasting, and flow specifically for the parts of a bridge comes in extremely handy, especially considering that bridges are usually challenging components to get right.
That being said, as bridge settings are an experimental feature, there is always the chance of it causing even more issues, which is why we highly recommend conducting your own experiments with such features.
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.