If you’re using Cura for the first time, you will notice that the parameters you can modify are pretty limited, with Cura only showing you the parameters that you will need to correctly configure for the printing process to become a success, with many sub-sections, such as Special Modes or Experimental being completely invisible.
On the other hand, while they are not entirely necessary for a successful print and have the capability to potentially cause your prints to fail, getting yourself accustomed to the experimental features is something we highly recommend, as they will be beneficial in many scenarios where you’re looking to find a fix to a particular problem.
In today’s article, we will be talking about one such feature of Cura that falls under the experimental umbrella, known as the draft shield, which we think is one of the most inventive features that you can find in Cura as it aims to solve a prevalent problem in 3D printing in a very creative way.
So, what is the draft shield feature in Cura?
The draft shield feature in Cura prompts the 3D printer to print a wall that surrounds the model’s area before printing the model itself, which protects the object from drafts that can cause rapid temperature changes and lead to issues such as warping.
Moving forward, we will take a more detailed look at the draft shield feature in Cura, find out how to activate the draft shield feature, and finally, discuss the scenarios where it would be suitable to utilize the draft shield.
What Is the Draft Shield Feature in Cura?
The draft shield is one of the more innovative features that you can find in Cura and can bring significant benefits to the printing process when used correctly, allowing you to combat one of the most problematic occasions that can arise during the printing process, especially with certain types of filament.
The problematic occasions we are talking about in this case are drafts, which are highly capable of disrupting the 3D printing process due to how quickly they can change the temperature of the air in the room and how sensitive the thermoplastics are to sudden and unexpected shifts in temperature.
While not the only reason, as many other factors can cause temperature inconsistencies, drafts are a common culprit behind many 3D printing problems, with warping, poor bed adhesion, and poor layer adhesion, to name a few, which essentially are all products of the plastic cooling down quicker than optimal.
This is where Cura’s draft shield feature comes in, which practically aims to protect the 3D printed model as much as possible from any potential drafts by enveloping the print area with a wall made out of plastic before printing the model, preventing the drafts from hitting the model from the sides.
While the draft shield cannot create a perfect seal, with the top remaining open, unlike an enclosure that cuts off all external air, it does a fantastic job protecting the model from the adverse effects of drafts, especially the bottom layers, where issues such as warping and poor bed adhesion are highly likely to occur.
How to Activate the Draft Shield Feature in Cura?
The process of activating the draft shield feature in Cura follows the same formula as activating any other experimental feature or configuring any other print setting, meaning that you can add it to your print in a matter of seconds.
Below is a step-by-step guide you can use to activate the draft shield feature in Cura:
- Navigate to the Prepare tab in Cura.
- Click the pane on the right to make Print Settings visible.
- Click the Custom button if available; else, skip this step.
- Click the “three lines” icon next to the search input, and choose All from the dropdown.
- Type “draft shield” into the search input, and press Enter.
- Check the box next to the Enable Draft Shield entry.
After activating the draft shield feature, three draft shield-related parameters that allow you to customize the draft shield will show up, which we have listed below:
- Draft Shield X/Y Distance – Determines how far away the draft shield will be positioned from the model. While getting the draft shield closer to the model will increase protection against drafts, it can also block the air that comes from the cooling fans from reaching. We recommend starting with the default value of 10 millimeters and adjusting from there.
- Draft Shield Limitation – Determines whether the draft shield will be printed at a full height or a limited height. We recommend using the Limited option if you’re only having issues with the first few layers and the Full option if the drafts affect the entire model.
- Draft Shield Height – When the Draft Shield Limitation is set to Limited, you will be able to customize the height of the draft shield with this parameter as a result. Using a height of 10 mm should protect the first few layers in this case.
Please note that the draft shield can never be higher than the model’s height, meaning that choosing Limited and inputting a value that exceeds the model’s height won’t have any effect.
When to Utilize the Draft Shield Feature in Cura?
As the draft shield feature in Cura is an experimental one that you will only need to use in specific cases, having a good understanding of when it would be suitable to activate the feature is vital to get the maximum benefit out of it.
Since enabling the draft shield feature in Cura causes the 3D printer to spend extra time and material to build the wall around the print and can interfere with the cooling supplied by the fans when misconfigured, we only recommend utilizing it when printing in areas that are prone to drafts.
While our primary recommendations to combat the adverse effects caused by drafts would be to eliminate the source of the drafts whenever possible or to invest in an enclosure if the drafts are consistent with no solution, the draft shield will definitely come in handy to solve the problem at hand for the time being.
While you may not find yourself using it frequently due to its experimental nature and particular use cases, the draft shield feature of Cura is definitely handy to have at hand, especially considering the benefits it can bring to the print when used correctly.
To quickly recap, Cura’s draft shield feature offers a quick and easy way to reduce the adverse effects that drafts can have on your 3D printed model, such as poor bed adhesion, by encompassing the area where the model will reside with a wall made out of plastic prior to printing the model.
Even though it’s not an exact replacement for an enclosure, which entirely closes off the print area from any external air, Cura’s draft shield can considerably increase the quality of your prints and is definitely worth a try if your 3D printed models are suffering from draft-related issues, especially considering that it’s entirely automated.