If you have ever taken a deep look at the print settings of Cura with all the settings visible, you may have noticed that there are hundreds of parameters that affect the printing process in various ways.
On the other hand, we have to mention that some of these parameters are indeed more on the optional side, and even though they can be vital in some cases, you most likely won’t have to configure them for most of your prints.
Today, we will look at the flow rate compensation feature in Cura, a setting that you won’t regularly need to configure but one that can come in extremely handy in some specific cases where you’re experiencing issues with flow.
So, what is flow rate compensation in Cura?
Flow rate compensation is a feature in Cura that allows you to specify a value that the printer will use to move the filament by an extra amount to compensate for inconsistencies in flow rate and bring the flow to optimal levels again.
Moving forward, we will analyze the function of flow rate compensation in more detail, discuss when it’s suitable to use this function, find out how to enable it in Cura, and quickly look at the differences between flow and flow rate compensation.
What Is Flow Rate Compensation in Cura?
Even though it’s not one of the essential parameters in Cura that require configuring before every printing process, flow rate compensation serves a vital purpose in some specific cases by giving us a shortcut to fix flow-related issues.
In a nutshell, flow rate compensation is a Cura feature that gives you the option to compensate for the changes in flow rate by moving an extra amount of filament, defined by a percentage value, for each second of extrusion.
The flow rate compensation feature in Cura consists of two separate parameters, which are Flow Rate Compensation Max Extrusion Offset and Flow Rate Compensation Factor.
Flow Rate Compensation Factor
The Flow Rate Compensation Factor parameter is the heart of the flow rate compensation feature.
The flow rate compensation factor is a percentage value that the printer multiplies with its current flow rate to calculate the effective flow rate it will use for the printing process.
Just as with the flow parameter, the default for this parameter is 100%, where decreasing it below its default would reduce, and increasing it above its default would increase the amount of plastic that comes out of the extruder.
Flow Rate Compensation Max Extrusion Offset
While the Flow Rate Compensation Max Extrusion Offset parameter is not required for the flow rate compensation feature to work, it has a significant purpose.
The flow rate compensation max extrusion offset parameter allows you to set a value (denoted in millimeters) that defines the maximum amount of difference the flow rate compensation feature can cause.
For instance, let’s assume that you set the flow rate compensation factor in a way that causes the filament to move an extra 1 mm, and the flow rate compensation max extrusion offset to 0.5 mm.
In this case, as the extra movement of the filament would be exceeding the maximum of 0.5mm, the movement would be limited to 0.5 mm instead.
When to Use Flow Rate Compensation in Cura?
As flow rate compensation is a setting that should stay on its default value more often than not, knowing when to configure it is vital to obtain its benefits, especially considering that misconfiguring it can cause the failure of the printing process.
We recommend using the flow rate compensation feature when the filament flow is less than it should be, which mostly happens due to material differences.
For instance, if your 3D printer is pushing 2 millimeters of filament per second when it actually should be pushing 2.5 millimeters instead, you can use a flow rate compensation factor of 125%, which will add an extra 0.5 millimeters of movement for each second of extrusion.
This feature is useful especially for printers with flow sensors, as compensating for the flow rate with this setting instead of directly increasing the flow rate allows you to fix the flow without triggering a warning from the flow sensor.
How to Activate Flow Rate Compensation in Cura?
Since flow rate compensation is part of Cura’s standard print settings, enabling it is a pretty effortless process that isn’t different than configuring usual print settings such as bed temperature or line width.
Here is a step-by-step guide you can use to activate flow rate compensation in Cura:
- Click the Prepare tab on the top of the Cura window.
- Select the pane on the right (the one with print settings).
- Click the Custom button if you see it to switch the Print Settings to Custom Mode.
- Click the three lines icon next to the search input, and choose the All option to make advanced settings visible.
- Type “flow rate compensation” into the search input.
Following this process will allow you to modify the Flow Rate Compensation Max Extrusion Offset and Flow Rate Compensation Factor parameters, which you can use to configure the flow rate compensation feature of Cura.
To disable the flow rate compensation feature and bring the default settings back, you can input a value of 100% for the flow rate compensation factor and a value of 0.0 mm for flow rate compensation max extrusion offset.
Even though flow rate compensation is a feature that you may never have to use, knowing what it does and when to use it can offer a quick and easy way to solve issues related to flow if the occasion arises.
To quickly recap, with the flow rate compensation feature, you can specify a percentage value that Cura will use (through the Flow Rate Compensation Factor parameter) to move an extra amount of filament for each second of extrusion.
The extra amount of your specification acts as a shortcut to compensate for the instabilities in flow rate and brings the flow of filament back to optimal levels.
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.