When it comes to increasing the print quality, the majority of the effort often goes to ensuring that the model’s surface looks as good as possible with no visible errors, as the surface essentially determines how the model looks from an outside perspective once the printing process is over.
The infill, on the other hand, does not get as much attention due to it not being visible from the outside, but in reality, correctly configuring the infill settings remains one of the pillars of a successful print for both the printing process itself and the final product regardless of the purpose of your model.
Today, we will be taking a deep dive into the infill patterns that you can find in Cura, as we believe that infill pattern selection is one of the most significant decisions you have to make while configuring the infill to ensure that your model can fulfill its duty and that valuable print time and material aren’t wasted.
So, which infill patterns are available for selection in Cura?
Below, we have listed the infill patterns that are available for usage in Cura:
- Cubic Subdivision
- Quarter Cubic
- Zig Zag
- Cross 3D
Moving forward, we will be analyzing the infill patterns you can find in Cura in greater detail, discuss how to make the correct infill pattern choice depending on the scenario, go through the process of modifying the infill pattern, and finally, find out which are the strongest and fastest infill patterns in Cura.
Which Infill Patterns Does Cura Offer?
The number of available infill patterns that a slicer software offers is, without a doubt, one of the critical factors to keep in mind when choosing the slicer you will be using, as each infill pattern provides a distinct set of characteristics that affect the print in different ways.
Below, you can find sub-sections for every infill pattern you can find in Cura, alongside their detailed descriptions that include their strengths and weaknesses.
The Grid infill pattern consists of perpendicular lines throughout the layers, forming a pattern of squares that gives the name “Grid” to this pattern.
Out of all the infill patterns, the Grid infill pattern provides the highest level of strength in the vertical direction while also delivering a considerable level of robustness in the direction the lines are pointing.
The weakness of the Grid infill pattern is its incapability to provide the same degree of strength diagonally, which causes the model to have weak points that may not make it suitable for particular use cases where strength in all directions is required.
In terms of aesthetics, as the Grid infill pattern can support the top surface of your 3D printed model very well, the top surface will look remarkably smooth.
With these qualities, the Grid infill pattern is considered to be a Strong 2D infill that is suitable for standard prints where a balance between print time, material usage, and strength is required, with vertical strength being the emphasis.
The Lines infill pattern consists of parallel lines perpendicularly alternating in direction after each layer by default (can be modified with the Infill Line Directions pattern), which makes it look like the Grid pattern at first glance.
Compared to all other choices, the Lines infill pattern is the weakest one, as the infill layers barely bond with each other due to the direction of the lines alternating after each layer.
While the Lines infill pattern is even weaker horizontally than it is vertically (except in the direction that the lines are pointing towards), it’s not a suitable infill pattern to sustain either horizontal or vertical forces.
As this infill pattern is designed purely with print speed and low material usage in mind, it should, in most cases, provide the shortest print times and model weight compared to all the others.
With these qualities, the Lines infill pattern is considered to be a Weak 2D infill that is suitable for purely aesthetical prints where the strength of the model is not a factor to consider at all and using as little material and as little time to complete the infill would be the optimal choice.
The Triangles infill pattern consists of three separate lines that are set in different directions, which, when merged, create a pattern of triangles, which is the origin of the name “Triangles.”
With the Triangles infill pattern, it’s possible to achieve a level of strength that is reasonably high in all horizontal directions, which renders your 3D printed model quite resistant to any force that comes horizontally.
On the other hand, the drawback of the Triangles pattern is the fact that the extrusion of the infill can get interrupted where the lines cross, which can reduce the strength of the infill in cases where high infill densities are employed.
Aesthetically speaking, as printing the Triangles infill pattern requires long bridges for the top lines, an increased amount of top skin layers are needed for your 3D printed model to have an even top surface that looks aesthetically pleasing.
With these qualities, the Triangles infill pattern, similar to the Grid pattern, is considered to be a Strong 2D infill that is suitable for standard prints where a balance between print time, material usage, and strength from all horizontal directions are required.
The Tri-hexagon infill pattern also consists of three separate lines, similar to the Triangles pattern, but instead, the lines are positioned in a way that prevents them from intersecting in the same position.
With the Tri-Hexagon infill pattern, the strengths remain the same as the Triangles infill pattern, with it being possible to achieve a level of strength that is reasonably high in every horizontal direction.
Additionally, the Tri-Hexagon infill pattern essentially provides the highest amount of strength for the horizontal direction.
What’s even better is the fact that the Tri-Hexagon infill pattern does not have the drawback that comes with the Triangles pattern, as the positioning of the lines being designed in a way where they don’t intersect at the same position eliminates the interruption of flow.
Aesthetically, the Tri-Hexagon infill pattern suffers from the same issue as the Triangles pattern, with the top lines requiring long bridges to construct, creating the necessity for additional top skin layers for an even top surface.
With these qualities, the Tri-Hexagon infill pattern, similar to the Triangles pattern, is considered to be a Strong 2D infill that is suitable for standard prints where a balance between print time, material usage, and strength from the horizontal directions are required.
The Cubic infill pattern is the first 3D pattern on our list, unlike the 2D infill patterns we have looked at so far, and as apparent from the name, it consists of cubes.
With the Cubic infill pattern, an equal and high degree of strength can be achieved in every single direction, which makes the 3D printed model resistant to all forces, regardless of which direction they are coming from.
Aesthetically, the Cubic infill pattern is capable of creating an even top surface, meaning that you won’t need to use an increased amount of top skin layers to hide the imperfections of the infill.
With these qualities, we can consider the Cubic infill pattern to be a Strong 3D infill that is especially suitable for functional parts where strength, especially one that is equally distributed throughout the object, has more importance than factors such as print time and material usage.
The Cubic Subdivision infill pattern also consists of cubes, similar to the Cubic pattern, but instead, the cubes start small at the edges and get larger as they come closer to the inside of the 3D printed model.
Technically speaking, the Cubic Subdivision offers the same level of strength as the Cubic infill pattern but in an amplified manner as it uses less material in comparison, which also makes it the infill pattern capable of providing the best strength-to-weight (and print time) value among all the options.
On the other hand, one slight drawback of the Cubic Subdivision infill pattern is the fact that it requires retractions, which can prove to be problematic with filaments that don’t react well to frequent retractions, such as TPU (Flexible) filament.
Aesthetically, the Cubic Subdivision infill pattern is also capable of creating an even top surface like the Cubic infill pattern, which removes the necessity to use too many top surface skin layers.
For best results, you should use the Cubic Subdivision infill pattern with high infill density values, as the nature of the pattern can cause the effective infill density to be less than intended.
With these qualities, we can consider the Cubic Subdivision infill pattern to be a Strong 3D infill that is especially suitable for functional parts that require equally distributed, high-degree strength, and a high strength-to-weight ratio.
The Octet infill pattern consists of a combination of cubes and triangular pyramids (tetrahedrons) that create a three-dimensional shape.
The primary purpose of the Octet infill pattern is to provide a high degree of strength in all directions for models that are of medium thickness (~1cm).
As the top lines require long bridges, similar to the Triangles and the Tri-Hexagon patterns, the aesthetical quality of the top skin is reduced when the Octet infill pattern is employed.
With these qualities, we can consider the Octet infill pattern to be a Strong 3D infill that is especially suitable for functional parts that are around a centimeter in thickness.
The Quarter Cubic infill pattern consists of triangular pyramids and trimmed versions of triangular pyramids that create a three-dimensional shape, which makes it pretty similar to the Octet infill pattern.
The primary purpose of the Quarter Cubic infill pattern is to provide a high degree of strength in all directions for models that are of low thickness (a few millimeters).
As the top lines require long bridges, similar to the Triangles, Tri-Hexagon, and Octet patterns, the aesthetical quality of the top skin is reduced when the Quarter Cubic infill pattern is utilized.
With these qualities, we can consider the Quarter Cubic infill pattern to be a Strong 3D infill that is especially suitable for functional parts that are around a few centimeters in thickness.
The Concentric infill pattern consists of a series of rings with spaces in between them that start at the center of the 3D printed model and grow outwards, all the way until they reach the walls.
Producing flexible prints is the primary purpose of the Concentric infill pattern, with the strength of the infill being quite weak (in fact, the weakest among all infill patterns) and evenly distributed for all of the horizontal directions.
While the vertical strength of the Concentric infill pattern is better than its horizontal strength, it’s not an infill pattern that is designed for strength by any means.
Compared to other flexible infill patterns, such as Cross and Cross 3D, the Concentric infill pattern uses much less time to print, which is something to keep in mind when printing a flexible model.
A fun fact is that Concentric becomes the overall strongest infill pattern when a 100% infill density is utilized, even though anything less than this will cause it to be the weakest infill pattern horizontally.
As the Concentric infill pattern is purely designed with flexible objects in mind, it’s classified to be a Flexible 3D infill pattern and, therefore, not very useful for any 3D printed models that aren’t printed with flexible filament.
The Zig Zag infill pattern consists of lines drawn in a zig-zag shape, creating a similar formation to the Lines pattern, with the exception being that each layer essentially has a single continuous line instead of individually extruded lines.
Technically speaking, the Zig Zag infill pattern is identical to the Lines pattern in terms of strengths and weaknesses, making it the joint weakest infill pattern available in Cura.
To recap what we have discussed in the Lines section, we can say that the Zig Zag pattern is extremely weak in the horizontal direction (except for the direction that the lines are pointing towards) and relatively weak in the vertical direction.
Aesthetically, the Zig Zag infill pattern provides the smoothest top surface, and in terms of material and time spent, it offers one of the lowest print times and model weights.
A fun fact is that the Zig Zag infill pattern becomes the second-strongest infill pattern available when an infill density of 100% is utilized, similar to the Concentric infill pattern, which becomes the strongest in such a scenario.
While the Zig Zag infill pattern doesn’t particularly fall into any categories like most of the other options, we can leave it at the fact that it’s an unsuitable infill pattern for functionally printed parts and that it will work best for decorative 3D printed models, where low weights and quick print times are favored.
The Cross infill pattern consists of crosses with spaces in between, giving the 3D printed model a flexible nature.
The purpose of the Cross infill pattern is to produce flexible prints, similar to the Concentric infill pattern, with the strength of the infill being very weak in the horizontal directions and relatively weak in the vertical directions.
On the other hand, the weakness in the horizontal directions, which is intended, allows the flexible model to be evenly soft and squishy and fulfill its purpose in cases where such attributes are required.
Due to the Cross pattern being fairly complex, it usually takes a longer amount of time to slice than most other infill patterns and takes longer to print than the other flexible infill pattern alternative, Concentric.
On the flip side, when it comes to the amount of material used to print the infill, the Cross infill pattern uses much less plastic than the Concentric infill pattern, creating a trade-off situation between the flexible infill patterns.
Finally, as the Cross infill pattern requires no retractions to print, it’s a great choice if you’re having retraction-related issues while printing with flexible filament, which usually doesn’t work well when a lot of retraction is involved.
As the Cross infill pattern, similar to the Concentric infill pattern, is purely designed with flexible objects in mind, it’s classified to be a Flexible 3D infill pattern and, therefore, not very useful for any 3D printed models that aren’t printed with flexible filament.
The Cross 3D infill pattern is a variant of the Cross infill pattern that further increases the flexibility by extending the pattern along the Z-axis.
As the Cross 3D infill pattern is a direct variant of the Cross infill pattern, everything that applies to the Cross pattern automatically applies to the Cross pattern regarding weaknesses, strengths, print time, material usage, and more.
On the other hand, the difference between the Cross 3D and the Cross patterns is that the Cross 3D pattern is extremely weak and hence soft and squishy in all directions, as opposed to the Cross pattern, which has some degree of strength on the vertical direction.
Since the Cross 3D infill pattern, which is practically identical to the Cross pattern, is also purely designed with flexible objects in mind, it’s also classified to be a Flexible 3D infill pattern.
The Gyroid infill pattern is based on the gyroid surface, which can best be explained as a pattern that consists of waves.
Utilizing the Gyroid infill pattern allows your 3D printed model to have a high level of strength in all directions and a very high strength-to-weight ratio, only second to the Cubic Subdivision infill pattern.
On the other hand, as the Gyroid infill pattern doesn’t create a structure that is as stiff as the Cubic Subdivision infill pattern, it’s possible to use it for flexible materials that should have some level of flex but not squish as easily as one that is printed with the Concentric or the Cross infill patterns.
Similar to the Cross and the Cross 3D patterns, the Gyroid pattern is also more complex to construct than the rest, drastically increasing slice and print times and making the printing process more challenging for the 3D printer.
Since the Gyroid infill is constructed with strength and some flexibility in mind, it’s most suitable for functional prints, whether flexible or non-flexible, that need to be capable of resisting tension from all directions.
The Lightning infill pattern consists of lightning bolt shapes that build up from the sides of the 3D printed model.
As the Lightning infill pattern does not provide any strength to the 3D printed model other than supporting the top surface, we can comfortably say that it’s a choice that is only suitable for models that have purely aesthetical purposes.
Aesthetically speaking, the Lightning infill pattern produces the best-looking walls due to there not being any infill around them and the best-looking top surfaces due to how it’s structured.
Considering that the Lightning infill pattern barely requires any time and material compared to any other infill pattern and that it produces the best possible top surface quality when the infill density is as high as possible, high infill densities are usually the way to go with the Lightning infill pattern for best results.
As the Lightning infill pattern is unique, it doesn’t fall into any categories in particular, but considering its strengths and weaknesses, it’s definitely not a suitable option for 3D printed models that will be under any physical tension.
How to Choose the Optimal Cura Infill Pattern?
Infill pattern selection can make or break a print in various ways, whether it’s determining the amount of time and material that goes into a print or how durable the 3D printed model becomes.
When choosing the optimal Cura infill pattern for the purposes of your 3D printed model, the main factor that is at play is strength, followed by aesthetics, print time, and the amount of material used to generate the infill, with each infill pattern offering a unique trade-off between these factors.
To choose the optimal Cura infill pattern, the first step we recommend taking is to determine the strength requirement of your 3D printed model, both from the perspectives of intensity and direction, which will allow you to narrow the infill patterns down heavily.
For instance, if your 3D printed model will only be exposed to forces from the vertical direction, and resistance to forces from other directions won’t be needed, the best option would be the Grid pattern, as it provides the best vertical strength.
Afterward, it’s time to put the aesthetical requirements of your model into consideration and pick the infill pattern that would work out the best aesthetically, further narrowing the possible infill patterns down.
For instance, if you would prefer your 3D printed model’s top surface not to be too thick but still be even, it would be best to refrain from infill patterns such as Triangle and Tri-Hexagon, as they require many top skin layers for an even top surface.
Finally, the last factors to put into consideration are print time and the amount of material spent on the infill (which also determines the weight of the model, a factor that you may need to think about in some cases).
For instance, if you would like to achieve maximum strength while keeping your 3D printed model as light as possible, you would go with an infill pattern such as Cubic Subdivision, as it offers the best strength to material/print time value.
On the other hand, for the maximum strength possible without any consideration for print time and material usage, going for the Concentric infill pattern with a 100% infill density would be your best bet, but as you may expect, it would take much more material and time.
How to Modify the Infill Pattern in Cura?
Infill pattern modification in Cura is no challenging task, as it’s essentially the same process as modifying any other parameter that you can find in Cura’s print settings.
Below is a step-by-step guide you can follow to quickly modify the infill pattern in Cura and switch to the infill pattern you would like to utilize:
- Click the Prepare tab on the top of the Cura window.
- Click the pane on the right to bring up the Print Settings dialog.
- Click the Custom button if it’s visible. Else, skip this step.
- Click the “three lines” icon next to the search input, and choose All.
- Type “infill” into the search input, and press Enter.
- Click the dropdown menu next to the Infill Pattern entry, and choose the infill pattern you would like to activate.
What Is the Strongest Infill Pattern in Cura?
A strong infill pattern is vital for models that you are planning to print with the purpose of exposing them to physical forces, as an incorrect infill pattern selection will drastically compromise the model’s durability regardless of the infill density you use.
Technically speaking, the strongest infill pattern in Cura is Concentric, but the fact that it requires 100% infill density to create a strong structure, with anything less causing it to provide no horizontal strength at all, makes this strength far from practical.
On the other hand, when talking practically, it’s not entirely possible to say that one infill pattern, in particular, is the strongest, as it’s possible for each infill pattern to be strong in a specific way.
Below, we have listed some of the strongest infill patterns with explanations that clarify their strengths:
- Cubic Subdivision – Provides the best strength-to-weight and strength-to-print time ratios while granting the 3D printed model a considerable amount of strength in every direction.
- Gyroid – Provides a considerable amount of strength in every direction without being too stiff, which makes it very useful for flexible parts that need to retain a high degree of robustness.
- Grid – Provides the highest amount of strength in the vertical direction.
- Tri-Hexagon – Provides the highest amount of strength in the horizontal direction.
As the effective strength of the infill pattern largely relies on factors such as the infill density and the directions that the forces are coming in from, we highly recommend picking the one that would work the best in your particular scenario rather than going for the outright strongest infill pattern.
What Is the Fastest Infill Pattern in Cura?
To always be on the lookout to conserve as much time (and material at the same time) as possible is an excellent mindset to have in 3D printing, as models that you are only printing for decorative purposes won’t really need an infill pattern that requires a lot of time and material to print.
While the exact print times can vary on a case-by-case basis, our tests have shown us that the Zig Zag, Grid, Lines, and Concentric (primarily suitable for flexible prints) infill patterns produce the lowest print times in most cases.
As the Lines infill pattern is specifically designed to be quick (but also weak at the same time), you can’t really go wrong with it if strength is not a concern, and pure print speed is what you need.
On the other hand, in most cases, especially for smaller prints, the print times shouldn’t vary way too much unless you decide to go with one of the infill patterns that are a lot more complex than the rest, such as Gyroid or Cross, meaning that you can feel free to pick the one that you think will be most suitable without worrying too much about time.
There is definitely no scarcity in Cura’s infill pattern selection, with it being possible to find an optimal infill pattern for every scenario you may face on your 3D printing journey.
To quickly recap, the infill patterns you can find in Cura and utilize in your 3D prints are Grid, Lines, Triangles, Tri-Hexagon, Cubic, Cubic Subdivision, Octet, Quarter Cubic, Concentric, Zig Zag, Cross, Cross 3D, Gyroid, and Lightning.
As each of these infill patterns you can find in Cura is entirely unique and brings a different set of strengths and weaknesses to the table, it’s vital to make the correct choice to ensure that the printing process is conducted without any waste of time and material and the final product is manufactured optimally for its purpose.
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.