The possibility of using different materials that come with qualities is one of the most significant factors that make 3D printing so powerful, increasing the areas of application by a large margin and allowing us to print everything from purely cosmetic items to highly functional objects.
On the other hand, as the optimal slicer configuration can highly vary among distinct materials, the process of switching back and forth between materials can become a chore due to the number of configuration modifications that you will need to perform.
Today, we will be analyzing one of the features in Cura that bring an impressive level of convenience to frequently printing with different materials by reducing the time you have to spend on configuration, known as material profiles.
So, what are material profiles in Cura?
The material profiles feature in Cura allows you to add custom materials and their properties, such as the filament diameter, the optimal nozzle temperature, and many more, to Cura, which you can later activate to load the properties that are associated with that material.
Moving forward, we will analyze the material profiles feature of Cura in more detail, find out how to use this feature to make the printing process more straightforward, and lay the steps out for adding custom materials for later usage.
Table of Contents
What Are Material Profiles in Cura?
The material profiles feature in Cura is one of the qualities the slicer brings to the table to make the printing process a lot more convenient, especially for enthusiasts who regularly switch between different types and brands of filament.
In a nutshell, the material profiles feature in Cura allows you to choose a specific material (and brand) before the printing process and activates the saved configuration for it, which includes the parameters of:
- Filament density
- Filament diameter
- Printing temperature
- Bed temperature
- Standby temperature
- Retraction distance
- Retraction speed
- Fan speed
This way, instead of requiring to re-do the material-specific configuration whenever you need to switch filaments, you can activate the associated material profile with the click of a button, and the settings will be ready to go.
An example would be a case where you switch between two different brands of PETG, where one manufacturer recommends a nozzle temperature of 230 degrees Celsius, and the other states 240 degrees Celsius instead.
With material profiles, you can create two separate profiles for each of these filaments and configure one to use a nozzle temperature of 230°C, and the other to use a nozzle temperature of 240°C.
Whenever you switch between these two filaments, you can quickly activate the relevant material profile without worrying about getting the configuration correct.
How to Use Material Profiles in Cura?
With its easy-to-use interface, utilizing the material profiles feature in Cura is pretty simple, especially for the amount of convenience it brings to the printing process.
Here is a step-by-step guide you can follow to use the material profiles feature in Cura:
- Click the Navigate tab on the top part of the Cura window.
- Click the middle pane right below, where you can see information about the current material and nozzle size.
- Click the material dropdown, which should bring up a menu with all the material presets that Cura already has.
If you are able to find the filament brand you’re using in this list – you can hover over the brand name and activate the appropriate filament type, which will load the settings that Cura has for that specific filament.
On the other hand, if the brand of the filament you use doesn’t exist in the material dropdown, you can either choose a filament type from the Generic option or add a custom filament type by inputting the properties of your filament into Cura.
Upon success, the text on the middle pane should change and display the name of the material you have selected, indicating that the material profile is active.
How to Add Materials to Cura?
Perhaps the best part of the material profiles feature is the ability to add custom materials to Cura, allowing you to save the properties of any filament you own as a preset for later usage.
Here is a step-by-step guide that explains how you can add custom materials to Cura, which you can later activate as material profiles:
- Click the Navigate tab on the top part of the Cura window.
- Click the middle pane right below, where you can see info about the current material and nozzle size.
- Click the Manage Materials option in the dropdown menu.
- Select the Generic material profile for the filament type you will add (for instance, choose Generic PETG to add a custom PETG profile) and hit the Duplicate button.
- Select the newly duplicated material profile entry from the left pane.
- Fill the inputs in both the Information and Print Settings tabs with the properties of your filament.
Aside from adding your own custom presets, you can also download presets directly from the Cura marketplace by clicking the “Add more materials from Marketplace” button in step 3 instead of the Manage Materials button.
Upon success, you should be able to find the material profile you have just added to Cura in the Material dropdown list and activate it by clicking the corresponding entry.
When to Use Materials Over Profile Settings in Cura?
There is no denying that the material profiles are pretty similar to the print setting profiles in terms of what they offer, but their purposes are slightly different than each other.
We recommend using the material profiles to save the filament-specific configuration and extending the material configuration through the print setting profiles for different purposes and qualities.
An example of this would be having a material profile for PETG filament, a print setting profile for cosmetic prints with high resolution, and another print setting profile for objects with functional purposes that can benefit from factors such as durability and strength.
Please note that the configuration in print setting profiles overrides the configuration in material profiles. As a result, in a case where a value such as the print temperature is different across the currently active material and the print setting profiles, Cura will use the value in the print settings profile.
While a more underrated feature compared to the print setting profiles, material profiles in Cura are, without a doubt, a fantastic way to create a better 3D printing experience in terms of convenience.
To quickly recap, you can use the material profiles feature in Cura to create specific presets that include variables such as print temperature, bed temperature, and more for different types and brands of filament.
You can then use these profiles to load the configuration quickly for the filament you will be using – instead of requiring to enter the parameters manually every time you swap filaments.
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.