If there is one thing that’s undeniable about 3D printing, it’s the fact that it’s a lengthy process in almost every case, but even more so if you intend to print larger and more complex models or more than a single copy of a model.
Fortunately, in the case of printing multiple models, it is possible to save some time by eliminating the downtime that occurs in the time between the finishing of the previous printing process and the start of the next one by performing some adjustments, allowing you to conduct the process more smoothly.
In today’s article, we will be talking about one such adjustment; configuring Cura in a way to make printing of multiple objects in a single printing session possible, in particular, which is one of the best time-related optimizations to make if you already have more than one model you would like to print in mind.
So, how can you print multiple objects at once in Cura?
The most straightforward way to print multiple objects at once in Cura is to place all the STL files you intend to print into a folder, open the Open Files dialog (CTRL+O for Windows, CMD+O for Mac), and multi-select (CTRL-Click in Windows, CMD-Click for Mac) the STL files you would like to print.
Moving forward, we will dive deeper into printing multiple objects at once in Cura, go through the process of configuring each object’s settings separately when printing numerous objects at once, find out how to stack models in Cura, and finally, discuss the differences between the Print One at a Time and All at Once options that are related to printing multiple objects.
How to Print Multiple Objects at Once in Cura?
As the build plate of a 3D printer can accommodate more than a single model in most cases, printing multiple objects at once is a great way to converse the time you would otherwise have to spend on starting the printing process again with the following model.
If all the models you want to print together are already located in the same folder, we recommend following the steps below to import and print multiple objects at once in Cura:
- Click the File option on the menubar of Cura, and choose Open Files. Alternatively, you can use the CTRL+O / CMD+O keyboard shortcut.
- Navigate to the directory where your models are.
- Multi-select the models you would like to import. You can CTRL+Click / CMD+Click the files separately to gather them all or select them by dragging, depending on whichever is convenient.
- Click the Open button.
On the other hand, if the files are in separate places, you can follow the steps below instead:
- Bring up the Open Files dialog in Cura.
- Navigate to the directory where the first model you want to import is located.
- Select the model you would like to import.
- Click the Open button.
- Repeat the above steps for each model you would like to add.
As either method will produce the same results, you can pick the one you think will be the most convenient for you based on how your files are structured.
How to Configure Different Settings for Multiple Objects in Cura?
Since it’s entirely possible for the two distinct models that you intend to print together to require a different set of configurations, the capability to perform such an adjustment is one of the most critical things for printing multiple objects to be feasible.
Here is a step-by-step guide you can follow to configure print settings separately for each object when you’re printing them at the same time:
- Click the object that you would like to configure separately from the rest.
- Click the Per Model Settings (5th icon from the top) tab from the left toolbar.
- Click the Normal Model (1st from the left) mesh type.
- Click the Select Settings button.
- Check the Show All checkbox on the top-right.
- Search for the settings you would like to modify for this model through the Filter input at the top of the dialog, and check the corresponding boxes that correspond to these settings.
- Close the dialog.
Following the steps above, all the settings you have checked will appear with the corresponding input boxes, similar to how the global print settings are, and the modifications you perform to these settings will only apply to the object you have chosen.
As a rule of thumb, the per-model settings will override the global print settings as long as they are active, and to make the model inherit the global print settings again, you will need to uncheck the option from the Select Settings dialog.
How to Stack Multiple Models in Cura?
While not a feature you will often require, stacking multiple models can be necessary at times for purposes such as increasing the thickness or printing a more complex model that consists of numerous pieces.
Below, we have listed the steps you can take to stack multiple models in Cura:
- Click the Preferences option on the top menu of Cura, and choose Configure Cura from the dropdown.
- Click the General tab from the left pane.
- Uncheck “Automatically drop models to the build plate.”
- Uncheck “Ensure models are kept apart.”
- Right-click the model you want to stack and choose Multiply Selected from the dropdown menu.
- Input the number of copies required, and click the OK button.
- Select all the objects you want to stack. You can use the CTRL+A shortcut to select all or multi-select by Shift-Clicking.
- Right-click and choose the Center Selected option, which will gather all the copies on the same spot.
- Click one of the models, navigate to the Scale tab (2nd icon from the top) on the left toolbar, and note the Z value.
- Navigate to the Move tab (1st icon from the top) on the left toolbar, and input the Z value you have noted in step 9.
- Repeat step 10 for all the copies of the model that still have a Z position of 0, except the last one, but increment the Z value as much as itself after each step.
For instance, if the Z scale of the model you’re stacking is 20, the Z position value you should use will start at 20 and increase by 20 with each step, such as 40 for the second time, 60 for the third time, and so on.
Print One at a Time vs. All at Once – What Is the Difference?
Cura offers two different ways to print multiple models during the same printing process, which are the Print One at a Time and the All at Once modes that you can find under the Print Sequence parameter.
Selecting the Print One at a Time option will cause the 3D printer to conduct the printing process sequentially, meaning that in the case where there are multiple models available in the same print job, the 3D printer will finish printing one model before moving on to the next.
On the other hand, when the All at Once option is selected, the 3D printer will treat all the separate models as if they were a single model and follow the standard layer-by-layer approach, meaning that it will complete the upcoming layer of each model before moving forward to the next.
Between the two, the Print One at a Time option will offer results closest to printing every model separately but without the hassle of starting the printing process over and over for each model, whereas the All at Once option entirely changes the print dynamics.
The capability to print multiple objects in a single printing process can definitely come in handy in many cases, such as printing multiple copies of a model, especially considering that the build area is usually much larger than a standard 3D printed model and can accommodate many more.
To quickly recap, you can import multiple STL files at once into Cura for the purposes of printing them at the same time by either multi-selecting the files in the Open Files dialog or selecting single files one after the other with both methods being perfectly viable.
On the other hand, to delete any of the files that you have imported, all you need to do is to select the object, right-click, and either choose the Delete Selected option from the menu or hit the DEL key on the keyboard of your computer.