It’s entirely possible to achieve success in 3D printing by only correctly configuring the core parameters that your slicer software requires to be able to move forward with slicing your models, such as the print temperature and the fan speed, and leaving the rest as their default values.
On the other hand, it’s undeniable that familiarizing yourself with the full extent of what the slicer software you’re using offers, including the advanced settings, is a fantastic way to take your prints to the next level, have an easier time troubleshooting things when necessary, and gain a better overall knowledge of the 3D printing process.
In today’s article, our topic will be one such advanced setting that you can find in Cura, known as the outer wall wipe distance, which will usually perform well enough while it’s set to the default value but can offer a lot more if you fine-tune it.
So, what is the functionality of the outer wall wipe distance parameter in Cura?
The outer wall wipe distance parameter in Cura causes the nozzle to travel a particular distance without any extrusion after finishing up each outer wall, which reduces the visibility of the Z-seam that appears as a result of the nozzle traveling directly from the outer walls to other parts.
Moving forward, we will be analyzing what the outer wall wipe distance feature offers in more detail, find out how to optimally configure it and where to find it in Cura, and finally, discuss the scenarios where it would be suitable to utilize it.
What Is Outer Wall Wipe Distance in Cura?
We can consider the outer wall wipe distance feature to be one that significantly improves the quality of the surface of your 3D printed model by introducing an element that does not take place during the 3D printing process by default.
Whenever the 3D printer completes the printing of an outer wall, it has to stop extruding and stop moving for a short while until it positions itself to the starting point of the next layer, which releases the built-up pressure in the nozzle and causes a blob of filament to be unwantedly extruded.
When the same phenomenon occurs during the printing of every single outer wall, the blobs accumulate in the same X/Y position but different Z positions, creating the imperfection known as the Z-seam, where a bump appears throughout the entire Z-axis of the printed model.
The outer wall wipe distance feature in Cura instructs the nozzle to move a certain distance without extruding after the wall is complete, which reduces the Z-seam’s visibility as this extra movement causes the leftover filament on the nozzle to be wiped on the wall, reducing the likelihood of unwanted filament coming out of the nozzle during its travel to the upcoming layer.
While the outer wall wipe distance feature is not the only way to combat the Z-seam issue, as other features, such as coasting and linear advance, are also very effective, it’s one that’s worth keeping active, especially considering that it doesn’t have any drawbacks when configured correctly.
How to Configure the Outer Wall Wipe Distance Value in Cura?
Setting the outer wall wipe distance to an optimal value plays a vital role in how well the feature will function and fulfill its duty, and in fact, a misconfiguration can cause it to do more harm than good.
To configure the outer wall wipe distance value in Cura as optimally as possible, we recommend starting with a value of 0.2 mm and increasing it in increments of 0.2 mm until you don’t see an improvement in the visibility of the Z-seam as a result of increasing the value anymore.
In most cases, the optimal outer wall wipe distance value falls between the range of 0.2 mm to 0.6 mm, meaning that you should be able to find the one that works best for you after a few test prints.
As setting the outer wall wipe distance to a value that is lower than optimal will not be very effective in hiding the Z-seam, and setting it to a value that is high than optimal can cause under-extrusion later on, optimal configuration is necessary to get the maximum possible benefit out of this feature.
How to Find the Outer Wall Wipe Distance Parameter in Cura?
The outer wall wipe distance parameter resides with the rest of the print settings in Cura, meaning that there aren’t any special steps you need to take to find and modify it.
Below is a step-by-step guide you can use to find and modify the Outer Wall Wipe Distance parameter in Cura:
- Navigate to the Prepare tab of Cura, located at the top of the window.
- Click the pane on the right to make the Print Settings dialog visible.
- Click the icon next to the search input (three horizontal lines), and select All from the dropdown menu to make advanced settings of Cura visible.
- Type “outer wall wipe” into the search input and press Enter.
Following the steps above will make the Outer Wall Wipe Distance parameter visible, allowing you to modify the value as desired.
When to Use the Outer Wall Wipe Distance Feature in Cura?
As the outer wall wipe distance is a feature that directly impacts the extrusion, it’s vital to ensure that you only use it when necessary to prevent it from adversely affecting the 3D printing process.
We recommend using the outer wall wipe distance feature in Cura in any scenario where the Z-seam being obviously visible is a problem for the purposes of your 3D printed model, such as in the case of a decorative piece that should look as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
Since the Z-seam does not pose a threat to the functionality of the 3D printed model, in the cases where it won’t be visible or where its visibility does not matter, you won’t need to concern yourself too much about optimally tuning the outer wall wipe distance parameter.
The outer wall wipe distance feature in Cura is one that we definitely recommend getting familiar with, as it offers a practical way to combat the notorious Z-seam issue that significantly lowers the surface quality of the model in most 3D printers.
To quickly recap, the outer wall wipe distance parameter in Cura determines the distance that the nozzle will travel without extrusion after completing an outer wall, reducing the visibility of the Z-seam that appears as a result of the nozzle traveling to its next position from the end of the wall.
As correctly configuring the outer wall wipe distance value is optimal for the feature to produce the expected results, we highly recommend running a few test prints to ensure that it works as intended before moving forward with the actual print.
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.