It’s an undeniable fact that using slicer software is a necessity to be able to print a 3D model, as it’s the only way to convert the 3D model you have at hand into a format that your 3D printer can read from and conduct the 3D printing process according to the data contained within the file.
On the other hand, nowadays, modern slicer software is much more than a simple tool that fulfills the purpose of converting 3D model files into G-code files that your 3D printer can interpret and read, with many features that allow you to customize every step of the 3D printing process according to your needs.
In today’s article, our discussion will be on the pause at height feature in Cura, in particular, which is one of the lesser-known (primarily due to it not being an exact necessity for a successful 3D printing process) but powerful features you can utilize to have more control over your prints in a user-friendly way.
So, what is the purpose of the pause at height feature in Cura?
The pause at height feature in Cura allows you to specify a particular height or layer number value where the 3D printer will automatically pause the printing process until you manually resume it while also offering some extra functionalities such as parking the printhead at a safe location during the pause.
Next up, we will be examining the pause at height feature of Cura in greater detail, find out how to activate and configure the pause at height feature, discuss when it would be suitable to use it, and finally, take a glance at manually pausing the 3D printing process, which can act as an alternative to the pause at height feature at times.
What Is the Pause at Height Feature in Cura?
While the purpose of the pause at height feature is reasonably apparent from the name of the feature itself, there is definitely room for detailed discussion to make how the feature operates as straightforward as possible, especially considering that it offers many modification parameters.
In a nutshell, the pause at height feature in Cura is one that allows you to set breakpoints at particular heights or layer numbers of the 3D printing process, causing the 3D printing process to automatically come to an indefinite pause that can only be manually resumed once the 3D printer reaches any of these breakpoints.
To achieve this effect, Cura inserts the pause G-code command (such as M0 in Marlin) at the spots that correspond to the specified height or layer number values as it creates the G-code file that your 3D printer will use to conduct the printing process, which prompts the 3D printer to pause once it parses those particular lines.
Even though it would technically be possible to do this manually as well, considering that it’s nothing more than the addition of a few G-code lines when we think about it, finding the correct lines that correspond to the height or layer number you would like the pause to occur at would be incredibly time-consuming.
How to Activate and Configure the Pause at Height Feature in Cura?
As the pause at height feature in Cura is not located with the rest of the standard print settings we are all used to configuring frequently, you may not be able to find it at the first look if you aren’t too familiar with Cura’s menus.
Below, you can find a step-by-step guide that you can follow to activate the pause at height feature in Cura:
- Click the Extensions option on the menubar of Cura.
- Hover over the Post Processing option in the dropdown menu, and click the Modify G-Code option that pops up as a result.
- Click the Add a Script button located under the Post Processing Scripts section on the left.
- Choose the pause at height option from the dropdown menu.
You can follow the steps we have mentioned above as many times as you would like if you require more than one pause, which will add more “pause at height” entries to the post-processing scripts section that you can configure individually.
Once you activate the pause at height feature, you will be presented with the parameters that affect how it operates, where some are mandatory (such as the height where the pause will take place), and some are optional (such as the position where the printhead will be parked), which you can configure based on your needs.
Below, you can find a complete list of the required (you will need to configure correctly) and the optional (can be left as default) parameters related to the pause at height feature, where the required parameters are marked with a star (*).
- Pause at* – Allows you to specify whether the pause will occur at a particular height or layer number.
- Pause height* / Pause layer* – Allows you to specify the height or the layer number value where the pause will occur.
- Method* – Allows you to specify the pause G-code command that Cura will insert into the file. The value is parameter will be based on the firmware you’re using.
- Disarm timeout – Allows you to specify an amount of time that will cause the 3D printer to disable the steppers once the specified amount of time is spent during the pause.
- Park Print – Allows you to instruct the 3D printer to move the printhead to a safe location during the pause.
- Park Print Head X – The X position where the printhead will be located while it’s parked.
- Park Print Head Y – The Y position where the printhead will be located while it’s parked.
- Retraction – Allows you to specify the retraction distance that will be used after the pause.
- Retraction Speed – Allows you to specify the retraction speed that will be used after the pause.
- Extrude Amount – Allows you to specify the length of filament that will be extruded after the pause, which can be required for compensation after a filament change.
- Extrude Speed – Allows you to specify the speed of the extrusion after the pause.
- Redo Layer – Enabling this option instructs the 3D printer to re-print the layer that was printed before the pause, which acts as a way to get the filament flowing again after the pause.
- Standby Temperature – Allows you to specify the temperature that the nozzle will be at during the pause.
- Display Text – Allows you to display a text on the LCD controller of your 3D printer during the pause.
- G-code Before Pause – Allows you to insert a G-code command right before the pause takes place.
- G-code After Pause – Allows you to insert a G-code command right after the pause takes place.
The Method parameter, in particular, is one you will always need to configure correctly based on the firmware you’re using, as the pause at height feature won’t be able to successfully pause the 3D printing process in cases where this parameter is misconfigured.
When to Utilize the Cura Pause at Height Feature?
Even though it may seem like there isn’t much of a reason to pause your prints at a particular point at first glance, there are definitely scenarios where the Cura pause at height feature is extremely convenient and helpful.
The most widespread usage of the pause at height feature in Cura is to perform a filament change, whether it’s because more filament than the current spool contains is required to complete the print or to switch to a differently-colored filament for the purposes of creating a multi-colored print.
Another great example where the pause at height feature becomes extremely useful is the addition of external parts, such as embedding nuts and bolts into the 3D printed model, where pausing the print at a precise point becomes even more important for the pieces to fit correctly.
Practically speaking, you can utilize the feature for any application where pausing the 3D printing process at an exact point is necessary, meaning that there isn’t really a right or wrong way to use it, as long as you can find a way to benefit from it.
How to Manually Pause the 3D Printing Process?
Even though setting the pause at height feature up is the more reliable way of pausing your print at a particular point, it’s also entirely possible to achieve the same effect by manually pausing the process in cases where you haven’t configured an automatic pause.
The most straightforward to manually pause the 3D printing process is to utilize the LCD controller of your 3D printer, as the LCD controller always contains a button that you can press to initiate a pause that will last until you manually unpause again.
On the other hand, it’s also entirely possible to initiate a pause through a 3D printing interface, such as OctoPrint, which will allow you to pause and resume the 3D printing process directly from your computer without needing to interact with the 3D printer physically.
Finally, you can pause the 3D printing process by directly issuing the related G-code command, such as M0 in Marlin firmware, which essentially is what happens when you initiate a pause through the LCD controller a 3D printing interface anyway.
While we can consider Cura’s pause at height to be more of a niche feature that you most likely won’t need to utilize regularly, it’s definitely a handy one to keep in the toolbox for when the occasion arises with how easy it can make things compared to going down the manual route.
To quickly recap, you can use the Cura pause at height feature to instruct the 3D printer to automatically pause the printing process when a particular height or layer number is reached, which will cause the print to remain in its paused state until you manually resume it again.
This way, you won’t have to worry about manually initiating the pause at a particular point of the printing process, which will come in incredibly handy for scenarios such as swapping to a differently colored filament, where it becomes essential for the print to be correctly paused at the exact point where the color change is required.
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.