There are hundreds of distinct parameters that are up for configuration in Cura, with each parameter affecting the printing process in different ways, ranging from changes to the surface quality of the print to the amount of time it takes to complete the printing process.
With so many parameters at play, it’s also possible (and necessary to an extent) to categorize them in terms of complexity to have a better understanding of how configuration works, such as considering the print temperature and the print speed parameters to be some of the more basic parameters that are related to the core functionality of the 3D printer, and others, such as coasting, to be on the more advanced side of things.
Today, we will be diving into one of the advanced parameters you can find and utilize in Cura to optimize your prints, known as slicing tolerance, which is a feature that will benefit your prints when it’s correctly configured without requiring frequent re-configuration to ensure that it’s optimized.
So, what is the slicing tolerance feature in Cura?
Slicing tolerance is a Cura feature that allows you to determine how the slicer will try to compensate for the inaccuracies caused by the division of a mesh into individual layers appearing on the diagonal regions between the calculated volume of the model and the actual volume of the model.
Next up, we will analyze the slicing tolerance feature of Cura in more detail, go through the steps to follow to find the feature in Cura’s settings, and finally, discuss how to configure the slicing tolerance feature as optimally as possible depending on your case.
What Is the Slicing Tolerance Feature in Cura?
Even though slicing tolerance is one of the features that Cura considers experimental, meaning that its configuration is not mandatory by any means, having a good grasp of everything the slicer software has to offer is the best way to improve your prints.
While the digital version of the 3D model is essentially a continuous mesh that is one single part, the 3D printer requires the model to be divided into a finite amount of individual layers for the printing process.
When Cura, or any other slicer attempts to conduct the division process, the sloped areas of the 3D model usually create inconsistencies, with parts of each layer potentially becoming smaller or larger than they actually should be.
The slicing tolerance feature in Cura aims to give the user control over how the slicer will treat such inconsistencies, which eliminates the problem of the dimensional inaccuracies caused by these inconsistencies to render the printed model unusable.
As a result of using the slicing tolerance feature, the dimensional accuracy of the printed model becomes much more predictable, making it a straightforward task to take the necessary measures.
How to Find the Slicing Tolerance Feature in Cura?
As slicing tolerance is one of the more advanced features that Cura offers, you may not be able to find it at the first look if you have not taken the additional steps required to make such settings visible in your Cura installation.
Below is a quick step-by-step guide you can follow to locate the slicing tolerance feature in Cura as quickly as possible:
- Click the Prepare tab on the top of the Cura window.
- Choose the right pane below to bring up the Print Settings.
- Click the “three lines” icon next to the search input, and choose All.
- Type “slicing tolerance” into the search input and press Enter.
- Pick the desired option from the Slicing Tolerance dropdown.
If you would like to disable the effects of the slicing tolerance feature, you can choose the Middle option from the dropdown, which is the default.
How to Configure the Slicing Tolerance Feature in Cura?
Slicing tolerance being an advanced parameter means that it’s especially significant to ensure that it’s correctly configured to prevent the printing process from being negatively affected by the feature if you’re planning on using a value that isn’t the default.
The default value of the slicing tolerance parameter in Cura is Middle, which is the option that tells Cura to keep the actual volume of the model as close to the calculated model. When you select this option, some parts of the printed model can be larger or smaller than the original design.
To achieve this effect, Cura takes the cross-section of each layer right in the middle and includes all the regions of the calculated model that fall into this section in the layers that will be printed.
The next value you can find in the slicing tolerance dropdown is Inclusive, which tells Cura to make the actual volume of the model at least as big as the volume of the calculated model. When you select this option, some regions of the model can be larger than the original design.
In this case, Cura takes the cross-section of each layer at the top and the bottom of the layers and includes all the regions that fall into either cross-section in the layers that will be printed.
Finally, the last option you can choose for slicing tolerance is Exclusive, which tells Cura to make the volume of the actual model equal to or smaller than the volume of the calculated model. When you select this option, some regions of the printed model can be smaller than the digital model.
When you pick Exclusive, Cura takes the cross-section of each layer at the top and the bottom once again, similar to Inclusive, but this time only includes the regions that fall into both cross-sections in the layers that will be printed.
Now that we know the meaning of each option – let’s discuss how you can correctly choose between depending on the scenario.
The Exclusive option is best for models where dimensional accuracy is vital, such as models that you print with the purpose of using them as mechanical parts since this will ensure that the models will never be larger than the space they need to occupy.
On the other hand, the Inclusive option is the pick for models where some extra padding that doesn’t belong to the model itself can come in handy, such as models that you will be applying post-processing to through techniques that include the sanding of the object.
Finally, as the default value, the Middle option is suitable for pretty much anything else, such as decorative items that don’t require exact dimensions and that you aren’t planning on improving through post-processing.
Having a grasp of the more advanced features that Cura offers, such as slicing tolerance, and correctly utilizing them will definitely bring positives to your prints, no matter how small they might be, and get you one step closer to obtaining a perfectly 3D printed model.
To quickly recap, the slicing tolerance feature in Cura determines the direction of the compensation applied for the dimensional inaccuracies that occur in the sloped areas between the digital version of the model and the actual printed model.
This way, it’s possible for you to ensure that your model will always fit the planned dimensions in cases where the measurements are highly sensitive or allow the model to have some extra padding for processes such as sanding.
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.