Sequential printing is a feature that makes the 3D printer finish one object before moving to the next while printing multiple objects, as opposed to the standard way of printing where the printer handles different objects as if they were a singular object and follows a layer-by-layer order.
While the advantage of this may not seem apparent at first, it’s actually a fantastic feature for two significant reasons. First, it minimizes oozing and stringing between objects that may happen as a result of the printer going back and forth. Second, in a scenario where something goes wrong with a print, it prevents all the objects from getting damaged.
You can find this feature in most slicers, but the setting may be located in different places or have a different name. Today, we will be talking about how you can activate this feature in Cura (as it’s the most used slicer) and go over the configuration it requires to work.
So, how to print one at a time (sequentially) in Cura?
To activate the print one at a time feature in Cura, find the Print Sequence setting located under the Special Modes menu, and select the One at a Time option from the dropdown.
When the One at a Time option is selected, you must also configure the Printhead Settings section before printing.
As incorrectly configured slicer settings can cause issues like the extruder bumping into the objects, it’s vital to ensure that you configure everything correctly.
Without further ado, let’s dive deeper into how this feature operates and how you can make the best out of it without experiencing issues.
How to Print One at a Time (Sequentially) on Cura?
Printing sequentially in Cura is pretty straightforward with how easy the slicer makes it to enable the feature.
While the names of the feature can show differences between slicers, the sequential printing feature is called one at a time in Cura, which refers to objects being printed one by one.
There are two ways you can go about finding and activating this setting.
- Type print sequence in the search box of Cura’s print settings menu, and select the One at a Time option in the dropdown menu located next to the Print Sequence entry.
- Find the Special Modes sub-menu in Cura’s print settings, expand it, and find the Print Sequence entry there. Select the One at a Time option in the dropdown menu.
As you can see, enabling sequential printing in Cura is as easy as it comes.
While you have now successfully enabled sequential printing, there is one more thing you will have to do to ensure that the sequential printing feature works correctly, which is to configure the printhead settings.
Configuring the Printhead Settings
Printhead settings comprise five different distance values that are only put into effect by Cura when the One at a Time option is enabled.
Here are the settings you will need to configure in this section.
- X min – The horizontal distance between the left side of the printhead and the nozzle.
- Y min – The horizontal distance between the front side of the printhead and the nozzle.
- X max – The horizontal distance between the right side of the printhead and the nozzle.
- Y max – The horizontal distance between the rear side of the printhead and the nozzle.
- Gantry height – The vertical distance between the gantry (where the printhead is) and the build plate.
*All of the values above are measured in millimeters (mm).
To configure these settings correctly for your printer, you will need to take precise measurements of the values we have listed above, preferably with a caliper.
While a ruler would also do the job, it’s a lot more error-prone than a caliper, and considering that these measurements are sensitive, a small error can cause significant problems during print.
When you finish measuring all of the values, input them into their respective boxes (double-check to ensure that you put the correct value in its box).
Congratulations, you have successfully configured sequential printing in Cura!
For those who are curious, we have dedicated a section at the end of the article that explains why printhead settings are required for sequential printing, whereas it’s not for continuous printing.
Configuring the Cura Print One at a Time Order
Unfortunately, Cura does not allow you to configure the order of the objects the printer will print when the One at a Time feature is enabled.
Despite a large amount of interest from the community, Ultimaker has not implemented this feature into Cura yet, and it doesn’t look like they will be doing so anytime soon.
That being said, there are a few workarounds that community members have discovered if you absolutely need to configure the print order.
We will be sharing one of the workarounds that worked for us, but as it’s not an officially supported way of deciding the print order, use it at your own risk.
- Start by selecting the model you want to print second.
- Hold the shift key, and select the model you want to print first.
- Press Ctrl + G to group the models.
- Hold the shift key, and select the model you want to print third.
- Repeat the steps between 2 and 5 until you go through all the models.
- With the entire group selected, press Ctrl + Shift + G repeatedly until you ungroup all the groups you have created earlier.
- Slice, preview the sequence, and print if the order is correct.
You can read more about this subject here (which is also where we got the workaround from) if you are interested.
Why Is Print One at a Time Not Working in Cura?
While the Print One at a Time feature in Cura may not be working for various reasons, here are some things that could be the culprit.
- You haven’t configured the printhead settings correctly.
- The objects you are printing are too tall.
- The models you have imported are overlapping with one another. As Cura allocates a certain amount of extra space for each object to ensure that collisions don’t happen, overlaps may take place even when two models aren’t directly overlapping with each other.
Why Are Printhead Settings Necessary?
As the printhead follows a layer-by-layer basis during continuous printing, the slicer knows all of the points on the Z-axis that are empty for all XY coordinates.
On the other hand, with sequential printing, there are completed objects scattered around the build plate, meaning that the slicer has no way of knowing whether a point on the coordinate plane is occupied or not, which is where printhead settings come into play.
The values that you input into the printhead settings allow the slicer to do the necessary calculations to move the printhead through areas where it won’t clatter into the objects that have been printed earlier.
Sequential printing (one at a time) will certainly make your life easier if you are printing multiple objects at once and increase the quality of your prints.
Considering how easy it is to set up in Cura, you should definitely give it a try if you have encountered issues related to stringing and blobbing while printing multiple objects in continuous printing mode.
While not being able to set the printer is a definite drawback for some, we believe that the feature is good enough for usage in most scenarios.
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.