The primary purpose of slicer software is to convert the model files, also known as STL files, into a language that the 3D printer can process to conduct the printing process, known as G-code, which essentially is a list of instructions that the printer follows in order to print your model.
On the other hand, modern slicer software, such as Cura, offers a plethora of extra functionality, ranging from simple features such as making changes to the model’s size to advanced features such as printing the model as a mold instead.
Today, we will find if the Cura slicer offers a measuring tool that allows the users to measure the distance between any two points on the model they will be printing directly on the slicer software, without requiring an external piece of software for the process.
So, is there a measuring tool in Cura that we can use to measure our models, or do we have to do our measuring in a separate software?
While Cura doesn’t ship with a built-in measuring tool, it’s possible to add measuring tool functionality to Cura by downloading the Measure Tool plugin on the Ultimaker Marketplace, which allows you to measure the X, Y, and Z distances between any two points on a model.
Moving forward, we will discuss the presence of the measuring tool in Cura in more detail, examine an alternative method that allows us to add the measuring tool functionality in Cura, and finally, take a quick glance at how we can use the measuring tool functionality we have just added.
Is There a Measuring Tool in Cura?
A measuring tool is definitely a handy feature for slicer software to offer, as measurements are a significant part of the 3D printing process that the users need to access whenever they need to ensure that everything is in order.
Even though Cura does not have the measuring tool functionality by default, it’s possible to bring this feature to Cura by installing the Measure Tool plugin on the Ultimaker Marketplace, which essentially acts as if it was a core Cura feature.
While we would have liked to see this functionality in Cura as a part of the core feature set, considering how easy it is to install the plugin and how it natively integrates into Cura makes the user experience a smooth one that beats having to use external software for the measuring tasks any day of the year.
How to Activate the Measuring Tool in Cura?
Activating the measuring tool functionality in Cura requires a slightly different process than using the built-in functionality offered in the slicer due to the fact that Cura does not ship with the measuring tool functionality included.
Here is a step-by-step guide you can follow to activate the measuring tool functionality in Cura by installing the Measure Tool plugin:
- Click the Marketplace button located on the top-right corner of the Cura window.
- Scroll down to find the Measure Tool plugin in the Plugins tab of the Marketplace window. Alternatively, you can find the Measure Tool here, which will take you to Ultimaker Marketplace on your browser.
- Click the Install (or the Add to Cura button if you’re on the browser) to install the Measure Tool plugin.
- Agree to the license agreement to start the installation process.
- Restart Cura after the installation process is over.
After you restart Cura, the Measure Tool plugin should be installed, which you can verify by clicking the Marketplace tab again and navigating to the Installed section.
Since you will need an Ultimaker account to download plugins from the Ultimaker Marketplace, the best course of action is to create an account and log in from both Cura and your browser to avoid any issues.
On the other hand, if you would like to uninstall the Measure Tool plugin, all you need to do is click the Marketplace button, navigate to the Installed tab, and click the Uninstall button next to the Measure Tool entry.
As Cura makes it possible to deactivate a plugin without entirely uninstalling it, you can also temporarily disable the Measure Tool plugin by unchecking the checkbox located on the left of the entry if you wish.
How to Use the Measuring Tool in Cura?
Using the measuring tool feature in Cura is as simple as it comes due to its user-friendliness, which makes measuring the distance between any two points of your model an effortless process that won’t take more than a few seconds of your time.
Here is a step-by-step guide you can follow to access and use the measuring tool in Cura (Measure Tool plugin) as effortlessly as possible:
- Click the measuring tool icon on the left sidebar of Cura, which should appear below features such as scale and rotate if the Measure Tool plugin is active.
- Click two arbitrary points on the same side of the model, which will create two black dots on the model.
- Drag the first dot to the part of the model you would like to establish as the first point of measurement.
- Drag the second dot to the part of the model you would like to establish as the second point of measurement.
After dragging the dots to the desired points, you can observe the coordinates for both dots and the distance between them separately for the X, Y, and Z axes.
Tip: To drag the dot to a part of the model that is not in your view, you can hold the left mouse button on the dot while you rotate the camera with the right mouse button and then drag the dot to the point of your choice.
We believe having access to a measuring tool within the slicer makes preparing a model for the 3D printing process a much smoother experience, which is why we would love to see this feature in every slicer software.
To quickly recap, while Cura does not come with a measuring tool of its own, it’s possible to add measuring tool functionality to Cura natively by installing the Measure Tool plugin from the Ultimaker Marketplace.
As the Measure Tool plugin inserts itself to the sidebar of Cura along with core Cura features such as scaling and rotation, using the plugin is a smooth experience that is no different than using any other built-in Cura feature.
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.