Slicer configuration is what makes or breaks a 3D printed model, as even slightly misconfiguring a single parameter can entirely destroy a print and render it unusable.
While slicers usually do a great job of explaining each of the parameters concisely, we believe that going into detail about how a parameter really impacts the printing process can be significantly helpful, especially for those just starting out.
Today, we will discuss the Z hop parameter in Cura, a parameter that can effortlessly improve how good your prints look when correctly configured – and one that can also quickly ruin a model if not.
So, what is Z hop in Cura?
Z hop is a feature in Cura that causes the build plate to move down (or the printhead to move up) when the printer performs a retraction.
When Z hop is enabled, the nozzle doesn’t directly contact the model while it’s performing a travel move, which can be helpful to prevent blobbing or scratching on the print surface.
In the upcoming sections, we will take a deeper look at how the Z hop feature functions, how you can configure Z hop optimally, and troubleshooting issues related to Z hop.
What is Z Hop in Cura?
Similar to many other features you can find in Cura, Z hop also comes with both positives and negatives of its own, making it a matter of preference whether to enable it or not.
Z Hop, known as Z Hop When Retracted in Cura, is a setting that moves the build plate down or moves the printhead up after a retraction, depending on the printer.
Enabling this setting creates a gap between the object and the nozzle before each travel move, preventing scratches and filament blobs from appearing on the model.
While Z hop looks like a feature that you should automatically enable in every case with the advantage it brings to the table, there is also a significant downside that comes with it.
When it’s enabled, Z hop adds a lot of extra movement in the Z-axis, which will slow a print down drastically and cause your printer to struggle during the printing process.
As a result, we only recommend enabling Z hop in Cura if you are having issues with scratching or blobbing on your models, considering what this feature brings isn’t very necessary if you aren’t experiencing these issues.
How to Configure Z Hop in Cura?
As the Z hop setting in Cura does not require too many parameters to operate, configuring it is a straightforward task for the most part.
Below are the Z hop parameters, their function, and how you should configure them:
- Z Hop Speed (mm/s) – This option determines the speed of the build plate’s or printhead’s movement during a Z hop. Lower values will cause the printing process to take longer, whereas higher values can cause stringing. As a rule of thumb, set this to a value lower than the print speed.
- Z Hop Only Over Printed Parts – This option causes the Z hop feature to only work when the printhead is above a printed part of the model. We recommend enabling it to make the printing process faster.
- Z Hop Height – This option determines the height between the nozzle and the build plate after a Z hop. Aim for the lowest value possible where blobbing and scratching do not occur, as high values will slow the printing process down way too much.
- Z Hop After Extruder Switch (multiple extruders only) – This option causes a Z hop to trigger after an extruder switch. We recommend enabling it to reduce the chance of oozing as much as possible.
- Z Hop After Extruder Switch Height (multiple extruders only) – This option determines the height between the nozzle and the build plate after a Z hop that is triggered due to an extruder switch. Once again, aim for the lowest value possible where blobbing and scratching do not occur.
- Wipe Z Hop – This option triggers a Z hop after a wipe (if Wipe Nozzle Between Layers is enabled). We recommend activating it to reduce oozing.
- Wipe Z Hop Height – This option determines the height between the nozzle and the build plate after a Z hop that is triggered due to a wipe. Aim for the lowest value possible where blobbing and scratching do not occur.
Z Hop Not Working in Cura – What to Do?
It can be very infuriating when the Z hop feature in Cura does not function, especially considering that there isn’t a lot that can go wrong during configuration.
Here are some possible culprits that can cause the Z hop feature not to work and solutions you can apply to fix them.
Z Hop Speed Error
The Z hop speed error issue is perhaps the most common culprit behind the feature not functioning as intended.
Here are the steps we recommend following to resolve this issue:
- Download and install the Printer Settings Cura plugin from here.
- Click the button next to the search box of Print Settings in Cura, and click All to make all options visible.
- Type “z speed” into the search box.
- Set the value of Maximum Z Speed Travel to a value that is higher than Z Hop Speed.
Combing is a feature in Cura that causes the printhead to skip performing retraction and Z hop moves.
Here is how you can check if combing is enabled:
- Bring the Print Settings up, and switch to Custom mode if you haven’t already.
- Type “combing” into the search box.
- If the Combing Mode parameter shows anything other than Off, it means that the feature is active.
Z Hop Only Over Printed Parts
Z Hop Only Over Printed Parts is a parameter of the Z hop feature itself, and it can make it look like Z hop isn’t working as intended.
Here is how you can check if this parameter is active:
- Go to Print Settings, and enable the Custom mode.
- Type “z hop” into the search box.
- See if the checkbox next to Z Hop Only Over Printed Parts is active.
How to Disable Z Hop in Cura?
Since Cura does not display all of the settings by default, finding the Z hop setting and disabling it can be confusing, especially if you aren’t familiar with the slicer.
Here are the steps we recommend taking to disable Z hop in Cura:
- Click the Prepare tab on top of the window.
- Click the rightmost pane to bring Print Settings up, and click the Custom button.
- Click the icon next to the search box, and choose the All option from the dropdown menu to make all settings visible.
- Type “z hop” in the search box.
- Uncheck the Z Hop When Retracted checkbox to disable Z hop.
After following these steps, the z hop feature should not be active anymore.
Configuring the Z hop value correctly in Cura is vital to the printing process as a wrongly configured Z hop value can quickly damage your print by causing the nozzle to scratch the model or leave blobs of filament on the model as it moves.
Since Z hop is one of the manageable settings to get right in Cura, you should easily be able to configure it without spending too much time or effort on it and bring the quality of your prints up a notch.
We hope that this read has been enjoyable and informative, and we will see you next time!
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.