UNSW Making

Cura Fundamentals

Learn the foundations of Cura for slicing 3D models ready for 3D Printing
Cura benchy.jpg

This module will form part of the 3D Printing Badge, to complete this module you will need:

  • A laptop
  • Access to the internet
  • A mouse (recommended)

Getting Started


What is Cura?

Cura is an open-source, free slicing software used to prepare files for 3D printing. Cura will open and read your 3D CAD drawn model (in the form of a .STL or .OBJ), slice it up into lots of layers and convert those layers to lines of code that become the instructions for the 3D printers to follow!

Let's Get Printing!

First step...download Cura!

Download Cura

Second Step...Download the Demo File

You will need this for the Digital Fabrication Induction!

Cura Slicing Demo File

Third Step... Download the UNSW Print Settings.

UNSW Ultimaker Print Settings

Normal Settings - Fast Detailed Settings - Slow

.1. When you first open Cura it will prompt you to set up a printer. Select the 'non-networked printers' drop-down menu.


Cura 1.PNG

2. The Design Futures Lab, Engineering and MCIC Makerspaces all have both Ultimaker 3's and Ultimaker s5's. Make sure you select the right printer before continuing as it will affect your model later on!

Cura 2.PNG

3. Once the printer has been chosen you will see it appear in the Cura window. To continue setting up Cura we will now add our setting profiles. Click on the print settings bar to open the menu.

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4. The print settings menu is where you can view and change settings such as print quality, infill percentage and supports. More information on customising these print settings can be found later in this module.

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5. Standard profiles have been created by makerspace staff for use in the 3D printers on campus. To load these profiles click on the drop-down arrow next to 'profiles'.

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6. Here you can view and select the default profiles as well as any other profiles you have created or imported. Click 'manage profiles' to proceed in loading our standard UNSW profiles.

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7. Select 'import' to open the UNSW profiles that you downloaded above.


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8. Navigate to where you have saved the profiles you downloaded above and select to import them into Cura

Cura 9.PNG

Time to start slicing!

Understanding Print Settings


FDM Cura Settings Guide-01.png
FDM Cura Settings Guide-02.png

Will It Or Won't It Print?


Some tips, tricks, advice to get the most out of your 3D printing experience!

Non-Manifold Edges or Unjoined Surfaces

This can be avoided by NOT USING SKETCHUP!

If working in Rhino ensure that your model is watertight and that all surface have been joined (see Rhino for 3D printing tutorial in the resources section).

When first opening the model in Cura, check for areas that flash blue or red. These are areas of the model that may be non-manifold.

cura faq2.PNG

Always check the preview before sending your file. Areas that have errors will become grey and will not print.

cura faq.PNG

Closed, Shelled Objects

When considering 3D printing you model, always check where supports will be needed. Supports that are built inside a shape such as the one below will not be removable due to the geometry.

Consider removing the base of your model so that supports can be removed from the bottom. Alternatively, consider laser cutting models that are hollow with simple geometry. It will be much faster!

Cura Supports Example
Cura Supports Example 2

Too Thin!

As a general rule, no parts of your model should be thinner than 1mm. Columns or extrusions are particularly tricky to print and so if you are planning on printing these features they need to be at least 2mm in diameter!

Because of the way these columns or extrusions get printed not only do the need to be at least 2mm in diameter, they shouldn't be too tall. Any taller than 50mm and they might start to distort and get very messy!

Cura Thin Example
Cura thin Example 2

Other Resources

There is a huge amount of knowledge and advice about 3D Printing out there in the world. Here are some of the better ones we have found.

CAD for 3D Modelling Learn Page

Fusion 360

3D Printing Learn Modules

3D Printers.jpg

3D Printing with Rhino

Rhino 3D Printing

Related Badges

Categories: Digital Fabrication
Tags: 3D Printing