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Material selection in cura

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I have a UM 2 and am quite confused about cura: It has some default settings for print speed etc.

As far as I could find out, this is all for PLA.

Deep inside the printer settings there are some materials defined, but I could not find any way to select one of those for my object.

Is it correct that one cannot select any material, but instead should enter the correct values for speed etc.by myself? If yes, what are the material definitions in cura for? That makes no sense to me, there are materials, but I cannot select any for my objects.

Maybe someone can clear that up for me :-)

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The Ultimaker 2 introduced the concept of UltiGCode. The idea of UltiGCode was that you could slice once, and print with different materials which you select on the printer. By default, Cura uses this UltiGCode for the Ultimaker 2, so all material settings such as temperatures are not shown inside Cura because selecting them would conflict with what you select on the printer.

By the time the Ultimaker 2+ came around, Ultimaker had come to the realisation that very different materials really need very different slicing parameters. Not only the speeds you mention, but also eg the use of a raft for some materials. This was no longer something that the printer could fix on the fly, so materials in Cura were reintroduced for the Ultimaker 2+.

Go to the Printers pane of the preferences, and open the Machine Settings window. Once there, change the G-code Flavor to "Reprap (Marlin/Sprinter)". This should instantly give you materials, temperatures, etc (as well as support for printing with USB). Just know that these settings will override what you select on the printer.

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