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Cura Tutorials

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The program itself isn't difficult to use, the complexity comes in tweaking parameters to suit your prints. To get pointers on the latter I suggest browsing through the forum as there's lots of information on that subject to be found. There is no "ultimate setting" that works for every model, personal experience and reading what has worked for others will get you on the right path.

But yes, go ahead and install it and play around with it. By switching to layer view (top right corner) you can see what the individual layers will look like. You'll also want to switch into "Expert mode" to expose more settings.

 

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The program itself isn't difficult to use, the complexity comes in tweaking parameters to suit your prints. To get pointers on the latter I suggest browsing through the forum as there's lots of information on that subject to be found. There is no "ultimate setting" that works for every model, personal experience and reading what has worked for others will get you on the right path.

But yes, go ahead and install it and play around with it. By switching to layer view (top right corner) you can see what the individual layers will look like. You'll also want to switch into "Expert mode" to expose more settings.

 

Thank you for your response.

So Cura is basically the interface for the actual printer?

I assume in that case you have to use Cura as the final step, regardless of which 3D editing program you use to create the actual design - Cura takes that design and places it into a format that the printer then works from?

 

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cura is what is called a "slicer". It takes your model and slices it up into thin, well, slices and then figures out what the printer needs to do in order to fill each layer with plastic that matches that slice. So yes, it's the last stop before printing but I wouldn't call it the interface to the printer though for a couple of reasons.

You can use cura to connect to the printer and use it to print. However, if you're using the latest Ultimaker2 this is not advised nor officially supported. The UM2 reads the GCode commands that cura (or some other slicer) produces from an SD card for reliability. Some people have had issues with printing via USB due to various reasons so for the UM2 they decided to drop support for that.

 

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You can use other slicers with the UM or UM2 just fine. And Cura works with other 3d printers. But it's strongly recommended to start with Cura as it is easy and is customized a little for the UM machines.

Try it. It's free and you can learn a lot by playing with it. Get an STL model from thingiverse.com or youmagine.com if you don't have any.

 

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cura is what is called a "slicer". It takes your model and slices it up into thin, well, slices and then figures out what the printer needs to do in order to fill each layer with plastic that matches that slice. So yes, it's the last stop before printing but I wouldn't call it the interface to the printer though for a couple of reasons.

You can use cura to connect to the printer and use it to print. However, if you're using the latest Ultimaker2 this is not advised nor officially supported. The UM2 reads the GCode commands that cura (or some other slicer) produces from an SD card for reliability. Some people have had issues with printing via USB due to various reasons so for the UM2 they decided to drop support for that.

 

Sorry, what I meant as the final step was that Cura is the last thing you use before printing - printing via SD Card suits me better then direct printing anyway, means I don't have to leave my laptop on for hours while it prints!

So the general workflow is:

3D Editor -> Cura -> SD Card -> UM2.

 

You can use other slicers with the UM or UM2 just fine. And Cura works with other 3d printers. But it's strongly recommended to start with Cura as it is easy and is customized a little for the UM machines.

Try it. It's free and you can learn a lot by playing with it. Get an STL model from thingiverse.com or youmagine.com if you don't have any.

 

I've been checking out those sites, and the content looks amazing!

I have a few ideas of stuff I want to print though, so want to learn how to model in 3D as I go along. Am I able to take a model from one of the above sites, and then do further work to it, or are they locked for editing and only available for direct printing??

Sorry, I guess I should go to the site and find out for myself - its the laziness coming out in me again! lol

 

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Am I able to take a model from one of the above sites, and then do further work to it,

 

Yes. Most models are in STL format which you can import into most CAD programs and edit. STL is not the best as it doesn't store all the original design information but it is usually okay. For example the original cad may have many parts grouped seperately so you can easily move them, delete some of them, change the size of just part of the model and so on. With STL it's just one big model. One color.

Some of the models also include original cad files which is great if you have that particular cad program.

 

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Yes. Most models are in STL format which you can import into most CAD programs and edit. STL is not the best as it doesn't store all the original design information but it is usually okay. For example the original cad may have many parts grouped seperately so you can easily move them, delete some of them, change the size of just part of the model and so on. With STL it's just one big model. One color.

Some of the models also include original cad files which is great if you have that particular cad program.

 

So I wouldn't be able to import a STL file into a CAD application and make changes or develop it further??

I understand you can delete and move separate parts around, but what if I wanted to add an extra arm of something, for example?

 

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You can do it. When I said "yes" I meant "yes". You *can* take an STL file from thingiverse and import it into *almost* any cad software and then do as many edits as you want.

When the model is a gear, this is easy.

When the model has 1 million triangles, it's not so easy. If you have really good expensive software like solidworks you can do boolean operations and mix two models together. Also there is lots of free software out there to do things like add an arm to the top of a rabbits head. Autodesk has some free 3d printing software that does lots of great stuff like this. Autodesk has quite a few free applications geared towards 3d printing. I'm not sure how useful they are - I'm a bit skeptical. They seem a little buggy to me. But the answer to your question is "Yes, you can edit these models".

 

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And the difference between the STL and the original is that the STL is "static", like a snap shot of the model at time of export. Goofy analogy incoming...

Say you build a pyramid with snowballs (told you it was goofy), now spray water on it and let it freeze solid. What do you do if you want to remove the top snowball? You have to hack it away. But, if you wanted to remove it before the water and freezing you could just pick it up and be done.

 

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An STL file is made up of nothing but coordinates for the corners of triangles that cover the outside of whatever object it represents. There's no extra info about how those triangles relate or what surface they sit on.

If you have a more 'organic' shape, like a sculpture, then those are fairly easy to import in STL form and then continue to edit with sculpting programs, because the exact finished dimensions and surfaces are less likely to be critical. You're normally just grabbing part of the surface and pulling or pushing it, and letting everything else reflow accordingly.

For more engineered parts, with flat surfaces and precise positions, it's a lot harder to get good results. You want to edit groups of triangles together as a single 'surface' without affecting other nearby triangle or edges. Arguably it's still one of the great challenges of CAD modeling, that is becoming more critical as 3D printing becomes mainstream. What a CAD package might originally create and store as a simple cube of a certain edge length, could possibly get converted into tens, or thousands, of individual triangles covering the surface, when exported as an STL. There's nothing in the STL to indicate which triangle make up each surface, or which edges of which triangles constitute the 'edges' of the original cube.

As such, it's hard to make engineering edits such as extending a face, or cutting away part of the shape. You have to hope that your CAD package is able to identify which triangles go together to make the surfaces and edges of the underlying object, if you want to edit it at the object level. The degree to which CAD packages can do this varies with the package. Some do it better, some do it worse, some not at all. For something like a cube, it's not too difficult (although bear in mind that for humans, it's a lot easier since we can just look at the resulting shape and know that it's a cube, and hence that we need to assemble all the triangles into 6 identical faces. For a machine, that just sees lots and lots of coordinates, and has no prior knowledge what shape the points assemble into, its trickier). Once you get less simple cases, with curved faces, chamfered and rounded edges, shapes that intersect one another etc, reassembling the triangles into larger geometric surfaces that can be edited in a CAD tool becomes a lot harder.

 

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Thank you very much guys - nice, quick, informative replies!

Learning something new all the time!!

Will look into some 3D modelling applications and have a play!

 

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