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Best Ender 3 Cura Profile Settings for Perfect 3d Prints

Best Ender 3 Cura Profile Settings for Perfect 3d Prints

Creality’s Ender 3 series is a powerhouse 3D printer family that dominates the maker space owing to its affordability and ease of use for beginners. Even the most expensive printer requires manual calibration and could benefit from modifications, and the Ender 3 is no different. By tweaking the Cura profile settings that come stock with your printer, you can bring your prints from good to great.

This guide covers optimal Cura profile settings for all versions of the Ender 3 printer.

Getting started

Even considering the benefits of fine-tuning the Cura settings for your specific prints, the stock profile for the Ender 3 is a solid starting point.

To access the stock profile, select “Settings > Printer > Manage Printers.”

In the preferences box, select “Add > Add a non-networked printer.” Navigate to “Creality3D,” expand the section, and select “Ender 3” or “Ender 3 Pro.”

The default settings listed here are a good foundation for building your perfect profile as they’re designed for average prints on your printer. The recommendations discussed in this article will focus on PLA but includes information on ABS and PETG.

When starting to build your perfect profile, you’ll likely be using test prints to fine-tune these settings. If a test print isn’t perfect and you want to tune a specific setting, make sure to change only one setting a time.

Recommended Ender 3 PLA profile settings

  • Printing temperature: 200 °C
  • Speed: 50 mm/s
  • Bed temperature: 60 °C
  • Layer height: 0.12 mm
  • Retraction: 6 mm at 25 mm/s
  • Infill: 20%
  • Initial layer speed: 20 mm/s
  • Initial fan speed: 0%

Hot end temperature

When working with thermoplastics, it’s no secret that temperature is a crucial parameter for making sure that your prints are strong and clean. Incorrect temperature settings can lead to over- or under-extrusion, blemishes, and separation. Although the recommended settings for filaments vary among manufacturers, most PLA filaments require at least 180 °C for even extrusion but can stretch up to 220 °C.

Different materials have different temperature requirements (ABS: 220–250 °C, PETG: 220–245 °C). When trying a new filament, we recommend running a test print, such as a temperature tower. Most makers have had luck starting with 200 °C for PLA prints.

Recommended temperature settings

  • PLA: 200 °C
  • ABS: 230 °C
  • PETG: 240 °C

Speed

As much as we’d all love to have our prints complete within an hour, print speed can only be increased so much before compromising on print quality. As print speed increases, print quality tends to decline because there isn’t sufficient time for the filament to fuse according to the model file and the print nozzle moves too quickly to lay down fine details.

Generally, the optimal print speed for PLA lies between 45 and 65 mm/s. While there are third-party programs that are well-loved by makers for fine-tuning print settings, we recommend starting at a starting speed of 60 mm/s and decreasing the speed when working on finely detailed prints.

The optimal print speed for ABS tends to be similar to PLA, so the same setting can be used when switching from PLA to ABS. Flexible materials must be printed significantly slower, so lowering the print speed to 20 mm/s to 40 mm/s should improve the chance of obtaining a functional, detailed print.

Because PETG is slightly more stringy than PLA, a print speed of 30 mm/s to 55 mm/s is typically effective. For PETG, starting at a lower speed and increasing incrementally is best.

For larger prints that require less detail, the print speed can be increased up to 120 mm/s. At higher speeds, keep an eye on your layers to make sure no layer separation occurs.  

Recommend speed settings

  • PLA: 60 mm/s
  • Flexible materials (e.g. TPU): 30 mm/s
  • PETG: 40 mm/s
  • ABS: 60 mm/s
  • Travel speed: 150 mm/s

Bed temperature

Identifying the ideal bed temperature is important to ensure good adhesion and stability at the base of the print. PLA prints don’t require a heated bed, but a heated build platform is good for promoting adhesion. The bed temperature setting should always be higher than the ambient room temperature.

ABS requires much higher bed temperatures, usually around 110 °C. We strongly recommend setting up a print enclosure when working with ABS to maintain optimal print conditions throughout the print.

Recommend bed temperature settings

  • PLA: 50 °C
  • ABS: 110 °C
  • PETG: 70 °C

Layer height

Layer height is the single most important setting in relation to resolution. Lower layer heights translate to more highly detailed prints and vice versa. The printer deposits a greater number of smaller layers, which allows for greater detail in each pass.

While having more detail in a print is always great, low layer height settings also lead to high print times. To balance these parameters, there are a few “magic numbers” you’ll see recommended for layer height.

For the Ender 3 series, the magic layer height numbers are separated by increments of 0.04 mm due to the mechanism by which the Z-axis stepper motor moves in response to changes in layer height:

  • 0.24 mm
  • 0.20 mm
  • 0.16 mm
  • 0.12 mm
  • 0.08 mm

Recommended layer height settings

  • Fine detail, longer print time: 0.12 mm
  • Coarse detail, shorter print time: 0.20 mm

Retraction

Retraction refers to the process by which the printer pulls filament back after deposition to avoid leaking or oozing as the print head moves from the last point of the last layer to the beginning of the next layer.

Poor retraction settings are often to blame for stringing and uneven layer thicknesses. By setting the appropriate retraction distance and speed, you can reduce the risk of hot filament leaving the extruder until it is supposed to.

One of the most common complaints with the Ender 3 is stringing. To deal with this, users have come together to find the optimal retraction settings for PLA: 6 mm retraction distance at a speed of 25 mm/s.

PETG works best with a shorter retraction distance and similar speed, such as 4 mm. ABS benefits from a 6 mm retraction distance and a faster retraction of 40 mm/s. There are several retraction test prints that you can use to find the ideal temperature setting for your favorite filament type. We recommend using a test print that incorporates bridging and fine points to test the printer’s ability to achieve precision when moving the print head across larger distances.

Recommend retraction settings

  • PLA: 6 mm at 25 mm/s
  • PETG: 4 mm at 25 mm/s
  • ABS: 6 mm at 40 mm/s

Infill

Unlike the other settings covered in this guide, there isn’t a single perfect infill setting for most prints. Infill refers to the amount of filament used to develop the internal structure of the print, which gives it stability and strength.

For decorative prints, a lower infill of 5% or 10% is sufficient. Lower infill settings increase print time and produce a lightweight print.

For functional parts, such as tools or wearables, higher infill setting are best due to the increased strength and durability they give the print. Infill settings of 50% and up are preferred for these parts, while those that you expect to put under a lot of strain may even require 100% infill.

Recommended infill settings

  • Decorative prints: 0–15%
  • Standard prints: 15–30%
  • Functional prints: 50–100%

Initial layer

Similar to bed temperature settings, the initial layer settings are crucial for establishing a strong base that supports the rest of the print. Good initial layer settings prevent layer separation and shifting over the course of the print.

The initial layer height should be 0.20 or 0.24 mm to yield a thicker first layer, which improves bed adhesion. Users can set the number of initial layers to form the base of the print. We recommend five layers to start, but prints with more complicated bases may benefit from a higher number of first layers that can be removed in post-processing.

The initial layer speed should be slightly slower than your regular print speed to promote adhesion. Typically, a lower initial layer speed does not significantly affect the total print time.

An initial layer speed of 30 mm/s is generally sufficient for forming a good base. Slightly decrease this number if you find that your prints aren’t adhering to the bed. The initial fan speed should be set to 0% to avoid excessive cooling at the base of the print. If the layers are not holding their shape as you begin printing the remainder of the model, you can increase the initial fan speed in small increments.

Recommended initial layer settings

  • Initial layer height: 0.24 mm
  • Initial layer speed: 30 mm/s
  • Number of slower layers: 5
  • Initial fan speed: 0%
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