The Cura software can be downloaded from Ultimaker for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Upon finishing the installation you will be asked to select a printer. Select Ultimaker 2.
The Cura window
- In the center, you can see a representation of the printing bed and model if loaded where you can inspect, move, rotate, and scale your object before printing.
- Above this area, you will find 3 icons on the left and 1 on the right. The icons on the left allow you to load, save, or share your object. The icon on the right allows you to visualize your object in printed layers and predict printing problems. Using these views is advisable before saving a Gcode file. On top you will also find several menus. You can print most objects using the quick print view (shown). In rare occasions, you will have to switch to full settings under Expert / Switch to full settings.
- On the right, you can select the print quality and add support if you model has overhangs. Watch out for those using the top right icon and Overhangs or Layers.
- Drag your STL onto Cura.
- Adjust the size by clicking on the model and then pressing the middle button appearing at the bottom. A bigger model means significantly longer print times.
- Rotate the model to minimize overhangs and reduce support.
- Check whether your model is likely to print well by clicking on the hourglass icon at the top right (View Mode / Layers). The software will then churn a while to generate the exact nozzle paths per layer. Use the slider to move through the layers starting from the bottom. Watch out for parts that appear in mid air.
- If your model has overhangs activate the Print support structure setting.
- Choose Normal print for detail or Fast print to save time. You will hardly notice the difference between normal and higher quality prints except for the additional print time. So, stay with fast or normal.
- Insert an SD card an save your model to the card. You are ready to print.
Stick with the quick print settings above if there's no pressing reason not to, since you can easily screw up your print with the advanced settings. Find below what a few of the parameters, in order of importance, do:
- Under Support type you can add scaffolding to go under overhangs that could not be printed otherwise. For some models like Bax shown above you need to set this to Everywhere because the model requires support also to be printed onto the model itself to support overhangs that are not directly above the build plate.
- Platform adhesion is helpful if your material does not stick reliably to the print surface. For the Ultimaker2 this is rarely the case. See this tutorial for adhesion.
- Allows you to control the fill percentage of your object and the thickness of your bottom and top layer. Fill and thickness increase the mechanical resistance of the object, material consumption, and print time. Standard settings are fine for most objects. For stronger models go up to 30% filling and a thickness equivalent to 5 layers.
- Allows you to control the thickness of a single printed layer. Finer layers lead to better resolution but dramatically increase print time. It also allows you to control the size of the outside wall of the object. Use a multiple of the extruder nozzle size - x2 to x3 is enough.
- Faster printing leads to more errors but also less printing time. Very detailed models occasionally need to be printed more slowly to produce a good resolution. The default is fine for most prints.
- Note that on the Ultimaker temperature is normally controlled by the type of filament you set up not by the Gcode that you produce with Cura. We mostly print with PLA which requires a nozzle temperature of 210°C. ABS is often printed at 230°C.