Working with slicing programs like Cura can be a daunting task. You have many options to choose from and trial & error testing on your own takes quit a while. This is why we want to show you our tips & tricks when printing tabeltop terrain on your 3D printer.
Unfortunately there is no best cura profile. You have to weigh in quality, print speed, usage of material and other properties when setting up your print. A very light layer height will give you better results, but it will take much longer as well. There are some “hacks” out there to 100% fill your print to get better results. However this is highly unpractical when working with terrain pieces, because print times will skyrocket.
How good is good enough?
For me personally it comes down to the old saying “good enough is good enough”. Yes you will get better overall quality when going for smaller layer heights. Will you be able to really notice though? Remember, were we are looking for good 3D printer settings for terrain. After all we are playing tabletop wargames like Warhammer 40k or Age of Sigmar, and the terrain is meant to compliment the miniatures. As true passionate wargamers are, you probably love details and nicely painted miniatures as much as I do. But will you really be able to notice the minute differences when its all painted up?
So here is what to look for if you want a fast yet detailed quality 3D printed tabletop terrain:
1. Layer height
We are all familiar with this setting. Decreasing the layer height makes our print more detailed. However, with this option more ist not always better. I found that decreasing the layer height below 0.1mm will raise the print time to unreasonable levels at little benefit to quality. For the best results I recommend you go for a 0.1mm layer height. If the layers are bigger you will probably get trouble when drybrushing or washing your terrain.
2. Go slow
This seems to be an odd one because at first sight speed will not affect the accuracy of your printer. it will however affect the curing of the melted plastic and most importantly reduce the jerking of your printer. If you go slower, the print time will go up, however flat areas along the z-axis will be printed a lot smoother. The print profile has several settings for the speed. In Cura this is summarized with a single value. You can open up this option, though and set the speed values for different tpes of movement. It is important, that the shell movements are as slow as possible. The shell speed is what makes the surface area of the print smooth. Some printers tend to jerk on edges, while others go more smoothly. The other layers are also important though since the infill is connected to the shell layer, to high speeds can lead to distortions of the shell itself. Our Ender 3 CR10 works best with 25mm/s all around. This is basically the 50mm/s setting with reduced speed on every other movement types as well. You might have to test what works best with your printer though. In general, going slow on all settings seems to be the way to get the best results. Just dont go too slow, as your print will take too long.
Plate adhesion if often underestimated. But with tall and thin prints your print might tip during printing, ruining the entire object. So just add a brim adhesion to your print, and your print will not tip over. Also, you might have trouble with flat and wide objects as they are warping during pringt. A good plate adhesion eliminates the warping because the object will stick to the plate. Some people like printing on a clear glass bed, because it gives the bottom a really smooth surface. When printing Warhammer wargaming terrain you will be almost never looking at the bottom side of your prints, so this is absolutely irrelevant to us. We had the best results with a slightly perforated tempered glass plate. The adhesion is fantastic and you can still remove the prints very easily afterwards.
So, that is basically all you need to know, to print great wargaming terrain. You will get beautiful results with these setting and the prints will not take too long. Once you have the setting, that works for you, printable scenery is as comfortable as it gets.
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