Creality’s Ender 3 is perhaps the most popular 3D printer. It’s cheap, easy to use, and with great print quality straight out of the box.
Like any new printer, the low price point means the printer requires bed leveling and manual calibration. For seasoned makers, the Ender 3’s flexibility is a joy, with several dozen ways to upgrade the printer.
We’ll cover the best Cura settings for Ender 3, Ender 3 V2, and the Ender 3 Pro to get the most out of your prints.
Best Quality PLA Settings in Cura for Ender 3
- Print temperature: 200 °C
- Bed temperature: 50 °C
- Speed: 55 mm/s
- Layer height: 0.12 mm
- Infill: 20%
- Initial layer speed: 20 mm/s
- Initial layer height: 0.20 mm
- Initial fan speed: 0%
- Retraction: 6 mm at 25 mm/s
The hot end temperature is crucial for getting clean extrusion, preventing warping, and proper adhesion to the print bed and between layers. Trying to print with the wrong settings could produce over or under-extrusion, holes, zits, or blobs in your prints.
Most PLA filaments require a minimum of 180°C but can go as high as 220°C before over-extrusion becomes a problem.
Generally, we recommend 200°C for PLA, 230°C for ABS, and 240°C for PETG. However, the ideal printing temperature varies between brands of filament. It’s a good idea to start with the manufacturer’s recommendation and make changes as necessary.
You can always print a temperature tower when trying a new print.
Best hot-end temperature settings in Cura:
- PLA: 200°C
- ABS: 230°C
- PETG: 240°C
The bed temperature is essential for slowing the cooling process of your first layer, and allowing your print to adhere to the build surface.
Technically, you don’t need a heated bed to print PLA. Especially if you use adhesives like glue or painter’s tape.
We like to err on the safe side and use a heated build surface. It helps stick your prints to the print bed and reduces the number of failed prints.
When printing PLA, you should heat the bed higher than the room’s temperature. We recommend 50°C for PLA, but you can up it to 60°C if you notice a problem with build plate adhesion.
ABS requires significantly higher temperatures, around 110°C. Though if you’re printing with ABS, you’ll likely need to build an enclosure to prevent warping, splitting, and other issues.
Best bed temperature settings in Cura:
- PLA: 50 °C
- ABS: 110 °C
- PETG: 70 °C
Finding the ideal print speed balances print quality and total print time. Decreasing the print speed produces better prints, but you’ll have to wait longer for the prints to finish.
That’s because a slower-moving hot end is less likely to mess up and creates fewer vibrations which could impact print quality.
PLA can be printed with speeds between 45 mm/s and 65 mm/s. We recommend a balanced 55 mm/s for most prints. Large prints that don’t require fine details can be printed at 65 mm/s, while intricate prints should be printed closer to 45 mm/s.
You can increase print speed by utilizing OctoPrint and alternative firmware such as Klipper or Marlin.
Best print speed settings in Cura:
- PLA: 55 mm/s
- PETG: 40 mm/s
- ABS: 60 mm/s
- Travel speed: 150 mm/s
- TPU and other flexible materials: 30 mm/s
Layer height is the thickness of the individual layers in the print. This setting has perhaps the biggest impact on both speed and quality.
When you double the layer height, you’ll be able to print twice as fast but with half the print resolution. By cutting the layer height in half, your prints have twice the resolution but take twice as long to print.
Like print speed, choosing the right layer height balances print quality and total print time.
Layer height on the Ender 3 is broken down into 0.04 mm increments. That’s because the Z-axis stepper motor on the Ender 3 V2 and Pro models raised the hot end 0.04 mm with each step.
Your options for layer height include 0.08 mm, 0.12 mm, 0.16 mm, 0.20 mm, and 0.24 mm.
For detailed prints like miniatures and moving parts, we recommend a 0.12 mm layer height. If you’re in a hurry or don’t require fine details, set the layer height to 0.20 mm.
Best layer height settings in Cura:
- Detailed prints: 0.12 mm
- Quick prints: 0.20 mm
Your 3D printer infill settings affect both the strength and weight of your print. When choosing an infill, there’s no perfect setting. You’ll have to consider the purpose of the print.
High infill creates stronger prints but at the expense of longer print times and more filament. Lower infills produce faster prints with less filament but are more delicate and break easily.
Decorative prints can be printed with a low infill of 5% or 10%. The low infill decreases print time and results in a lighter print. If the object is purely decorative, it doesn’t need the strength properties of higher infill settings.
For functional parts, you’ll want to increase the infill pattern. You may need to up the infill to 50% or more for strength and durability. Some parts may require 100% infill.
Printing with higher infill creates longer printing times, significantly increasing the finished print’s weight.
There’s no one size fits all approach to determining infill. You might need to play around with the different options until you develop a feel for what works.
Best infill settings in Cura:
- Decorative: 0-15%
- Standard: 15-30%
- Functional: 30%+
The first layer of your print is crucial for achieving good print quality. The right settings ensure your prints stick to the bed and create a solid foundation for your print.
At its core, the first layers should be printed at a thicker layer height and at a slower speed than the rest of the print. The thicker layers provide a better foundation, and the slower print speed allows the first few layers more time to adhere to the build plate.
We also want to turn off the cooling fan. It’s important that the first layers cool slowly to prevent warping and shrinking. Without turning off the cooling fan, the first layers could cool too quickly and pop off the build plate.
We recommend setting a speed of 20 mm/s and an initial layer height of 0.20 mm or 0.24 mm for the first five layers. The slower print speed won’t impact the total print time on most prints, especially when combined with thicker layer lines.
Best initial layer settings in Cura:
- Initial layer height: 0.20 mm or 0.24 mm
- Initial layer speed: 20 mm/s
- Number of slower layers: 5
- Initial fan speed: 0%
Retraction is a tool that reverses the filament extrusion during travel, relieving pressure on the nozzle. There shouldn’t be any excess filament extruded while the printer head is traveling.
Incorrectly setting the retraction can damage your print or your 3D printer. If the retraction is too short, the filament could flow out of the nozzle and create “stringing” in your prints. If the retraction is too long, it could jam the extruder head.
There are two main components to retraction, retraction distance and retraction speed.
When printing PLA on a Creality Ender 3, setting the retraction distance to 6 mm at a speed of 25 mm/s works best.
For ABS, keep the same 6 mm retraction distance but at a speed of 40mm/s. PETG works better with a lower retraction distance of 4 mm at the same 25 mm/s retraction speed.
You might need to play around with the retraction settings before landing on the perfect combination. Play around with the Basic Retraction Test from Thingiverse, and let us know what settings work for you.
Best retraction settings in Cura:
- PLA: 6 mm at 25 mm/s
- ABS: 6 mm at 40 mm/s
- PETG: 4 mm at 25 mm/s