Ultimaker Cura’s Vase Mode allows you to create seamless prints with smooth, continuous lines. Officially called “Spiralize Outer Contour,” Vase Mode transforms your 3D models into stunning single-walled objects, perfect for decorative items like vases, lampshades, and containers.

When activated, Vase Mode guides your printer to extrude a single, unbroken line of filament from the base upwards, spiraling to form the object’s outer shell. This continuous motion eliminates the Z seam, creating a flawless surface finish.

But it’s not all good. There are several downsides that limit the application of Vase Mode.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Cura Vase mode to help you make the most of this unique setting in your 3D printing applications.

What is Cura Vase Mode?

A grid pattern vase printed in blue pla using Cura Vase mode

Cura Vase Mode is a special feature that allows you to create seamless, single-walled prints. It’s under the “Special Modes” tab, listed as “Spiralize Outer Contour.” Simply check the box to enable Vase Mode for your model.

Vase Mode instructs your printer to extrude a single continuous line of filament. The printing line starts at the base and spirals upwards, gradually building the object’s outer wall in a smooth, uninterrupted motion.

Unlike regular 3D printing, where one layer builds upon the next, Vase Mode instructs your print head to continue printing without stopping and starting. As a result, this setting eliminates the Z seam.

As a bonus, I often find that Vase Mode nearly eliminates layer lines. Objects printed with spiralized outer contours have much smoother surfaces compared to traditional 3D printing.

You’ll want to ensure your model has a continuous geometry without breaks, gaps, or holes. Objects like lampshades, vases, and cylinders work best with this slicer setting.

Benefits

1. Improved Aesthetics: Vase Mode’s primary advantage is its flawless surface finish. By eliminating layer seams, your print will have smooth, continuous walls.

2. Material Efficiency: Vase Mode uses significantly less filament than standard printing modes because it only prints the outer shell of the object.

3. Time-Saving: Vase mode doesn’t print infill or inner layers, resulting in significant time savings.

Downsides

Close up of the thin walls caused by using Vase Mode without the proper line width
This vase shows a defect of using Cura Vase mode. The thin allow light and water to pass through.
  1. Limited Structural Integrity: Prints created in Vase Mode are significantly weaker and less durable than standard prints. That’s because Vase Mode only prints the outermost shell of a model, reducing the support material that gives an object its strength.
  2. Size Limitations: Larger prints in Vase Mode can struggle with structural stability, especially if the design is tall or has a large diameter. This limitation became very apparent when people created massive vases using the Elegoo Orange Storm Giga.
  3. Design Constraints: Vase Mode is suitable only for models with a continuous, uninterrupted outer surface. You can’t enable vase mode for complex geometries with overhangs, gaps, or multiple walls.
  4. Single Item Printing: You can only print one model at a time when vase mode is enabled. Without retractions or breaks in extrusion, you can’t print multiple items.

When to Use It?

A white 3D printed geometric vase

Vase Mode in Cura is best used for simple, non-functional objects with a continuous, uninterrupted outer surface.

Common uses for vase mode include:

  • Vases
  • Bowls
  • Containers
  • Lampshades
  • Light covers
Editor’s Tip

Because the outer walls are so thin, Vase Mode is perfect for making lampshades. The walls are thin enough to allow light to pass through.

Settings

A screen shot showing how to enable vase mode in cura by checking the spiralize spiral contour option under the special modes tab

You must adjust several important slicer settings to optimize your print when using Vase Mode in Cura. Here’s a list of key settings and how to adjust them:

  1. Spiralize Outer Contour: Activates Vase Mode by enabling continuous spiral printing. Go to Print Settings > Special Modes > Spiralize Outer Contour and check the box to enable it.
  2. Smooth Spiralized Contours: Ensures a smooth extrusion path for the outer contour. Located directly under the Spiralize Outer Contour option, ensure this is enabled.
  3. Wall Line Width: This controls the thickness of the printed lines. Higher line widths create stronger prints. The value is usually the same as the nozzle diameter you’re using. But you can go as high as 150% of the nozzle diameter. For a standard 0.4 mm nozzle, a common setting is 0.6 mm for increased stability. You can also swap to a nozzle with a wider diameter for better structural integrity.
  4. Print Speed: While not specific to Vase Mode, print speed is an essential setting to tweak. You want to print much slower than normal to give printed layers time to cool before the next layer is added. A speed of 20-30 mm/s is a good starting point.
  5. Temperature: You must use a slightly higher print temperature to help your nozzle push out more filament. Higher temperatures provide better flow rates required for printing quickly.