Slice Settings Explained - Part 3
This is the final chapter in our series explaining all the various slice settings found in MatterControl. Unleash the full potential of your 3D printer and get exactly the results you’re looking for!
In Part 1, we covered some of the basic of MatterControl. You can view it here if you missed it.
Part 2 covered the some more in depth features you might commonly run into.
Part 3 covers more of the advanced rarely used features.
We’re going to jump right into the settings that are more advanced and you should not normally need to change.
- Bottom Clip – There used to be a setting that would cut off the bottom of a part, you can now just lover a part down under the bed and it will start printing at the bed height.
- Perimeters – This is the number of perimeters in the X/Y direction. Another way to think of it is the number of “walls” your part has. This can be specified either in count or in measurement. In order to specify a thickness you must add “mm”. So, for example, if you enter “2” into the box, you will get 2 perimeters. With a .4mm nozzle this will be give you walls approximately .8mm thick. If you put “2mm” in the box, with a .4mm nozzle, you will get approximately 5 perimeters equaling 2mm. Two (2) or Three (3) is a good starting point.
- Avoid Crossing Perimeters – When enabled, this will cause the hot end to only cross perimeters of your part when absolutely necessary. This can significantly improve the surface finish of your part by reducing stringing and other extrusion artifacts. We recommend enabling this for all prints.
- Spiral Vase – This can be found in the Print Menu under Advanced. When selected, object will print with 0 infill, and 0 top layers and 1 perimeter. The perimeter is a single extrusion – with no starts and stops – and spirals up to the top of the print. You can still specify the desired number of solid bottom layers.
As you might have guessed, this is the preferred setting for printing vases or other single-walled objects.
- External Perimeters First – Normally, the innermost perimeter prints first. Then the next innermost perimeter, etc. until the outer perimeter is printed. Then infill is printed. When this setting is enabled, it prints the outermost perimeter first. Then inner perimeters and then infill. This can be useful for parts that require more precise dimensional accuracy, but can leave a less smooth/clean outer print surface.
- Top Solid Layers – This allows you to specify the thickness of the top of your print. Like perimeters, it can be a number or a measurement. It’s important to note that the thinner your layer height, the more solid top layers you will need to seal up the top of your print. For 0.2mm layers, 3-5 solid top layers usually provide good results. For 0.1mm, you may need 9-10 to get the same coverage.
- Bottom Solid Layers – The same as solid top layers, but obviously for the bottom of your print. The main difference is that it generally requires fewer solid bottom layers to “seal” your part.
- Starting Angle – This setting changes the orientation of the infill in your part. This is very rarely changed/used, but if you have an area of your part that isn’t getting infilled the way you want, you can adjust this. Standard is 45 degrees. You can see the difference in the orientation between 0 degrees and 45 degrees below
- Infill Overlap – This setting allows you to specify the amount your infill will overlap your perimeters. The default setting for most machines is .06mm. This ensures that your infill is attached to your part so that it is strong. If you find your infill to not be attached well at .06mm, it’s best to check to ensure your extruder is calibrated properly before adjusting this setting. Too much of an overlap can cause blobs or other artifacts on the surface of your print.
- Under speed you can adjust the speeds for each of the various moves made during a print. It’s important to note that the speeds entered in these fields are not the actual speeds your printer is moving at any given time. These are the maximum speeds that are allowed for the various movements. Your printer’s hardware and firmware supersede these values. So, for example, if your particular machine has a maximum movement speed of 150mm/s, and you enter 200mm/s for the Travel Speed, you will be limited to 150mm/s by the firmware.They are mostly self-explanatory, but we’ll quickly go over each of the speed settings
- Infill – the speed that the infill is printed. This can generally be printed faster than the perimeters
- Raft – if you enable a raft, this is the speed it prints at. Even though the raft prints before anything else, it is not affected by First Layer Speed.
- Inside Perimeters – if you have more than 1 perimeter, this is the speed the inner perimeters will print. These are not visible when the print is finished. They can generally be printed faster than Outer Perimeters, but should probably be slightly slower than Infill.
- Outside Perimeters – Perhaps the most important speed setting. This is the speed for the outermost perimeter which is what you see and feel when a print is complete. We recommend printing slow – 20-40mm/s. It doesn’t add much print time to print slow outside perimeters, but can significantly improve print quality and surface finish.
- Support Material – speed for support material, if enabled. Equal to or slightly slower than Infill speed is a good starting point.
- Bridges – This is the speed when printing between two “islands”. It’s perhaps the trickiest feature to print well as it’s highly dependent on material, temperature, distance, nozzle diameter, and layer thickness. Some materials print better with slow bridge speeds and some print better quickly. We recommend starting with your Outside Perimeter speed and adjusting based on results.
- Travel – The speed of whenever your hot end is moving without extruding filament.
- First Layer Speed – The first layer typically requires slower than normal print speeds for best bed adhesion. 10-20mm/s is a good range to start.
Skirt and Raft
- Minimum Extrusion Length – this allows you to specify a minimum amount of filament to be extruded for the skirt. This takes precedence over the number of loops. So, for example, if you specified 3 skirt loops with a minimum extrusion length of 20mm, if 3 skirt loops is not at least 20mm, it will continue to generate loops until 20mm is reached. It’s important to note that this is not the length of extruded filament, but the length that passes through the extruder (cold end). Typically, there isn’t need for more than 1 or 2mm.
- Expand Distance – This is the distance the raft extends out past the outer X/Y bounds of your part. If you are printing a 25mm cube and specify 5mm for the Expand Distance, your raft will be a 35mm cube – 5mm in each direction. The larger the raft, the better your bed adhesion. 5-7mm is a good starting point.
- Air Gap – the ideal raft provides good bed adhesion while printing and then easily peels off once finished. The Air Gap determines how easy it is to peel the raft off your part. Too much of a gap and your part may not stick well to the raft. Too little, and the raft will be very difficult to remove. Material, nozzle diameter, and layer height all affect the results. A good starting point is ½ your nozzle diameter. So, if you have a .4mm nozzle, start with a 0.2mm Air Gap. In general, materials with excellent interlayer adhesion – like nylon and ninjaflex – require a larger air gap.
- Fan Speed – if you have a layer cooling fan, you can specify the speed during raft printing
- Raft Extruder – if you have a dual extruder machine, you can specify which extruder you want to print the raft with.
- Amount – This allows you to set the overhang angle threshold, over which support material will be generated. 0 is none, 90 is all. There is a drop-down menu with presets of – Minimum(20), Standard (45), and All (90). Typically, Standard produces best results, but you can lower it if support is generating under overhangs that don’t require support.
- X and Y Distance – specify the distance between your support material and your part in the X/Y axes. A larger distance will allow for easier removal of support material, but may leave some areas of overhang without support.
- Support Interface Extruder – if you have dual extruders, you can specify which extruder you want to print Interface layers with
- Wipe Shield Distance – if you are printing a dual extrusion print, the extruder that is not printing can ooze. The Wipe shield is essentially a skirt around your part that prints as tall as your part and allows your nozzles to prime and wipe before moving to the printed part. This can help reduce the amount of stringing/oozing or other artifacts left by the 2nd extruder. The Wipe Shield Distance is the distance between your printed part and the wipe shield. The larger the distance, the more time for oozing to occur when moving between the two. Because it’s a single layer thick, however, it’s possible for the wipe shield to detach from the bed. If the distance is too close, the shield could contact your part if it detaches and cause failure. 5-7mm is a good starting point.
- Wipe Tower Size – a wipe tower provides the same function as the wipe shield, but instead of a skirt around your part, it prints a tower off to the side of your part. 10mm would print a tower with a 10 x 10mm footprint. Each layer alternates extruders. The tower will be as tall as your part. 10mm is a good starting point.
That covers all the Advanced View settings under the “General” tab. Next is the “Filament” Tab
- Length on Tool Change – if you have multiple extruders, this is the amount retracted when changing extruders
- Extra Length on Restart – when you retract filament, the same amount is extruded when you begin extruding. So, if you retract 3mm, when you move to the new print location, 3mm is extruded before printing resumes. Retraction reduces the pressure in the melt zone and depending on your hot end, the nozzle may not be primed properly after a retraction. Extra length on restart will extrude more filament in an attempt to re-prime the nozzle after a retraction. The default is 0. Adding extra length here may result in blobbing or other artifacts if not needed.
- Minimum Travel Requiring Retraction – this allows you to specify the minimum travel distance before a retraction is performed. This is very useful on small parts or parts with a lot of retractions in a small area. Your Travel Speed will affect this setting and its effectiveness, but in general, 8-10mm is a good starting point.
- Minimum Extrusion Requiring Retraction – like the minimum travel, but this threshold is based on the amount of extruded filament. This is also useful on small parts or on parts with a lot of retractions in a small area. Because the hot end needs to re-prime after retractions, very small areas may not print well because there may not be enough time to re-prime the nozzle. This setting supersedes the minimum travel. So, if you specify 10mm for the minimum travel, and .5mm for the minimum extrusion, at least .5mm of filament must be extruded on the next printing moves in order for a retraction to be performed – no matter how far away the hot end needs to move. 0.5mm is a good starting point for this setting on machines with 1.75mm filament.
- First Layer – allows you to specify the first layer extrusion width – either in mm or % of nozzle diameter. If you are having bed adhesion issues, it can sometimes be helpful to over-extrude a bit on the first layer in order to get better adhesion. Over-extruding can throw off the accuracy of your print, so it’s best to properly calibrate your bed and Z-height before changing this value.
- Support Material – allows you to specify the extrusion width of support material. Over-extruding support material can provide a sturdier support structure, but may be more difficult to remove and will consume more filament. If a part requires a lot of support, you can slightly under-extrude by specifying a size slightly smaller than your nozzle diameter in order to consume less filament. It’s best to start at 0 and adjust according to results.
- Bridging Fan Speed – if you have a layer cooling fan, you can adjust the fan speed when bridging.
- Disable Fan for the First – allows you to specify when the fan turns on during your print. Generally, for materials that require layer cooling, it’s a good idea to disable for the first layer in order to ensure good bed adhesion.
- Slow Down If Layer Print Time Is Below - if a part is printing too quickly too cool down before beginning the next layer, you can specify a threshold, in seconds, that will slow down the print in order to allow it to cool. 20 seconds is a good starting point.
- Minimum Print Speed – if Slow Down is enabled, this is the minimum speed. This does not affect speeds if the Slow Down time is not engaged. So, if your Slow Down time is set to 10 seconds, Minimum Print Speed is set to 15mm/s, Outer Perimeters speed is set to 8mm/s, and the current layer will take 30 seconds to print, the Outer Perimeter will still print at 8mm/s.
- Enable Extruder Lift –when enabled, it will lift the extruder off the part if the layer time is below the Slow Down Time setting. We generally do not recommend enabling this feature because it can negatively affect print quality, but it can be useful in very specific instances.
That covers all of the Filament settings in the Advanced View. The Printer tab is not visible in either the Standard or the Basic view mode. Before we proceed, it’s important to note that changing some of these settings can cause damage to your 3D printer if done improperly. Do not make changes if you are uncertain of what you are doing. We do not take any responsibility for damage that occurs due to improper settings.
- You can specify the bed size, print center, build height, and bed shape in this section. For Bed Size and Print Center, the box on the left is the X value, and the box on the right is the Y value. Changes made here will be reflected in the 3D Preview window. If your printer was pre-loaded in MatterControl, these should not need to be adjusted.
- Z Offset – if your machine uses a bed probe, the Z Offset is used to compensate for the distance between the probe and the nozzle. Improperly changing this can cause your nozzle to crash into the glass. Do not adjust unless you are sure of what you are doing.
- If you are configuring a printer that does not have a pre-loaded configuration in MatterControl, you can enable or disable specific features in this window – like a Layer Cooling fan or a heated bed. You can also add a 2nd extruder here. If you upgrade your machine with a 2nd extruder, simply change “Extruder Count” to 2 and the 2nd extruder options will appear on the other settings tabs.
- This area allows you to add custom G-code to various actions or instances. Do not insert G-Code, especially into the Start and End, unless you are sure of what you are adding. Look for an upcoming short article on some examples for custom g-code.
- Nozzle Diameter – if you have a hot end with interchangeable nozzles, like the E3D, this is where you specify the nozzle you’re using.
- Extruder Offset – If you have dual extruders and the extruder offset isn’t already in your firmware, you can set it here
That’s it! We made it through all of the settings in MatterControl. You now have all the information needed to become a master printer. While it may seem a bit overwhelming, it won’t take long to start understanding how each of the settings affects your prints. The best way to get good at printing is to just start printing. If you’re unsure of anything, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to help.
As always, Happy Printing!