Ultimaker Cura 5.0


Ultimaker Cura 5.0

Ultimaker has announced the latest version of Cura: Cura 5.0! The new version offers a lot of advantages such as higher print quality with finer details and stronger part production in less time.

The slicing engine is the most important part of the software. As it is known, a slicing engine is what transforms a 3D model into G-code and prepares it to be printed. Ultimaker 5.0 offers a new slicing engine with an important feature: variable line width. Sliced files used to use a consistent line width that depends on the nozzle diameter and the setting. Basically, if less noticeable lines are desired, a smaller nozzle was used and vice versa. So, if part of the print was two and a half lines thick, two lines would occur which led to a gap between them. This resulted in errors and inconsistent lines, and thus there were many gaps in a printed part. Because of this, printing took a much longer time and caused vibrations and noise.

Cura 5.0 offers a new slicing engine that unlocks variable line widths. The extremely fine details used to be omitted by the slicer as it was not possible to print them successfully. Ultimaker Cura 5.0 solves this problem with its new slicing engine. In the new version, the width of lines is adjusted, so there are no uneven lines. As a result, parts are much stronger and have finer details. Furthermore, thanks to increased toolpath efficiency, print time also improved. The new slicing engine allows us to improve print profiles, thus printing them faster. Printing time can now be reduced up to 20%. Also, there are fewer gaps between the lines as they are increased and are thinner, giving way to stronger parts.

To find out more, watch the recent Ultimaker showcase where Ultimaker Cura 5.0 was announced:  ultimaker

Setting up the Layer Height in a BCN3D Printer

Setting up the Layer Height in a BCN3D Printer

The first step of 3D printing is called slicing, where the model is transformed by the software into a number of layers via G&M code. In this process, you can set up the necessary changes according to what you are looking for in the model. Speed, temperature, strength, infill, printing time and many different settings can be applied. However, 3D print layer height is the most important in terms of quality and printing time.

• 3D printing layer height

First of all, it is important to understand the working principle of 3D printing. A spool of filament, generally a plastic filament, goes through a hot end and melts at a temperature between 190º and 270º. This molten filament is then transferred to the printing surface in the shape of the first layer, which was divided by the slicer earlier. The fan in the tool head cools the layers down and the next layer is printed. This process repeats itself until the printing is done.

The actual height of each of these layers is called the layer height. You can set up the height on the slicer and it can be altered according to your needs.

• The impact of the hot end size on the layer height

As mentioned before, the hot end melts the filament and transfers it to the printing surface. A hot end consists of three parts: the heak sink, the thermal block and the nozzle. Basically, the filament enters the hot end through the heak sink, melts in the thermal block and goes out of the hot end through the nozzle. The change happens in the nozzle. The nozzle sizes range from 0.4 millimetres to 1 millimetre, which depends on the filament coming out of the nozzle.

So, the bigger the nozzle size, the more material there will be. As a result, 3D print layer height increases.

• Altering the print quality by tweaking the 3D print layer height

The higher the layer height, the fewer layers there will be on the model. However, the layers will be bigger and much more visible, which means the print quality will not be as good. So, the layer height and print quality are inversely proportional. In this case, if we decrease the layer height, there will be more layers. Thus, the layers will be less visible, increasing print quality. However, the layer height cannot be altered freely. There is a recommended maximum layer height, which is half the nozzle size. This prevents us from depositing more filament than necessary. The recommended minimum layer height is quarter the nozzle size.

• Altering the printing time by tweaking the layer height

When the layer height is decreased, the number of layers increases. Then, there will be more printed layers and the printing time will increase and vice versa. If there are less layers, it will take less time.

To get more information on BCN3D printers, check out this link

Jigs and Fixtures

Jigs and Fixtures

When assembling a product, we can’t often use off-the-shelf tools during product development. It is through custom jigs and fixtures that help us get repeatable work. Custom jigs and fixtures can be adjustable, or specifically designed for a certain part, which makes production easier, faster and more accurate. However, producing these jigs and fixtures via traditional manufacturing methods might be expensive and time-consuming. Traditional methods are 100 times more expensive than 3D printing these jigs and fixtures, and much faster. 3D printing helps reach the final design faster, making it easier for engineers to print replicas, thus minimising lead times.

Ford’s engineers in Cologne produced a tool that they can hook at the back of the car, enabling them to position badges and emblems quickly. This tool was 3D printed with tough PLA in two parts on the Ultimaker s5 and glued together later on.

Volkswagen Autoeuropa’s engineers in Portugal developed a wheelgun jig, which helps them to place their wheelgun into the wheel. The part was 3D printed in multiple parts so that it can be quickly replaced in case of damage.

Traditionally, it takes a very long time to attach the pedal to a bicycle as one has to tighten it manually using a wrench. eBike Manufacturing 3D printed a tool using polycarbonate, which fits perfectly around the pedal and holds the nut in place. The pedal can be attached in less than a minute with the help of a drill.

At Ultimaker, several tools, jigs, and fixtures are 3D printed on Ultimaker 3D printers. The main axis of an Ultimaker 3D printer is connected to its motors via sliding blocks. Ultimaker uses a custom-designed pressure fixture that helps assemble the sliding blocks. This tool is 3D printed from XSTRAND™ GF30 PA6 (nylon with 30% glass fiber) which provides strength. It is combined with Ultimaker TPU 95A, which is a soft and flexible material, protecting the sliding block from any type of damage.

Factories may subject jigs and fixtures to high stress or temperature. So, it is important to choose the correct material. Ultimaker provides an open filament system, which offers a variety of industrial-grade materials from any brand, including industrial plastics, carbon, steel, or glass-fibre reinforced filaments. Therefore, you are provided with strong, tough, high-temperature resistant, flexible, rigid materials to choose from. Also, it is possible to have custom-designed filaments specifically designed for your requirements.

With Ultimaker’s dual extrusion 3D printers, it is possible to combine many materials. Many companies prefer Ultimaker Tough PLA for strength, combined with the protectiveness of TPU 95A. Another advantage is that you can use two colours. If you choose to use another colour for the outer surface of a part, the colour of the inner surface will show whether a part is ready for replacement.

VACUUM CASTING Stage 5: Finishing

VACUUM CASTING Stage 5: Finishing

Stage 5: Finishing

During the #VacCasting process, we use certain components which help #resin to fill the mould perfectly. The main reason why this has to be done is because we must prevent potential problems from occurring; such as bubbles, bowing or sagging. These components include Feed, Sprue, Runners and Risers, which are only some of them. Besides, these components have also been cured in the mould alongside the part. So, following the demoulding process, these components need to be cleared in order to acquire the part. As PLG Global, we have #expert personnel to carry out this delicate process. Our personnel use advanced tools and #professional equipment so as to remove these integrants from the part. After the components are removed from the part smoothly, we have the exact copy of the part we have moulded.

Last but not least, some #PostProcessing is required. At this point, the replica of the part needs to be prepared according to our customer’s requirements. This means getting ready for putting the final touch to the part to give it a cosmetic look. Furthermore, the part may need these finishing touches in order to acquire a smoother surface quality, to obtain the right geometrics or for any other specification that our customer has demanded. Post-processing may also include polishing and/or painting the model. Our expert personnel are able to carry out all these processes according to what a certain part needs specifically.

Consequently, Vacuum Casting is a very cost-efficient method and it is highly preferred in rapid prototyping processes when it comes to producing challenging and delicate parts. It is widely used in industries such as consumer goods, electronics, automotive, aerospace and many more. Vacuum Casting allows you to produce parts with high precision, which is considered to be the number one benefit of it along with its cost-efficiency.

Urethane Casting

Urethane Casting

Stage 4 of Vacuum Casting process is called Urethane Casting. Urethane casting is both cost-efficient and highly adaptable while many different parts are manufactured repeatedly. It is also time-efficient, which minimises lead times as much as possible. Furthermore, it provides more freedom in terms of design, which is a plus for manufacturers and, of course, for clients. Another advantage of using urethane is that you can get high-quality surface finish, which is ideal for the production of low volume parts.

In this stage, we generally use high-performance #Polyurethane materials. Casting urethane is a delicate process and for this reason, each and every procedure must be followed carefully as stated in the recipes in order to refrain from making any mistakes. #ABS, #PMMA, #PP, #PA, #Glassfilled, and #PC are only some of the materials we can simulate in this process. The correct ratio must be used when these materials are mixed together. After #polyol and #isocyanate are mixed in the pot, the liquid #resin will be poured into the cavity of the #Siliconemould via hoses under a #vacuum environment and with the help of gravity. When the materials are mixed, a chemical reaction occurs which transforms them to solid form. It must be taken into consideration that it is sure to shrink as it becomes solid, though it is generally a relatively minor amount of shrinkage. Approximately 10-20 minutes later, #mould will be ready to be cured in the oven. Basically, we put the mould in a temperature controlled oven and wait for at least 2 hours. Cycle time depends on the material we use and the post-process requirements to fulfil our client`s needs. Now, we should demould the part and prepare the mould for the next shots and repeat Stage 4. This process can be repeated up to approximately 20 times.

Silicone Demoulding

Silicone Demoulding

Stage 3: Silicone Demoulding

We have prepared the master model. The amount of silicone which is necessary had already been calculated and poured into the frame earlier. As mentioned in the previous stage, it is essential to wait for a period of 12 to 24 hours in order for the silicone to get cured. It must be noted that this curing time depends on the kind of silicone that is being used. At this point, it is important that the silicone remains untouched. Following the necessary curing time, it is now time to demould the silicone.

Silicone demoulding is an extremely delicate process which must be carried out very carefully. To put it simply, demoulding the silicone means that the master model is detached from the frame manually. The first step of this process is to gently cut the mould into two parts. It must be noted here that the mould is not cut randomly. Rather, a predetermined line must be followed when it is being cut so that it is not damaged or deformed in any way. This must be handled as carefully as possible because it might be needed later on. One silicone mould can be used for approximately 20 to 30 times. For this reason, harming the master model means we must start over when we need to use it again, which means wasting precious time. As PLG Global, there are many different tricks we use in order to make this process easier to handle; such as releasing agents and using special tools. After the master model is extracted from its frame, it is now time to close the mould and to stamp it. Stamping it is essential for protection because it must be kept stable while casting. After silicone demoulding process is finished, Urethane Casting stage begins.

3D Printing Waterproof Parts

3D Printing Waterproof Parts

Arun Chapman

The number of applications for 3D printers is endless even though they can sometimes be hindered by reality. When printing parts which require holding water, they may often leak. There are still ways to prevent that from happening.

Waterproofing watertight parts

It is possible to waterproof these parts despite the fact that it is not always that easy. In order to achieve the best possible result, one needs to be very careful about the material and the settings. Still, the parts may require some post-processing in order for them to be waterproof. When something is waterproof, it is expected that it is capable of pushing water out. The term water-resistant is also used when something keeps water out up to a limit. The parts that keep water in are watertight. Here, the word “waterproof” is used as an umbrella term for all of these terms.

There are certain stages that need to be followed in order to make something watertight and water-resistant even though not all parts require the same criteria. All in all, it would be wise to not rely on a printed part to protect sensitive material.

How waterproof parts are printed

There are three essential points in order to achieve waterproof parts which are: the material used, your slicer settings, and post-processing. Waterproof parts can be printed in a range of different 3D printing technologies. Many expensive industrial 3D printers have the ability to create highly reliable waterproof parts using metal. The majority of people cannot access these printers. In this case, it would be best to concentrate on the ones which are common, such as FFF printing. 

Materials used

A good deal of FFF filaments consists of thermoplastics. Plastic is a reliable element when it comes to producing waterproof objects such as water bottles. Another advantage of plastic at this point is that water does not damage it. Before starting to print waterproof parts, it is essential to know that there are still different kinds of thermoplastics which have a variety of characteristics.


Several materials used in 3D printing are hygroscopic; they absorb water. PETG, Nylon and PLA are not as good as others while ABS and PP are better than most. However, most of these materials absorb water up to a point. When a part is exposed to water for long, some swelling occurs. Despite the fact that this swelling might be small, there is still deformity on the part and it may even start to break which means that it is no longer waterproof or watertight. This swelling stops after some time. One may think of drying this swollen part, but this may cause more damage to occur.

Slicer settings

The working principle of FFF printers is that they stack the materials layer by layer. However, there is always the possibility of a small gap occurring between every layer. In order to prevent this from happening, there are some settings that should be followed.

Wall line count

Wall line count is self-explanatory in that it is the number of layers there are in the outer wall of the print. Basically, the principle is that the more layers there are the more waterproof it is as there is less possibility for the water to pass through the walls. If, by chance, there is a tiny gap, the other walls will protect it.

Normally, 3 is a good number for wall line. It is important to know that when there are more wall lines, it does not protect the part. A single wall may be sufficient at times, namely when you use vase mode.

Vase mode

Vase mode is also referred to as spiralise outer contour, which is a setting that is capable of printing objects with single wall line. There is one continuous print part, meaning there are no retractions and no Z seam, which is the most important advantage of vase mode. Z seam is the most common areas where a gap occurs. When Z seam is removed, a single-wall part becomes waterproof. Still, the parts that require certain geometry are not suitable for this setting. Vase mode is best suitable for vases, cups, bowls etc.


When two layers are not bonded appropriately, gaps occur. In order to increase layer adhesion, the printing temperature must also be increased. Depending on the material, the highest possible temperature should be set to print at. If the temperature is too hot for the material, it may boil which leads to more gaps.

Flow rate

The most common reason that there are gaps in a part is under-extrusion. Prioritising high dimensional accuracy, structural strength or visual fidelity may cause to under-extrusion even in well-tuned print profiles. Increasing flow rate slightly might be enough for development. Starting with %105 and increasing until you see a reaction might be sufficient.

Post-processing parts to make them waterproof

Apply a waterproof coating

Waterproofing spray, a clear coat, water-resistant paint can cover up the gaps in a printed part, which is the easiest method.

Vapor smoothing

A chemical is used to melt the surface, which smooths the part and removes the layer lines. This method makes the part look more appealing and makes the part more waterproof by filling gaps.

Temperature treatment

There are two ways and two purposes of temperature treatment. It is used to apply heat to the outside of a print which causes the surface to melt in a way to fuse the layers together. This is very similar to vapour smoothing. The other way is to heat soak the part in a period of time, which is called annealing. This causes the layers to bong together more strongly.

What are the applications for waterproof parts?

Scientific research

Scientific research on fluid dynamics and microfluidics are a great area for 3D printed parts.


Plant pots, composting containers, and hydroponics are some of the areas suitable for 3D printing. It is important to use materials that are suitable for the climate.

Plant pots, composting containers, and hydroponics are some of the areas suitable for 3D printing. It is important to use materials that are suitable for the climate.

Water features

3D printed water features can be perfect for a pond or a fish tank.

Vacuum Casting Stage: 2

Vacuum Casting Stage: 2

Stage 2: Pattern Post-Processing stage

Following data preparation stage and after the master model is 3D printed or machined, the post-processing process starts. Post-processing of the master model is an essential stage in vacuum casting process. The purpose of this stage is to create identical parts to the master model for which some detailing is required. Furthermore, the master model must be flawless in order to make sure that there are no flaws in the duplicated parts. To this end, the master model needs to be post-processed according to what the client is expecting it to look like. The surface quality of the master model will be duplicated identically in the shots that are going to be acquired from the silicone mould. At this point, there are some specifications which depend on what the client demands. For instance, if the model needs to be glossy then it is polished. If a matte finish is desired then it is sandblasted. As PLG Global, we use our expertise to handle the post-processing phase with the use of lots of tools. When the surfaces are ready, the next step starts which is positioning the part in the frame. Our mould designer chooses an orientation and places the master model in this frame accordingly. At this point, there are some specific features that need to be taken into consideration. Among these features are the density, viscosity, characteristics and flow direction of the resin. Before silicone casting starts, it needs to have some runners and sprues which should be determined. The last stage is wrapping the master model with robust metal plates and pouring the liquid silicone into it. It is essential for the silicone to wait for 12 to 24 hours to get cured. When the curing is finished, the silicone demoulding process begins.  




Vacuum Casting is a method used for Rapid Prototyping in Low Volume Manufacturing. Vacuum Casting, also referred to as Silicone Moulding, is the process of replicating a master model through the use of silicone moulds or polyurethanes. In other words, a part is modelled after its own shape in a silicone mould for pre-mass production purposes. It is an efficient method for low quantity production.

PLG Global has a team of able engineers who are experienced in processes including, but not limited to, Vacuum Casting. Basically, there are five steps in this process, all of which will be explained in detail. They are as follows: Data preparation, master model, silicone demoulding, urethane casting and finishing process.

Stage 1: Data Preparation

The first step of #VacCasting process is initiated in the software. You can export any #3D format type (#stp#iges#x_t etc.) on your #design platform and send it to us. First thing our engineers do is to translate it to #STL format. After that, it must be scaled in accordance with the shrinkage specs of the #silicone and #polyurethane that is going to be used. At this point, our engineers should anticipate how the part is going to react in the mould in the most correct way. This is the part that requires the most efficiency in this stage. The last step of data preparation is sending it to our #digitalmanufacturing machines. It can be a #3Dprinter#CNC or any other proper technique. For our master models, we generally use #VAT technologies; such as #SLA#PolyJet#DLP, #LSPc and so on… Then, while the part is being printed, we calculate the amount of the polyurethane (#PU) resin or silicone that is going to be spent in the next stage which is the post-processing of the printed / machined master model.