Cura is Ultimaker’s powerful slicing software for 3D printers. It’s undeniably among the most popular of slicers, combining ease of use with flexibility.
But why stop there? Cura plugins add extra functionality to the already well-fleshed-out user experience. The add-ons are available for download through the “Marketplace” built into newer versions of Cura.
Here’s our pick of the top 5 must-have Cura plugins to enhance your workflow!
If you’re designing parts for 3D printing, you’re probably burning through several prototypes. Each time you make a design iteration, you must re-export and re-slice it before you can print.
To cut through the hassle, install one of the Cura plugins for CAD integration. These allow you to directly open your CAD files in Cura, saving you the time and file space of having to re-export. Simply modify your designs and print away!
CAD integration plugins are essential for anyone doing regular, iterative 3D printing.
Available for: Solidworks, Autodesk Inventor, Siemens NX, Blender, FreeCAD, and OpenSCAD
Created by: Ultimaker, Thomas Karl Pietrowski
By virtue of how FDM 3D printing works, overhanging areas don’t fare too well when printing. As such, proper orientation of your model can greatly reduce print times, decrease failure rates, and save hassle in post-processing.
If you’re less experienced with orienting prints, the Cura Auto-Orientation plugin is a great way to get started. It automatically calculates how to minimize overhangs for your models, decreasing the need for supports.
Auto-Orientation will simplify your slicing workflow and help you to develop an intuition for part orientation.
Plugin Name: Auto-Orientation
Created By: nallath
We’ve all been there: stuck in imperial units, but needing metric. It’s not a big deal, but it can be irritating when you don’t feel like doing the conversions.
Barbarian Units was made just for this. When you import a model designed in the wrong units, scale them properly with just one click.
You might not have to use it often, but this plugin will prove a godsend.
Plugin Name: Barbarian Units
Created By: nallath
Cura offers incredible flexibility when tuning material settings, but the configurations are always stored locally on your computer.
That’s no longer the case with Cura Backups. This plugin syncs your profiles through Ultimaker’s encrypted cloud servers, allowing you to access and edit your settings from anywhere in the world. Regardless of what computer you’re on, you have full control over a centralized, synced set of configurations just by logging in.
Cura Backups is essential for anyone who wants to keep their settings organized and accessible when printing from multiple computers.
Plugin Name: Cura Backups
Created by: Ultimaker
Cura’s “Recommended” interface is incredibly simple and intuitive, but Ultimaker doesn’t tie you to just that; you have the option of tweaking every single setting for the best printing experience possible.
What do all of these little settings do? Well, that’s where it can get confusing. The Cura Settings Guide plugin is an official tool from Ultimaker that explains each setting in detail, with helpful images to illustrate key points. That way, you’ll know exactly where you’re headed.
For anyone looking to tinker with detailed settings, the Cura Settings Guide is the perfect handbook.
Plugin Name: Cura Settings Guide
Created By: Ultimaker
There you have it! Our pick of the top 5 Cura plugins to make your 3D printing experience that much better.
If you’re looking for more ways to get the most out of Cura, check out our breakdowns of Cura Connect and the Cura slicer. For general slicer tips, refer to our list of the top 8 need-to-know slicer settings.
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License: The text of "2019 Best Cura Plugins" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.