Feb 10, 2019

Cura Infill Patterns – All You Need to Know

Confused about infill? Here we'll discuss what infill is, what patterns exist, and how you can use Cura to make the best parts for your application while saving money and time.

Cura Infill Patterns What Is an Infill Pattern?

A variety of infill patterns and densities. Source: All3DP

Quite often, 3D printing is used to produce parts that could just as easily be made using another manufacturing technique. Yet, although the final results might look the same on the outside, what’s inside could be drastically different.

A major benefit (and necessity) of 3D printing is that parts can be varying degrees of hollow. From a production perspective, this reduces material and cost as well as the weight of the final product. And from a printing perspective, it saves valuable time!

What sits inside a 3D print’s outer shells is called infill, and it can be adjusted with respect to density — 0% is hollow while 100% is solid — and pattern.

In the following, we’ll take a look at a variety of different infill patterns, specifically those that are available in Cura.

Cura Infill Patterns What Infill Patterns Are There?

Infill patterns can drastically affect a print's strength and flexibility. Source: CNC Kitchen / YouTube

In Cura 3.6, there are 13 types of infill available for use. We’ve organized them according to what they’re best used for:

Models (Low Strength)

  • Lines

Standard 3D Prints (Medium Strength)

  • Grid
  • Triangles
  • Tri-Hexagon

 Functional 3D Prints (High Strength)

  • Cubic
  • Cubic subdivision
  • Octet
  • Quarter cubic
  • Gyroid

 Flexible 3D Prints

  • Concentric
  • Cross
  • Cross 3D

Cura Infill Patterns Models

The starship Enterprise is a typical model printed with low strength infill. Source: RealAbsurdity / Thingiverse

Typical infill density: 0–15%

If they’re used as models or figurines, 3D prints don’t typically require a great deal of strength. That’s because they’re not subjected to heavy handling or put under stress.

For such applications, the lines infill pattern is best because it gives the fastest print. Called rectilinear in other slicers, lines produces a 2D grid, but where only one direction is printed per layer.

Models like the Starship Enterprise work well with simple infill patterns.

Cura Infill Patterns Standard 3D Prints

This upgrade for the Anet A8 printer could use a moderate amount of strength. Source: papinist / Thingiverse

Typical infill density: 15–50%

For 3D prints subjected to low stress, such as the above filament guide, a medium strength infill pattern should be used. Infill patterns such as grid, triangles, or tri-hexagon are most appropriate. Note, however, that these patterns may increase print time by up to 25% compared to lines.

  • Grid: A self-explanatory 2D pattern, the main advantage of grid is print speed, as it’s the least complex of the three.
  • Triangles: A 2D mesh made of triangles, this pattern has an inherent advantage in strength when a load is applied perpendicular to the object’s face. It also makes sense for parts with thin, rectangular components, which might otherwise have very few connections between walls.
  • Tri-hexagons: This 2D pattern produces hexagons interspersed with triangles. One advantage is that hexagons are an efficient shape, making them a strong infill pattern relative to their material usage. In addition to that, hexagon infill has shorter lines to connect each side, leading to fewer issues with bowing from poor print cooling.
Triangles and tri-hexagons. Source: Ultimaker

Cura Infill Patterns Functional 3D Prints

Model rockets that fly need to be incredibly strong and should use a stronger infill. Source: Telvin_3d / Thingiverse

Typical infill density: >50%

Functional 3D prints, such as this model rocket, require high strength in multiple directions. Strong candidates for infill patterns include cubic, cubic subdivision, quarter cubic, octet, and gyroid.

  • Cubic: This is a 3D pattern of stacked and tilted cubes.
  • Cubic subdivision: This variation of cubic uses less material.
  • Octet: Also known as tetrahedral infill, this pattern stacks pyramid shapes.
Cubic and octet. Source: Ultimaker
  • Quarter cubic: This 3D pattern is like octet, but half of the pyramid shapes are shifted with respect to the other half.
  • Gyroid: A particularly unique 3D pattern, which gives the impression of waves. Nevertheless, it is equally strong in multiple directions. This infill pattern would therefore be a good choice for a part that will be stressed in multiple ways.
Quarter cubic and gyroid. Source: Ultimaker, mattshub.com

Often the above patterns are used even for lower infill densities because of their aesthetic appeal. Some makers like this type of effect, as shown in this gyroid vase.

Cura Infill Patterns Flexible 3D Prints

Soft PLA by MatterHackers is a flexible material that should be used with flexible infill patterns. Source: MatterHackers

Typical infill density: 0–100% (depends on how “squishy” you want your print to be)

Flexible filaments, like MatterHacker’s soft PLA, should use flexible infill patterns to preserve the flexible nature of the print. Infill patterns like concentric, cross, and cross 3D work best for these types of prints.

  • Concentric: This 2D pattern produces “waves” through the interior of the print, mimicking the shapes of the outer walls. This is much like how a stone thrown into water makes concentric circular ripples on the surface.
Concentric. Source: Ultimaker
  • Cross: Another 2D pattern, cross produces grids of what appear to be very fanciful crosses. The spaces between crosses and grids allow for bending and twisting.
  • Cross 3D: This 3D pattern is similar to cross, but as the print grows, the lines move at inclines. The end result is an object with slightly more rigidity.
Cross 3D. Source: cloudynights.com

Cura Infill Patterns Additional Settings

Infill direction is typically set at 45 degrees. Source: Benjamin Goldschmidt / All3DP

One commonly overlooked setting with infill is the infill line direction. This is set at 45 degrees by default so that both the X and Y motors work together to print the infill at maximum speed. However, it may be advantageous to orient the infill at a different angle in order to provide maximum strength or flexibility to the part.

Another commonly overlooked setting is gradual infill. This setting makes infill denser near the outside of the print as compared to the middle. This can save material and time while still providing sufficient strength to a large part that requires rigidity. With low infill, it is difficult to close top surfaces due to the bridging needed between infill lines. This denser infill closer to the top surface is useful so that a clean top surface is obtained.

License: The text of "Cura Infill Patterns – All You Need to Know" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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