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Cura Vase Mode – All You Need to Know

Pranav Gharge
Aug 21, 2019

Vase Mode is an experimental feature in Cura that is capable of producing some aesthetic prints. Dig into this guide where we demystify Cura vase mode and show you how to create some seamless models.

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Cura Vase Mode

Is It Just for Vases?

A collection of modern vases (rendered).
A collection of modern vases (rendered). (Source: firdz3d / CG Trader)

Among many slicer options available today, Ultimaker Cura remains a common choice for many. Besides being free and relatively easy to use, it boasts several handy features. One of those handy features is vase mode, also known as “Spiralise Outer Contour” in Cura.

This mode enables you to print objects relatively quickly while also using less material. Using this feature, you can print almost any model with the thickness of just a single wall. This mode is suited for models that have a continuous cross-section, without any holes or gaps in their geometry; hence the name Vase Mode.

Let’s explore this fantastic feature to see how you can make use of it!

Cura Vase Mode

The Setting: Simply Explained

A monochromatic vase printed using vase mode.
A monochromatic vase printed using vase mode. (Source: devinmontes.com)

In Cura, vase mode is known as “Spiralise Outer Contour”, and there’s a reason for this: in Cura’s Vase Mode, the print progresses upwards in a spiral, thus there aren’t any real layers. Instead, the model is gradually building up through smooth, continuous movements of the Z-axis.

The movement of the printer components during this process makes for a very engaging visual experience, so it’s widely used for demonstrating the abilities of 3D printing.

Cura Vase Mode

How Does It Work?

From start to finish, the nozzle doesn't stop extruding.
From start to finish, the nozzle doesn't stop extruding. (Source: 3D Printing Nerd / YouTube)

In Cura, this setting is available under the “Special Modes” tab. Just check the box to enable it. Once activated, make sure you load a model that has a continuous geometry, similar to a vase or a cylinder. When you hit the slice button, Cura will slice the object to have just a single wall, a solid bottom, and no top surfaces.

Note that in vase mode, you can only load a single model at a time because the nozzle traces a single continuous path. This means retraction doesn’t occur: The object is made of a long, unbroken string of filament laid on top of itself, turn after turn.

Cura Vase Mode

Settings to Tweak

Tweaking Cura settings.
Tweaking Cura settings. (Source: 3DME / YouTube)

Now that you know how vase mode works, you should understand the settings you need to get right to achieve the best results.

  • Wall Line Width:  The width of a single wall is pre-set in the slicer and corresponds to the nozzle size that you’re using. For a 0.4-mm nozzle, the width of a single line is 0.4 mm. A higher line width will create a much stronger print, and a nozzle of greater size will provide you with a higher line width. But swapping out the nozzle isn’t the only way: A 0.4-mm nozzle can also give you a wall thickness of up to 0.6 mm if you get the following two settings right.
  • Temperature: Vase mode or not, getting your temperature settings dialed in will go a long way. A larger nozzle size will be pushing out much more material, so a 0.6-mm nozzle will need a slightly higher temperature than your 0.4-mm nozzle. And it’s the same story when you’re printing with a higher line width. Try increasing the temperature in steps of five degrees at a time.
  • Speed: Vase mode needs to be slow. Each layer requires a sufficient amount of cooling time. Plus, if the line width is higher, you need to go slower still. A 25–30-mm/s wall printing speed is a good starting point.

These are the settings that you can use if you’re getting started. You should experiment with your own machine and material to find the sweet spot. Just remember that each parameter corresponds to the other, so if you change one setting, the others need to be changed, too.

Cura Vase Mode

What Do I Print Now?

A collection of wave vases.
A collection of wave vases. (Source: martin.zampach.com)

You’d be surprised by the sheer number of things that can be manufactured with vase mode: pyramids, rockets, bins, sculptures, and, of course, vases, among others. Also remember that there’s no limit on the materials that you could be using – PLA, ABS, PETG, and TPU all work great with vase mode. In fact, PETG prints made using vase mode can turn out translucent since they’re so thin.

Feature image source: ksenusya / CG Trader

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

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