Method series slicing and better prime towers in the Cura 5.6 stable release

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Arun Chapman

November 28, 2023

In this article, we will take a look at some of the new features of Cura that you can look forward to in this 5.6 stable release. Including, the long-awaited support for Method series printers, as well as additional settings that now let you control the base of your prime towers. Additionally, since the previous 5.5 release, the Cura team has leveraged the engine plugin capabilities introduced in that release to create a new plugin that gives you a bunch of new infill options!

Cura now supports Method series printers!

A year after the merger of Ultimaker and MakerBot, we have unlocked the ability for users of our Method series printers to slice files using UltiMaker Cura. As of this release, users can find profiles for our Method X and Method XL printers, as well as material profiles for ABS-R, ABS-CF, and RapidRinse. Meaning it’s now possible to use either Cura or the existing cloud-slicing software CloudPrint when printing with these printers or materials.

Method XL in Cura

Why did this take so long?

Cura allows users to slice files for hundreds of 3rd party printers, so why did it take so long for Method series printers to be supported, which as of the merger, are made by UltiMaker? There are several reasons, but the most relevant is that Method series printers use a different file type than the majority of printers, including S series printers. Most use .gcode files whereas the Method series uses .makerbot files. Enabling Cura to generate .makerbot files was a difficult and lengthy process that took months of dedicated work by the Cura team.

Another reason was that we wanted the print profiles for our Method printers to be as well-tuned and as well-tested as the profiles inside of CloudPrint.. Since the slicing engine and available settings are different between Cura and CloudPrint, this required a lot of test prints and validation before we got our profiles to where we wanted them.

Why use Cura instead of CloudPrint?

If CloudPrint meets your requirements, then there is nothing stopping you from continuing to use it. However, there are some distinct advantages to using Cura instead.

Local slicing

For companies with strict security policies in place, locally installed software that does not require internet access to operate is sometimes preferred over cloud-based software. In cases where CloudPrint is not an option, Cura can now provide a secure local alternative.

Extensive settings selection.

Cura has always provided users with access to a large number of settings and this release extends those options to Method series printers. In CloudPrint, the setting selection was limited to provide a controlled and repeatable printing experience, with the Labs extruder unlocking additional settings for users who wanted to experiment. Cura, on the other hand, gives users unlimited access to over 600 settings for complete 3D printing flexibility.

New features and regular updates

Throughout its history, Cura has always been on the cutting edge of 3D printing technology with regular updates introducing new industry-leading features like tree supports, the Arachne slicing engine, and much more. All of which came to Cura first before later being adopted by the wider industry. By incorporating Cura into their workflow, users get access to all of these features, as well as the many future features that will turn up in upcoming releases.

How do I slice files for a Method series printer in Cura?

You can add a Method series printer by choosing the ‘Add printer’ option within Cura. You can then choose ‘UltiMaker printer’ and then ‘Add local printer’ Unfortunately, it’s not possible in this release to use Method series printers with Digital Factory. That functionality will be coming in a later release, however.

Once your Method series printer has been added, you can slice with it as you would with any UltiMaker printer. The same ‘Balanced’ and ‘Solid’ profiles that can be found in CloudPrint are available and can be selected based on your requirements. After that, you can manipulate your model on the virtual build plate, select the materials you wish to use, and even modify custom settings or use a plugin from the Marketplace if needed. Finally, you can slice and preview your model before saving the final project file. You will then need to transfer the resulting .makerbot file to the printer using a USB device in order to start your print.

Will there be more Cura updates for the Method series in the future?

This is just the first step in a series of updates that will improve the compatibility of the Method series with Cura. In future releases, we intend to introduce additional material profiles, enable compatibility with the UltiMaker Digital Factory, and more.

Additional settings for adjusting prime tower bases

Prime tower base settings

New settings have been released that let you modify the base of your prime tower. The new settings are:

  • Prime Tower Base Size
  • Prime Tower Base Height
  • Prime Tower Base Slope
  • Prime Tower Raft Line Spacing

You can modify these settings to help improve the reliability of your prime towers. You can also use them to calibrate how well your prime tower adheres to the build plate for increased print success, or to avoid over-adhesion that may damage your build plate.

An engine plugin for added infill flexibility

Infill plugin patterns

A new plugin has been created by the Cura team that makes use of the improved engine plugin capabilities introduced in Cura 5.5. The plugin is called CuraEngine Tiled Infill Generation and it allows users to select from an expanded list of infill patterns, as well as allowing users to add their own infill pattern by uploading a *.wtk file.

The plugin can be downloaded now through the UltiMaker Marketplace. This plugin is just a taste of what is now possible when creating Cura plugins. We look forward to seeing what the Cura community creates next!

Additional improvements

The following improvements have also been implemented in the Cura 5.6 stable release:

  • Start and end gcode now accepts variables and math that includes variables
  • Spanish translations related to lightning infill have been updated (contributed by @Pelochus)
  • Additional bug fixes

Download this latest release to start discovering new 3D printing possibilities right now. And please, go to the UltiMaker community site to give us your feedback.