Here are the important Cura settings that I found after lengthy experimenting with mini printing. These are what I found were necessary to ensure printing minis in PLA goes well. These are chosen to maximize print quality and success on my Ender-5. This should be appropriate for any of the Ender printers. You'll definitely want to do a little experimentation for yourself to see what settings work for your setup and material, but this is a good place to start.
The best way to setup this profile is to manually copy the high resolution default, and then modify each of these settings. Make sure to save the profile!
The important settings.
- Layer Height: 0.05 mm
- Initial Layer Height: 0.016 mm
- Wall Line Count 5
- Infill Density: 100%
- Infill Pattern: Lines
- Printing Temperature: 190 C (test this!)
- Build Plate Temperature: 55 C (test this as well!)
- Flow: 97%
- Print Speed: 20 mm/s
- Infill Speed: 20 mm/s
- Wall Speed: 10 mm/s
- Outer Wall Speed: 10 mm/s
- Inner Wall Speed: 10 mm/s
- Enable Retraction: Yes
- Retraction Distance: 6 mm
- Retraction Speed: 50 mm/s
- Enable Print Cooling
- Fan Speed 100%
- Generate Support: Yes
- Support Structure: Tree
- Support Z Distance: 0.05 mm (Same as the layer height)
- Build Plate Adhesion
- Enable Draft Shield: Yes (this is optional)
A few comments:
Retraction: If you have a direct drive system, you'll probably not need to have such extreme retraction settings, and can calm down a bit. My long bowden required this, and still didn't completely solve it.
Speed: Go slow. As slow as you can handle. I found that at such low resolutions, collisions were relatively common when moving quickly, which would caused missed steps. On such small prints, this was glaringly visible.
Draft Shield: While wasteful, I found this very helpful in making a uniform surface finish. These minis are really dynamic, which causes total layer print times to vary drastically along the model. The end result is variable and inconsistent cooling times which caused some layers lines to have texture different from others. It is obvious say, at the end of a sword or arm, where a shiny strip will show up because suddenly the cooling times weren't long enough. The draft shield helped ensure a long enough cooling time between layers such that surface texture was consistent.
This was also useful in minimizing blobing, as any little blips had a tendency to stick to the shield, rather than the model itself. It didn't completely solve blobbing, but really helped!
Support: I will have an entire post on using Cura's tree supports to maximum effect, allowing good print quality, preservation of detail, and models that can actually be extracted from their supports. In a very few cases, normal supports work fine, but for mini's of bipeds with arms and swords and other pointy bits, tree supports are the only way to go.