Cura / Silhouette 3D / Silhouette Alta

How To Setup Cura to Use With The Silhouette Alta

I recently went to a craft fair where the Silhouette Alta was being exhibited. I had recently brought my Alta, so I stood talking to the exhibitor for a while. He showed me some stuff that he had printed on the Alta and I was fascinated. They weren’t as thick as the stuff I had printed but still seemed quite sturdy. They had been printed using a third party software. I was fascinated especially when he told me how long things had taken to print. I returned home, did some research, and started my quest to get Cura to work with the Alta.

My first few attempts failed, I really didn’t know what I was doing, however I knew what I was looking for so half the battle was won. I came across the following forum post and by following it carefully I managed to get not only the software and Alta communicating but also produce amazing results.

https://community.ultimaker.com/topic/23530-cura-support-for-silhouette-alta-3d-printer/

Now im a huge fan of Cura’s Vase Mode but I have to admit that that’s the only reason I use Cura. If Silhouette were to introduce it in their 3D software Id happily use that. I love how clean vase mode prints and more importantly I love the vast reduction in print time. Below are the two print screens for the Honeycomb Vase I printed. As you can see there is a huge difference, a difference of nearly 5.5hrs.

To install Cura to use with the Alta you just have to manually enter some settings. First things first you will need to download Cura. I use version 3.6 which can be found here https://ultimaker.com/en/products/ultimaker-cura-software/list. once you have downloaded the file and installed the programme you will need to open and manually configure. The first thing you need to do is add the Alta. To do this you will select custom > custom FFF Printer, then click add printer. You will then be presented with a new window Machine settings. Change the settings to the following

Under here it will have a Start G-Code and End G-Code window. Delete the information in there and add the following text

Start G-Code

G28 ; home all axes
G90
G1 Z5 F1200
G1 X0.000 Y-70.00 F2000.000
G1 Z0.000 F2000.000
G92 E0
G1 E50.00000 F100;
G92 E0
G1 Z0.400 F6000.000
G1 X-37.984 Y-51.711 F6000.000
G1 E5.99500 F4800.00000
G1 X-36.594 Y-52.712 E6.79005 F540.000
G1 X-33.376 Y-54.825 E7.18850
G1 X-31.774 Y-55.781 E7.22241
G1 X-28.512 Y-57.540 E7.58616
G1 X-26.697 Y-58.422 E7.98434
G1 X-23.446 Y-59.829 E8.04019
G1 X-21.413 Y-60.609 E8.78005
G1 X-18.195 Y-61.684 E8.85674
G1 X-15.980 Y-62.321 E9.57605
G1 X-12.811 Y-63.085 E9.67501
G1 X-10.390 Y-63.561 E10.08386
G1 X-7.329 Y-64.025 E10.37218
G1 X-4.725 Y-64.307 E10.49464
G1 X-1.780 Y-64.497 E10.76990
G1 X-0.510 Y-64.558 E10.90328
G1 X2.780 Y-64.497 E11.16826
G1 X4.725 Y-64.307 E11.31256
G1 X7.329 Y-64.025 E11.56583
G1 X10.390 Y-63.561 E11.72151
G1 X12.811 Y-63.085 E11.96409
G92 E0

End GCode

G92 E0
G1 E-40.00000 F2000
G91
G90
G92 E0
G1 E-1.00000 F2400
M104 S0
G28

Once you have done that click on the Extruder 1 tab and enter the following information

You will then be set up for the Alta & Cura to communicate. Vase Mode or Spiralise Outer Contour as it is actually called in Cura is an optional setting. To ensure this is enabled go to Preferences > Configure Cura > Settings and scroll down to the special modes section and ensure that Spiralize Outer Contour & Smooth Spiralized Contours are ticked. Now you are all set up and ready to print Vase Mode in Cura.

For those of you interested Cura has lots of settings that you can tweak, however I have never changed or played with any of the settings. The vases I have printed are all available on Thingiverse. First download your chosen file and open in Cura, sometimes the files have to be scaled down which can be done from the left hand side menu. Once the design is Yellow in colour this means it is correctly sized to be printed on the Alta. On the right hand side are your print settings, again I never change those, the only thing you need to do if printing in vase made is ensure that it is selected under the special modes section.

Once you start looking Vases aren’t the only thing that can be printed in vase mode, and a quick search on Thingiverse will show the variety of items that can be done using this mode. If you’d like to see some of the files I’ve printed from Thingiverse please follow at

https://www.thingiverse.com/mholloway/about

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