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I'm currently printing 11 copies of the same model. I noticed as it's printing that it seems to work on one model at a time but doesn't travel to the nearest model next. I suspect it's traveling around the bed in the order that I put the models in the slicer. This is resulting in extra unnecessary travel and therefore, increasing print time. I slice in Cura 4.9.

Is there a slicer that handles this better? Or is there a way to optimize movements in Cura?

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  • $\begingroup$ If you're handy with software, e.g. python, you could slice a single product, and insert code by a post processing application after each layer to add a travel movement and print that layer again with the offset given by the inserted travel, shouldn't be too much work. ;-) You do need to reset the extruder at every new product layer, in Cura you can insert a placeholder after each layer, there are plugins available. $\endgroup$
    – 0scar
    Jul 23 at 22:34
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It's well known in mathematical circles that the "salesman problem" is what mathematicians call "hard" -- in their usage, that means a lot of extremely smart people have worked on the problem for many years (more than a century?) and still not found a robust, works-every-time solution.

What's probably happening with Cura and other slicers is that, for their version of this issue (the most efficient way to visit multiple locations) the decision was made that reducing computing time in slicing was more practical than optimizing travel time of the machine. This is a reasonable decision, from a programming standpoint, because you're likely to be sitting in front of a screen, getting more and more impatient (and thinking less and less of the software you're using) every second the slicing takes, but when the actual printing is going on, you can be doing something else (sleeping, working at your day job, etc.)

Therefor, it's likely that what you see in Cura is optimized -- to minimize your time on the way to a solution, rather than to minimize the time for a machine that simply doesn't care if a print takes five hours or nine.

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Long story short: I only know the setting "Combing Mode OFF" that improves the travel paths. In my case it did not help. In your case I suggest you should give PrusaSlicer a try. I assume that the overall print duration will be improved because of a better calculation of the travel paths. But this is only my personal opinion between these two Slicers.

Further explanation: I downloaded the Cura 4.9 and made an install from scratch. I tried to reproduce your issue by placing lots of copies of the same part. As printer I selected the Ultimaker S5 and used the standard configuration for slicing. I let Cura arrange the parts on the print plate. I checked the travel paths between the parts and in most cases Cura has chosen the nearest distance to move the printhead to the next part. In my opinion, there could be a more efficient choice for the next part to print. After this first test I experimented with the settings (e.g. "Combing Mode" OFF) but without an improvement in travel movements.

In the past I used Cura in combination with an Ultimaker S5 at work to print parts for production usecases. Over the past two years I recognized lots of parts where the travel movements have been chosen very unefficiently at the cost of high print duration.

For comparison I used my standard slicer "PrusaSlicer" and did the test under the same conditions: standard settings, auto-arrangement of the parts. Overall the travel paths are calculated more efficiently, but there is also some room for improvement.

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