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I'm using a Creality Ender 3 printer with 1.75 mm PLA filament. The print model has a 0.8 mm thick rectangular base. The design contains a couple of shapes (mainly circles and a cross) that stick out an otherwise flat rectangle. The circles and the cross stick out by 0.8 mm. The bottom of the model is flat.

Is it possible to stack multiple models on each other using Cura if the top of the model is not flat (as shown in the image below)?

Screenshot of a rectangular 3D model with circles and a cross on top in Cura

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3 Answers 3

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Although theoretically it should be possible to stack objects vertically, Cura does not support it out of the box. You will need to change the following configuration under the [Preferences] menu to allow objects to be placed on top of each other:

  • Automatically drop models to the build plate
  • Ensure models are kept apart

screenshot of settings

This is a bit tedious, but it works.

A different approach would be to make a single model of stacked elements in your 3D modeling software. stacked elements would simply fuse the elements to 1 model, so leave some space between them for the slicer to be able to generate supports. This solution would work, but produce a lot of support material and a terrible rough surface on both sides of the cards.

This solution screams "laser-engraved plywood" by the way. Maybe someone nearby can cheaply help you out?

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  • $\begingroup$ This is good for the software side of it, I was unaware of the "Ensure models are kept apart" option. Thank you! Though I am more concerned about will something like this be actually printable. I've seen people stack models that have a flat bottom and top surface, but my model above does not have a flat top, due to the circles that stick out of it. Could something like this be reliably printed? $\endgroup$ Mar 3, 2023 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ absolutely, but with a horrible finish. $\endgroup$
    – Hacky
    Mar 4, 2023 at 19:34
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This print will not stack reasonably, unless you have a multi-material printer that can use a separate material and zero gap supports.

Flat bottom surfaces are particularly bad for printing on top of supports; they will not squish right, producing inaccurate thickness and a surface finish that's very visibly made from strands of filament, possibly not even bonded fully to one another. On top of that, supports will mar the surface of the object below them. You can avoid that with tree supports that come in from the sides, but that requires a large vertical gap between objects.

For this particular print, have you considered printing them all on their sides, stacked horizontally? It will give a different finish and less strength but would make it easy to print lots on a plate.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting, so almost like laying them on their sides? I hadn't consider that before. Would the circles sticking out still likely be okay? Maybe with supports? $\endgroup$ Mar 7, 2023 at 4:52
  • $\begingroup$ The circles will probably be okay, but with a little bit of support. Enable supports in your slicer and preview it to get an idea. $\endgroup$
    – Hacky
    Dec 4, 2023 at 10:44
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Consider changing the model by having the top surface features as shallow depressions instead of raised areas.

Adding a series of small raised nubs to the top surfaces would make for easier separation of the pieces and would be fairly easily removed from the top surfaces after separating the layers. The bottoms would likely be pretty ugly from sagging, however.

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