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Matthew Harrison - Feb 24 2018

Variable Layer Height in Slic3r Prusa Edition

I recently decided to create a Youtube channel for my tutorials in order to reach a wider audience and also post some more project type videos that I've been wanting to do. A lot of my content is visual so I think it suits well.

In this guide I walk through how to use the variable layer height feature in Slic3r Prusa Edition to add detail to your prints without sacrificing print time. You can also find written instructions below.

The variable layer height feature in Slic3r Prusa Edition allows you to define different regions of your parts to print with different layer heights. Simplify 3D can do this with its multiple processes, but what makes variable layer height special is that it allows you to smoothly transition between layer heights, so there's no sudden change. This makes the transition more difficult (and sometimes impossible) to see on the finished print.

The most valuable use for a feature like this is a model that has mostly vertical walls where you can get away with a coarser layer height like 0.3mm, but also has a curved top surface where a finer layer height is necessary to hide the layer lines. One example of parts like this is the segments of the heart gears model found on Thingiverse.

Setup

To begin using variable layer height, first import your model into Slic3r Prusa edition, click on it, and then click the Layer Editing button in the menu bar at the top.

Slic3r prusa edition toolbar screenshot

You'll be able to see that this brings up a grey bar on the right hand side of the plater window. The vertical line through the middle of this bar represents the base layer height. To add detail in a certain part of the model, click and hold the left mouse button while hovering over the grey bar at the height that you'd like to adjust. You can do the same thing with the right mouse button to remove detail in a certain area.

If you have a look at the note next to the grey bar at the bottom, you can see that it's also possible to use the mouse wheel to adjust the size of the area that you're editing.

Screenshot of layer editing menu in Slic3r prusa edition

As you can see in this example, I've removed detail for the lower area of the model and added detail where it curves at the top. You can hold shift and the right mouse button while dragging over the blue line to smooth out the curve.

If you're wondering what the maximum and minimum layer heights that you can adjust to are, these can be set under Printer Settings > Extruder 1 > Layer Height Limits. The defaults are a minimum of 0.07mm and a maximum of 0.25mm.

Screenshot of layer height limits menu

Results

The part on the left in this picture was printed with a 0.3mm layer height for the whole print, and the part on the right was printed with a 0.3mm layer height for the base, transitioning down to a 0.07mm layer height at the very top. The part on the left printed in 47 minutes, and the part on the right printed in 53 minutes.

Print comparison showing two 3D printed gears

That's just a 6 minute difference in print time for such a massive difference in the print quality!

I hope you found this guide useful. If you did, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel here to see more tutorials and project videos. 

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