People wonder whether it’s possible to 3D print multiple objects at the same time on a 3D printer, so I decided to write this article to answer this question to let people know the answers behind it.
Can You 3D Print Multiple Parts/Objects at Once?
Yes, you can 3D print multiple parts or objects are once simply by placing more than one object in your slicer build plate, and slicing the models as normal. You can choose to 3D print one object at a time, or 3D print each layer of both objects simultaneously, which is the default.
Many people choose to 3D print single objects at a time, but it’s definitely possible to 3D print multiple parts. It can be safer to 3D print singular objects in case on of them fails.
I’d usually recommend for beginners to 3D print one object at a time until they have more confidence that they can get successful models to adhere to the build plate nicely.
It’s possible to duplicate models on the build plate in Cura, just by right-clicking your object and selecting “Multiply Selected” or clicking the object and pressing CTRL + M.
You can choose the number of copies to make.
Then you can rearrange where the models are on the build plate.
In most cases, you’ll be 3D printing objects layer-by-layer, so they will both be 3D printed at the same time. There’s also another technique where you can 3D print objects one at a time, also called sequential printing.
It can be useful in some cases, while it can also cause issues of one part coming loose and failing, causing potential failure to the other part. 3D printing smaller objects one at a time can be beneficial for better quality because it has more time to cool down.
How to Use Sequential Printing in Cura
To 3D print models one at a time, also known in Cura as sequential printing, you simply have to set your Print Sequence setting to “One at a Time”. This will print one model in its entirety before printing the next model. You may have to adjust your 3D printer’s build plate size in Machine Settings to bypass an error.
Here are the steps to use sequential printing in Cura:
- Find the Print Sequence setting in Cura under Special Modes, or by searching for “Print Sequence”.
- Select the arrow to open up the options and click “One at a Time”.
- You can then proceed to slice
- There may be an error with the build volume height being shorter. To fix this, simply go into Machine Settings by pressing CTRL + K, go to the “Printers” tab, then “Machine Settings” and simply edit your Z-height +1 (from 250 to 251 for example) and it should bring back the usual height and allow you to slice the model.
You can also get to the setting by going to: Preferences > Configure Cura > Printers > Machine Settings > then change the Z (Height).
The first model you add to the build plate should be the first model 3D printed with the sequential printing option turned on. You can choose which model to 3D print first by simply deleting the objects in a certain order, then hitting CTRL + Z to undo and re-add those deleted objects.
If you have two objects on the build plate, the first one you delete should be the first one to print, and vice versa.
With the two models below, to 3D print the model on the right first, you should delete the model on the right, then the left. After you undo this action, the model on the right should print first as shown in the “Preview”.
Adjust the slider on the right to see the view of a layer number to see which model prints first.
If the objects are too close or they intersect each other, the slicer will not be able to slice the prints when you click on the slice.
Check out the video below by CHEP showing how this all works.
How to Use Sequential Printing in PrusaSlicer
To use sequential printing in PrusaSlicer, simply go to the “Print Settings” tab, ensuring you are in “Expert Mode”. Go to “Output Options” and you’ll see a setting called “Complete individual objects”. Check the box and this will enable sequential printing, or printing one object at a time.
You can also set extruder clearance here.
You can duplicate any model on the build plate by right-clicking the object and selecting “Set number of instances…” then inputting how many models you want to add.
If the objects on the build plate are too close, you’ll be unable to slice them and you’ll get an error message saying the objects are too close and that the extruder will collide with them.
If you get this error message, you should space out the objects more, according to your extruder clearance.
After you space them out correctly, the “slice now” option will appear and you’ll be able to slice out the objects. Check out the video below that shows a user creating a specific order for the objects to print in.
You use the ‘E’ key to see the order of objects in 3D view before slicing. If you want to change the order, you can drag and drop models in the “Object List”.
Just like in Cura, the last model will be printed first while the first model will be printed last so you want to keep this in mind when adding the objects.
Can You Stack 3D Prints? 3D Printing Onto Another Object
Yes, you can stack 3D prints by placing them on top of another within your slicer. Many users have done this with facemasks and other basic models, though it could get complex with more detailed models. You can save a lot of time and space within your 3D printer by doing this.
It’s a good idea to leave a small space between the objects you are stacking so they can be separated after printing, as well as to maintain a smooth surface on both the objects.
In the case of face shields, users made sure to have a gap spacing close or equal to their layer heights, or in multiples of it. For example, if you are printing at a 0.2mm layer height, try to have a gap spacing of 0.2mm or 0.4mm.
How to Stack 3D Prints & Print on Top of Another Print – Cura
To stack 3D prints on top of another print, you first have to disable two key settings in the “General” section of the Cura settings. Disable “Ensure Models are Kept Apart” & “Automatically Drop Models to the Build Plate”. You can now import your objects or duplicate an object, and move one on top of another.
Simply use the “Move” function in your slicer and move the object upwards and over the model you desire. You can see that I’ve stacked up four XYZ calibration cubes on top of one another.
To do this, you first want to press CTRL + A to select all your models, then right-click and select “Center Selected” to put them all in the same center position. Then from there, you can move them in the Z-direction to raise them above each other.
After that, make sure to preview your models to see how accurately positioned they are.
Here’s the model 3D printed on the Ender 3 S1.
If you want to be able to separate the models that are stacked, you want to set a small gap between them, usually around the same as your layer height, but it’s important to do some testing to get it right.
Doing this can be very beneficial if you plan on printing several models in the shortest possible time. You can really make use of your build volume effectively.
One user who tried to stack models on top of another in Cura said they failed at first because the first layer of the next model had nothing to adhere to. You can actually use supports to provide a good foundation for the model.
You can have your printer settings dialed in to have really good bed adhesion without having to worry about one failed print running the other prints.
The video below gives a great explanation on how you can stack your 3D prints in Cura.
You can also follow up with the results of the prints in the video below/
How to Combine 3D Prints in Cura
When you combine 3D prints, you want to print them as a single print and you can do this by dragging and dropping the files into the Cura window and then orienting them like you would when printing one item.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to combine models in Cura:
- Import your chosen STL files into Cura
- Go to Preferences and uncheck “Ensure Models are Kept Apart” & “Automatically Drop Models to the Build Plate” so you can freely move the models where you want them to be
- Select and drag the models on top of each other or by the side of each other as you choose
- Group the models to put them together so you can scale and move them together
- Slice the models
You can also combine 3D prints in Cura by first importing the model into Cura and then duplicating the model. The model will first appear by the side of the original model after which you will have to drag the duplicate model on top of the original model.
You can then proceed to work on the Cura settings and also ensure that you don’t leave too many gaps in between the models in Cura.
Here’s the layer view so you can see how they will print together. It would probably be better to create these models with 0% infill so there isn’t any collision or issues with the infill patterns between the models.
How to Add a Base to a 3D Model in Cura
To add a base to a 3D model in Cura, you can make a Raft and edit the Raft settings to provide a stable base as you desire. You can enable a Raft under the Build Plate Adhesion section in Cura, then simply select Raft from the dropdown menu. You can adjust the thickness, width, smoothness of the exterior, and more.
The Raft Extra Margin setting provides the Raft/base with more width.
You’ll have to select the “Expert” or “All” view/visibility to get access to these settings, or simply search for “Raft” using the Cura search function.
A key setting to adjust here is the Raft Air Gap because this tells the slicer to produce a gap between the raft and the model. I’d probably recommend using a value of 0 here, though I haven’t tried it myself so some testing could be useful.
You can also adjust the number of Raft Top Layers to increase the thickness/height of the Raft. The supports could potentially be an issue since you have to pull them off, and not take the model off the Raft.
If the model does come off the raft, you can simply superglue the model onto the Raft/base.
The issue with these bases though is they will be a very simple and elementary design, but if you want something a little more detailed and interesting, you can choose to add bases in a software called MeshMixer.
Check out the video below by Slice Print Roleplay to see how to add bases simply.