Cura & PrusaSlicer are two popular slicers for 3D printing, but people wonder which is better. I decided to write an article to give you the answers to this question so you know what slicer would work best for you.
Both Cura & PrusaSlicer are great options for 3D printing and it’s hard to say that one is better than the other for 3D printing. It mainly comes down to user preference because they can both do most things that are required, but there are some slight differences such as speed, extra functionality, and print quality.
This is the basic answer but there’s more information you’ll want to know, so keep reading on.
Tree supports in PrusaSlicer is called Organic supports.
What Are the Main Differences Between Cura & PrusaSlicer?
- User Interface
- PrusaSlicer Also Supports SLA Printers
- Cura has More Tools & Features – More Advanced
- PrusaSlicer is Better for Prusa Printers
- Cura has Tree Supports & Better Supports Function
- Prusa is Faster at Printing & Sometimes Slicing
- Prusa Creates Tops & Corners Better
- Prusa Creates Supports More Accurately
- Cura’s Preview Function & Slicing is Slower
- PrusaSlicer May Estimate Printing Times Better
- It Comes Down to User Preferences
One of the main differences between Cura & PrusaSlicer is the user interface. Cura has a more modern, cleaner look, while PrusaSlicer has a traditional and simplified look.
Some users prefer the look of Cura, while others like how PrusaSlicer looks so it’s really down to user preference which one you would go for.
Here’s what Cura looks like.
Here’s what PrusaSlicer looks like.
PrusaSlicer Also Supports SLA Printers
One of the most significant differences between Cura & PrusaSlicer is that PrusaSlicer can support resin SLA machines as well. Cura only supports filament 3D printing, but PrusaSlicer can do both, and very well.
The picture below shows PrusaSlicer’s resin features works. You simply load your model on the build plate, choose whether to hollow your model and add holes, add supports, then slice the model. It’s a very simple process and it creates SLA supports pretty well.
Cura has More Tools & Features – More Advanced
Cura definitely has more features and functionality behind it.
One user mentioned that Cura does have more advanced features, as well as a set of Experimental settings which PrusaSlicer doesn’t have. One of those key ones he mentioned was the Tree Supports.
Tree Supports used to be an Experimental setting, but since users loved it so much, it became part of the normal supports selection.
Most users probably won’t have many uses for the Experimental features, but it’s a great set of unique abilities to have to try new things out. There are definitely some useful settings in there for some projects.
Some examples of current Experimental settings are:
- Slicing Tolerance
- Enable Draft Shield
- Fuzzy Skin
- Wire Printing
- Use Adaptive Layers
- Wipe Nozzle Between Layers
The slicing tolerance is a really good one for parts that have to fit or slide together, and setting it to “Exclusive” will ensure layers stay in the bounds of the object so parts can fit into each other and slide past each other.
PrusaSlicer has definitely been catching up in what it can offer for 3D printing though. Check out the video below by Maker’s Muse who goes through how to control every setting in a newer version of PrusaSlicer.
PrusaSlicer is Better for Prusa Printers
PrusaSlicer is a slicer that is properly tuned specifically for Prusa 3D printers, so if you have a Prusa machine, you will find that PrusaSlicer is mostly better than Cura.
If you do prefer to use Cura, the good thing is that you can still import Prusa profiles directly into Cura, but there are some limitations.
You can learn how to import profiles to Cura by using this article from Prusa. You can use PrusaSlicer with an Ender 3 and you can use Cura with a Prusa i3 MK3S+.
One user who tried importing a PrusaSlicer profile into Cura mentioned that they couldn’t tell the difference between the two PLA 3D prints they created from both slicers
This shows that PrusaSlicer and Cura are pretty similar in terms of print quality alone, so the differences and deciding which is better is mainly going to be from features and user preferences.
One user recommends using PrusaSlicer over Cura, but they mentioned that in the past, Cura had some more features that PrusaSlicer didn’t have. Over time, PrusaSlicer has been adding similar features and have mostly caught up with the feature gaps.
If you happen to have a Prusa Mini, there’s more reason to use PrusaSlicer because it requires extra G-Code within the printer profile. They actually tried to 3D print without using PrusaSlicer with their Prusa Mini and almost broke their 3D printer due to them not understanding G-Code.
Cura has Tree Supports & Better Supports Function
One key difference in the features between Cura & PrusaSlicer is tree supports. One user mentioned that when they need to use supports for 3D prints, they would go to Cura instead of PrusaSlicer.
Based on this, it seems like Cura has more functionality when it comes to creating supports, so it may be better for users to stick with Cura in this case.
Another user who has tried both PrusaSlicer and Cura said they prefer to use Cura, mainly due to having more custom options available, as well as having Tree Supports.
You can try to create supports similar to Tree Supports in PrusaSlicer by using the SLA supports, then saving the STL and reimporting that file into the normal filament view and slicing it without supports.
Cura has a support interface that makes it easier to produce successful results compared to PrusaSlicer, especially with functional 3D prints.
A user said that for supports with single-layer separation, Cura could handle it well, but PrusaSlicer couldn’t, but this is quite a unique and uncommon case.
One user who compared Cura to PrusaSlicer said that the slicer which is better really depends on what you want to do and what requirements you have of the model.
PrusaSlicer is Faster at Printing & Sometimes Slicing
Cura is known to be quite slow at slicing models, as well as printing the actual models due to the way it processes layers and settings.
Shown in the video below by Make With Tech, he found that PrusaSlicer’s print speed is about 10-30% faster than Cura for the same 3D models with default settings. The two models didn’t have much of a noticeable difference either.
It seems that PrusaSlicer is more geared towards speed and have finer tuned profiles for that.
The model he shows in the video has Cura printing it in about 48 minutes, while PrusaSlicer printed it in about 40 minutes, an 18% faster 3D print. The total time though, which includes heating and other starting processes showed that PrusaSlicer was faster by 28%.
I put in a 3D Benchy into both Cura & PrusaSlicer and found that Cura gives a print time of 1 hour and 54 minutes, while PrusaSlicer gives 1 hour and 49 minutes for the default profiles, so it’s pretty similar.
The actual time it takes for Cura to slice models is said to be slower than PrusaSlicer. I actually loaded up a lattice 3D Benchy scaled at 300% and it took pretty much exactly 1 minute and 6 seconds for both models to slice and show the Preview.
In terms of printing times, PrusaSlicer takes 1 day and 14 hours while Cura takes 2 days and 3 hours with the default settings.
Prusa Creates Tops & Corners Better
Cura definitely has more tools than any other slicers out there and is being updated/developed at a much faster rate, so it’s a more powerful slicer.
On the other hand, other slicers can actually do some things better than Cura can.
One example that he mentioned is that Prusa is better than Cura at doing the corners and tops of 3D prints. Even though Cura has a setting called Ironing which supposedly makes tops and corners better, Prusa still outperforms it.
Check out the image below to see the differences.
Prusa Creates Supports More Accurately
Another thing that Prusa does really well above Cura is the supports routine. Rather than ending supports on whole layer heights like Cura, PrusaSlicer can end supports at sub layer heights, making them more accurate.
Cura’s Preview Function & Slicing is Slower
One user personally doesn’t like the user interface for Cura, especially the Preview function being slow to load.
Both slicers have the important settings and features built into them so using either one should bring success, and they both work for any FDM 3D printer. He recommends choosing PrusaSlicer unless you specifically want to use a unique feature from Cura.
Cura is a more advanced slicer, but another user doesn’t like the way they display their settings, especially since there are a lot of them. They mentioned that it can be difficult to figure out what went wrong with a 3D print based on the user interface.
PrusaSlicer May Estimate Printing Times Better
In terms of the estimates that Cura provide, one user stated that they were consistently longer than what PrusaSlicer gave.
He figured out that the times that Cura give are usually longer than the estimated time thy give, while PrusaSlicer estimates are accurate within the minute or so, both for shorter and longer prints.
This is one example that Cura doesn’t accurately estimate printing times compared to PrusaSlicer, so if time estimates are important to you, PrusaSlicer might probably be a better option.
On the other hand, the Make With Tech video above compared the slicing times of both slicers and found that the main difference of printing estimates comes about from travel and retractions.
When Cura has a lot of travel and retractions during the printing process, it might not be so accurate with the estimates, but for 3D prints that are denser, it is fairly accurate.
For the speed of prints for both PrusaSlicer and Cura, someone mentioned that in some cases, when they slice a model for a Prusa machine on PrusaSlicer, it prints faster, while when they slice a model for an Ender machine on Cura, it prints faster.
They did also say that the PrusaSlicer parts had more stringing due to the travel movements. Cura didn’t have this stringing due to little maneuvers that Cura does during travels to decrease tension on the filament.
Another user said they have both an Ender 3 V2 and a Prusa i3 Mk3S+, making use of both slicers. Instead, he mentioned that it’s the actual printer’s that reported inaccurate, with the Ender 3 V2 being inaccurate and the Prusa i3 Mk3S+ being extremely accurate, down to the second.
Cura Has Themes
PrusaSlicer Has a Better Variable Layer Height Process
PrusaSlicer’s Variable Adaptive Layer Height works better than Cura’s Experimental Adaptive Layers setting, since it has more control over how the layer heights vary.
Cura’s version does work well for more functional 3D prints, but I think PrusaSlicer does it better. Check out the video below to see how it works.
Check out a video of Cura’s Adaptive Layers to see it in action. It produced a time savings of 32% for the YouTuber, ModBot.
It Comes Down to User Preferences
One user who has used both PrusaSlicer and Cura said that they regularly switch to Cura when PrusaSlicer doesn’t perform as well, and vice versa. They mentioned that each slicer does some specific things better than the other by default, but overall, they are similarly tuned for most 3D printers.
Another user mentioned that the main question shouldn’t be if one is better than the other, and it more so comes down to user preference. He said he currently prefers Cura but chooses to go between Cura and PrusaSlicer depending on the specific model, and what he wants from the slicer.
He suggests that you try out both slicers and see what you’re most comfortable with.
Some people prefer to use PrusaSlicer because they like the user interface better. When it comes to fine-tuning the important settings that make a difference in the printer’s performance, the parameters are easier to find.
Cura Vs PrusaSlicer – Features
- Custom Scripts
- Cura Marketplace
- Experimental Settings
- Many Material Profiles
- Different Themes (Light, Dark, Colorblind Assist)
- Multiple Preview Options
- Preview Layer Animations
- Over 400 Settings to Adjust
- Regularly Updated
- Free & Open Source
- Clear & Simple User Interface
- Custom Supports
- Modifier Meshes – Adding Features to Different Parts of STL
- Supports Both FDM & SLA
- Conditional G-Code
- Smooth Variable Layer Height
- Color Change Prints & Preview
- Send G-Code Over Network
- Paint-on Seam
- Print Time Feature Breakdown
- Multiple-Language Support
Cura Vs PrusaSlicer – Pros & Cons
- Settings menu can be confusing at first
- User interface has a modern look
- Has frequent updates and new features implemented
- The hierarchy of settings is useful since it automatically adjusts settings when you make changes
- Has a very basic slicer settings view so beginners can get started quickly
- Most popular slicer
- Easy to get support online and has many tutorials
- Settings are in a scroll menu which may not be categorized in the best manner
- Search function is fairly slow to load
- G-Code preview and output sometimes produce slightly different results, such as producing gaps where there shouldn’t be, even when not under extruding
- Can be slow to 3D print models
- Needing to search for settings can be tedious, though you can create a custom view
- Has a decent user interface
- Has good profiles for a range of 3D printers
- The Octoprint integration is done well, and it’s possible to image previews with a few edits and an Octoprint plugin
- Has regular improvements and function updates
- Lightweight slicer that’s faster to operate
- Supports are created well, but in some cases they don’t go in the location that users want
- Doesn’t have tree supports
- No option to smart hide seams in models