Cura Settings for Printing TPU Filament – Detailed Guide

TPU filament can be a bit more tricky to print than what you are used to due to its elastic properties that you won’t find on other filaments, especially if you have been working exclusively with PLA and PETG until now, which we can consider to be filaments that are easier to print.

In this guide, we will go through the Cura parameters that require tweaking for printing with TPU and explain how you can optimally configure these parameters for both Bowden and Direct Drive extruders, hopefully making the printing process a breeze for you.

Additionally, as a bonus for Ender 3 users, we have included example TPU-optimized Cura settings for both the regular Ender 3’s (Bowden) and the Ender 3 S1 (Direct Drive) that you can use to get into the action right away!

Configuring Cura Settings for Printing TPU Filament

When adjusting your Cura settings specifically for printing TPU filament, you will need to tweak the material, print speed, printing temperature, build plate temperature, layer height, initial layer (speed, temperature, layer height), retraction (speed & distance), and fan speed parameters accordingly for a successful print.

Material

Switching the material is the first step you should take when configuring Cura settings for printing TPU, as this step will let Cura know that you’re currently using TPU and prompt it to load the default settings for the filament accordingly.

cura choosing tpu material


For this process, you will need to click the tab in the middle where the nozzle size and filament type are listed and choose TPU 95A, which is listed under the Generic section in the Material dropdown menu.

Print Speed

Using lower print speed values than usual is essential when printing with TPU, as the flexible nature of the filament can cause it to bend when quick movements are involved and potentially create a clog in the extruder.

cura print speed


For Bowden extruders, we recommend using a print speed value between 20 mm/s and 30 mm/s when printing with TPU, which should be slow enough to refrain from bending the filament while maintaining acceptable print times.

On the other hand, for Direct Drive extruders, you can use a print speed value in the range of 30 mm/s to 40 mm/s instead, which is considerably higher in comparison since the absence of a Bowden tube makes it much less likely for the filament to jam the extruder during movement.

Once you find a print speed value that allows you to print TPU without issues, discovering the highest print speed value where no clogging issues occur should be the next goal for the most time-efficient configuration, which often requires a process of increasing the print speed incrementally across test prints and observing the results.

Printing Temperature

Changing the printing temperature is necessary whenever you switch to a new type of filament (or even a different brand of the same type), and TPU is no exception, as the melting temperature of each material is unique.

cura printing temperature


While the standard range of printing temperatures for TPU is between 210°C and 250°C, this is a rather wide range that may not apply to every single spool of filament due to potential differences in their chemistry and how they are manufactured.

For instance, the suggested printing temperature range for the TPU (95A) filament produced by one of the most popular filament manufacturers, eSUN, is 230°C to 250°C, as visible on the official website.

On the other hand, the suggested printing temperature for the TPU (95A) filament from another widely known brand, SUNLU, is 205°C to 230°C, once again taken directly from the manufacturer’s website.

Even though the printing temperatures for both filaments satisfy the range of 210°C to 250°C, printing the eSUN TPU at 210°C most likely won’t work while you won’t have any problems with the SUNLU TPU at this temperature, which demonstrates why it would be wrong to use this range for every TPU.

As a result, our primary recommendation when configuring the printing temperature is to consult the manufacturer’s suggestion and stay in this range whenever possible, which will practically guarantee that the printing temperature does not create a problem for you.

In cases where there is no official printing temperature range, we recommend using 230°C (the standard of the general range) as the starting point, which should drastically reduce the likelihood of facing temperature-related issues.

From there, increase the temperature incrementally if you’re experiencing under-extrusion (poor adhesion, gaps in print, etc.) or decrease the temperature incrementally if you’re experiencing over-extrusion (stringing, dimensional inaccuracies, etc.) until you find the perfect value.

Additionally, you can print a temperature tower to make the printing temperature calibration process a whole lot more convenient, as this will allow you to see the effects of different temperatures on a single 3D-printed model.

temperature tower preview


Build Plate Temperature

Similar to the printing temperature, the build plate temperature is a parameter that requires adjustments by default whenever you change the filament you’re using, as the glass transition temperature of each material is different.

cura build plate temperature


While it’s entirely possible to print TPU without a heated build plate, with some manufacturers recommending not to use bed heating even when it’s present, the standard build plate temperature range for printing with TPU filament range is 40°C to 60°C.

Once again, similar to the printing temperature, the best way to configure the build plate temperature value is to use the manufacturer’s suggestion and always stay within this range of temperature values.

Following the example from the previous section, we can see that SUNLU states that there is no need to use bed heating when printing with their TPU on their webpage.

On the other hand, eSUN recommends using either a temperature value in the range of 45°C to 60°C or shutting the bed heating off completely when printing with their TPU, once again showing us that different manufacturers can have distinct suggestions.

Finally, if the manufacturer of the filament you’re using has not specified an optimal build temperature range or value, we recommend using 50°C as a starting point, where it’ll be pretty unlikely to face problems related to bed heating.

From there, increase the temperature incrementally if you’re observing signs of low build plate temperature, such as poor bed adhesion, or decrease the temperature incrementally if you’re observing signs of too high build plate temperature, such as elephant’s foot or the print sticking way too firmly.

Layer Height

Since layer height is just as much of a factor that affects the filament flow rate as print speed, using a low layer height value when printing TPU is best to avoid clogs that the flexible nature of TPU filament can cause.

cura layer height


As a result, we recommend using a layer height value between 25% to 40% of your printer’s nozzle size for printing TPU, which corresponds to the lower end of the spectrum of all the possible layer height values (25% to 80% of the nozzle size).

For instance, if your printer is equipped with a standard 0.4 mm nozzle, the layer height value should be between 0.1 mm and 0.16 mm (don’t forget to round the final value to a magic number for your printer) for optimal results.

Additionally, since print speed and layer height (line width as well) directly impact the max volumetric flow of the filament, you will usually want to use lower print speed values with higher layer height values and vice versa to avoid increasing or decreasing it way too much.

As an example, if you found success with a 0.12 mm layer height, 24 mm/s print speed, and 0.4 mm line width, you should reduce the print speed to 18 mm/s if you would like to print with a layer height value of 0.16 mm instead, (line width stays the same) which will keep the max volumetric flow stable at 1.152 mm^3/s between these two sets of configurations.

cura 0.12 layer height tpu cura 0.16 layer height tpu

Following the example, you can see that the print times are equal despite the layer height values being different in the two images above, as we have compensated for the change in layer height by reducing the print speed, which kept the max volumetric flow stable.

Retraction (Speed & Distance)

The flexibility of TPU makes optimally configuring retraction a challenging process, as too little of it will lead to considerable stringing, and too much of it will potentially create clogging.

In the case of Bowden extruders, even enabling retraction with TPU is a big problem in itself, as the back-and-forth movements of the filament during retracting and priming make it highly likely for the filament to bend within the PTFE tube and cause a clog.

As the probability of a clog is a critical threat to the success of the print, we recommend turning retraction off completely for printers with Bowden extruders to completely avoid such issues and solve the stringing problem by utilizing different methods.

cura disable retraction


Our primary suggestion to deal with the stringing problem that will inevitably occur in the absence of retraction is to enable the Combing feature and to set it to Within Infill, which will instruct the printer to always avoid traveling over the printed parts except when it’s printing the infill.

As the nozzle will never travel over the empty spaces that will still be visible (inner walls & skin) after the print is done with this setting enabled (even if this instruction causes the travel path to be much longer than the default), stringing will be significantly reduced.

cura combing


If Combing alone does not solve the stringing problem, another feature you can enable in Cura is Coasting, which essentially tells your printer to cut the flow of plastic slightly earlier and attempt to finish off an extrusion path with the material that inadvertently oozes out of the nozzle.

That being said, as incorrectly configuring Coasting can lead to under-extrusion, you will likely need to experiment with this feature before you can completely benefit from it.

cura coasting


Finally, you can try printing with slightly lower printing temperatures to see if it solves the stringing problem, especially if you’ve been printing at the higher end of the suggested temperature range, as printing at high temperatures is one of the primary factors that can exacerbate stringing.

On the other hand, while you can enable retraction for printers with Direct Drive extruders, as the absence of the PTFE tube makes it possible to retract and prime the filament without issues to a certain extent, you’ll still need to use much less retraction compared to a regular filament such as PLA.

With this in mind, our recommendation for the retraction distance value would be to stay between the range of 0.5 mm to 1.5 mm, which should pull the TPU just enough to minimize stringing without causing any problems.

cura retraction-distance


On the other hand, for retraction speed, the range we recommend using is 20 mm/s to 40 mm/s, which should be quick enough to pull the filament back in time but not so quick that it would grind it.

cura retraction-speed


Finally, to fully optimize your retraction settings and find the point where retraction minimizes stringing as much as possible without causing issues with the movement of the filament, you can experiment by printing retraction test models with different speed and distance values.

Fan Speed

Fortunately, configuring the fan speed for the purposes of printing with TPU filament is a pretty straightforward process that won’t take much of your time, as TPU is a type of material that barely requires any cooling for a successful print.

cura fan speed


In our own tests, we have found TPU to print the best with a fan speed of value of 0%, both in terms of layer adhesion and visual quality, with high speeds distorting the shape of the print as the air from the cooling fan hits the print.

That being said, introducing some part cooling into the mix can be a good idea (preferably no more than 25-30%) for cases where you end up printing TPU with nozzle temperatures that are higher than the average, as the molten plastic can end up drooping too much at higher temperatures before it solidifies and end up reducing the visual quality of your print.

On the other hand, when printing overhangs and bridges, you will likely want to increase the fan speed value, as overhangs and bridges will require cooling to solidify before they start sagging.

In this case, you can use 50% as a starting point for the fan speed value and increase it incrementally until you find the value where the overhangs and bridges cool down quickly enough not to sag, with it being perfectly fine to go all the way up to 100% if necessary.

Additionally, to make the calibration process easier, you can print overhang tests and bridge tests at different fan speeds, which will allow you to see precisely how different lengths of bridges and overhangs look with various fan speed values.

overhang & bridge test preview


Initial Layer Settings (Height & Speed & Temperature)

Configuring the initial layer settings optimally for TPU practically comes down to increasing the temperature and the layer height for better build plate adhesion while slowing the print speed down to compensate for the increase in the layer height.

cura initial layer height


Starting off, our recommendation for the initial layer height value is 70% to 75% of the nozzle size, which will provide an initial layer large enough for the print to adhere to the bed strongly.

For instance, with a 0.4 mm nozzle, the initial layer height value should be between 0.28 mm and 0.3 mm (don’t forget to round the final value to a magic number for your printer) for optimal results.

cura initial layer speed


When it comes to initial layer speed, using a value between 10 mm/s to 20 mm/s should be ideal for Bowden extruders, and a value between 20 mm/s and 30 mm/s should be suitable for Direct Drive extruders.

The reason behind the usage of an even slower print speed for the first layer is to compensate for the increase in the layer height, as this will practically allow the first layer to be printed at the same effective speed as the rest of the model but with better adhesion.

cura printing temperature initial layer


Finally, for the initial layer temperature, we recommend increasing the printing temperature you’re using by 10 degrees (make sure to stay in the recommended printing temperature range).

Increasing the print temperature for the initial layer will increase the strength of bed adhesion and ensure that your print does not come off the build plate during printing.

Example Cura TPU Settings for Ender 3 (V2 & Pro & Neo)

Below, you can find the Cura settings we recommend using for printing TPU with a Bowden extruder Ender 3, which includes models such as the Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Pro, and Ender 3 (& V2) Neo.

  • Print Speed: 30 mm/s
  • Printing Temperature: 230°C
  • Build Plate Temperature: 60°C
  • Layer Height: 0.12 mm (default 0.4 mm nozzle)
  • Retraction: Off
  • Fan Speed: 0% (increase for overhangs)
  • Initial Layer Height: 0.28 mm
  • Initial Layer Speed: 10 mm/s
  • Printing Temperature Initial Layer: 240°C

Example Cura TPU Settings for Ender 3 S1

Below, you can find the Cura settings we recommend using for printing TPU with the Ender 3 S1, which is the only Ender 3 that comes with a Direct Drive extruder by default.

  • Print Speed: 40 mm/s
  • Printing Temperature: 230°C
  • Build Plate Temperature: 60°C
  • Layer Height: 0.12 mm (default 0.4 mm nozzle)
  • Retraction Speed: 30 mm/s
  • Retraction Distance: 1 mm
  • Fan Speed: 0% (increase for overhangs)
  • Initial Layer Height: 0.28 mm
  • Initial Layer Speed: 20 mm/s
  • Printing Temperature Initial Layer: 240°C

Conclusion

Now that you have a solid starting point for configuring your Cura settings in a way that will allow you to print TPU without issues, you can freely enjoy the unique properties that TPU brings to your prints, whether it’s printing a flexible toy to play with or something more functional like a phone case.

On the other hand, don’t be discouraged if it feels like successfully printing TPU is an impossible task despite your adjustments, as finding the settings that work for the printer and the filament you’re using all comes down to constantly iterating and improving the print settings based on the results you observe, which can take some time.