Measuring Distances in Cura with Measure Tool Plugin

As measurements play a critical role when 3D printing a part, especially if it’s for functional purposes, which most likely means that the part has to have perfect sizing for it to fit into its place correctly, measuring the distances between different points of the 3D model will become necessary now and then.

In this guide, we will take you through the process of adding the Measuring Tool plugin to Cura and enabling it, and explain how you can use this plugin to measure the X, Y, and Z-axis distances between two points on the 3D models that you have imported into Cura.

How to Add & Enable the Measure Tool Plugin in Cura?

To add the Measure Tool plugin to your Cura installation, the first step you will need to take is to click the Marketplace button on the top-right corner of the Cura window, which will bring up a menu where you can find all the available Cura plugins.

Please note that you will need an Ultimaker account to access the Marketplace section, which you can create for free.

cura opening marketplace


Next, type “measure tool” into the search input (with quotation marks), and start the installation process for the Measure Tool by clicking the Install button on the right side of the entry.

cura measure tool plugin installation


Once that’s done, follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation process of the plugin, which involves accepting the license agreement for the installation to go through.

cura measure tool plugin license accepting


Finally, quit Cura and open it again, which is the last step you will need to take for the plugin to load and become ready to use.

restarting cura after plugin installation


Provided the plugin installation & activation has been successful, you should now see the Measure button (ruler icon) at the bottom of the left menubar.

cura measure tool installed and active


How to Use the Cura Measure Tool Plugin for Measuring Distances?

To measure the distance between two points on a 3D model in Cura, start by selecting the model you would like to take the measurement for by clicking on it, which should highlight it.

selecting 3d model in cura


Next, click the Measure button (ruler icon) located at the bottom of the left menubar, which will activate the Measure Tool plugin and allow you to see the X-axis, Y-axis, and Z-axis measurements on the pane that appears to the right of the left menubar.

cura measure tool installed and active


With the measuring functionality now active, choose the measurement unit of your choice from the Unit dropdown, where you have the options of micron, millimeter, centimeter, meter, inch, and feet available.

cura measure tool unit selection


Now, click two points on the 3D model that have some distance between them to get two black dots to appear, one for the from point and one for the to point, as clicking too closely to the first black dot will cause it to move to the new location instead of creating the second black dot.

using cura measure tool


Finally, drag the first black dot to the point where you would like the measurement to start and the second black dot to the point where you would like to measurement to end, which will allow you to see the X, Y, and Z distances between these two points by looking at the pane on the left side.

using cura measure tool


In a case where dragging the black dot to the target point proves to be difficult due to it being on another side of the 3D model that you cannot access without rotating the camera, you can use the Locking feature instead of dragging the dots, which can make things more convenient in such a scenario.

For this process, start by resetting the previous measurements using the Reset button on the pane, which should remove the black dots from the 3D model and bring all of the X, Y, and Z values back to 0.

cura measure tool resetting measurements


Next, click on the point first point of measurement to create the first black dot, and click the lock icon next to the From label on the pane to lock the first point in.

With the first point locked, the second time you click on the 3D model, regardless of how close the point you click is to the first point, the Measure Tool plugin will create the second black dot and prevent you from dragging the first black dot around until you unlock it.

cura measure tool locking the first point


Finally, place the second black dot at the location that will be the second point of measurement, which will allow you to see the X, Y, and Z distance values on the screen once again.

cura measure tool placing dots on opposite sides


While that wraps up the general usage process of the Measure Tool plugin for measuring the distance between any two points on any 3D model of your choice directly in Cura, there is one last feature you will find on the plugin window, which is a checkbox labeled Snap to model points.

cura measure tool activating snap to model points


When you enable the Snap to model points feature, you will find that the black dot automatically snaps to particular points on the 3D model, such as the corners, which can be a handy tool to place the measuring point in an exact location in cases where you need to take precise measurements.

cura measure tool snap to model points example


Additionally, you can disable the Snap to model points feature after placing only one of the dots, which makes it possible to make the first dot snap to a location and place the second dot in a more flexible way, which is something to keep in mind as well.

Conclusion

While Cura doesn’t come with the function to measure between two points of a 3D model out of the box, adding the Measuring Tool to bring this functionality to Cura is a pretty straightforward procedure that you can get done in less than a minute since Cura’s built-in plugin installer handles the majority of the process automatically.

As the Measuring Tool plugin integrates directly into the 3D viewer of Cura, practically as if it’s a built-in Cura feature, quickly obtaining the X, Y, and Z-axis measurements between any points in any unit of your choice, whether it’s millimeters, centimeters, or inches, is a breeze once you have the plugin added to your Cura installation, with no difficulties involved.