Infill is one of the most unique aspects of 3D printing. With basically no other manufacturing technology do you have the ability to set the internal density of a model to whatever value you want, whether it’s 100%, 0% (hollow), or anything in between.
Infill is primarily controlled by two settings in 3D slicer software program: infill density and infill pattern. The former is responsible for the “full-ness” of the model, while the infill pattern controls the 3D formation on the inside of the model that’s used to achieve the set infill density.
While you can’t see the infill pattern from the outside of a 3D print, it has major effects on your part, regarding its multi-dimensional strength, print time, and weight. Cura, one of the most popular 3D slicers, is home to 15 distinct infill patterns, each with their own balance between these three properties.
While there’s no one best infill pattern on Cura, if you’re looking to make strong models, the cubic, triangle, or gyroid patterns will be best. And, if you want to print detailed models, I advise you to use the grid or lines infill pattern as they’re simplistic in their design, making it easy for your printer to achieve high-detail models.
But, if you don’t have a preference between strength and detail, then either of these five should work just fine!
To learn about more of the best Cura infill patterns, just keep reading!
Table of Contents
- What is an Infill Pattern?
- Why is the Infill Pattern Important?
- Best Cura Infill Patterns
- Best Cura Infill Pattern for Strong Prints
- Best Cura Infill Pattern for Detailed Prints
- Best Cura Infill Pattern for Normal Prints
- Best Cura Infill Pattern for Flexible Prints
- Fastest Infill Pattern
What is an Infill Pattern?
In 3D printing, an infill pattern refers to the internal structure of a printed object, specifically the pattern used to fill the interior space of the object. Infill patterns can be used to control the strength, weight, and print time of a 3D printed object.
Setting the infill pattern, as well as the infill density, which is the other major setting related to infill, is done in your 3D slicer software. Almost every large 3D slicer, including Cura, PrusaSlicer, Simplify3D, and Slic3r, offers a handful of different infill patterns. The most common of these include grid, cubic, lines (sometimes called rectilinear), and triangles.
And, if you’re interested in observing the structure of an infill pattern, simply slice a 3D model and go to the layer view (“Preview” tab in Cura) in your 3D slicer, and move the layer number down a bit.
Why is the Infill Pattern Important?
The infill pattern is important for any 3D print because it affects three major parts of a 3D print including the following:
- The strength of the model
- How long the print takes (print time)
- The weight of the part (and filament consumption)
Additionally, the infill pattern also has an effect on the print difficulty, which is how complex the 3D model is for your machine to print. However, most people don’t consider this super important as most 3D printers today can handle any infill pattern thrown at them.
It’s also worth noting that all infill patterns have trade-offs. Moreover, no single infill pattern is absolutely, objectively better than every other infill pattern.
For example, the triangle infill pattern offers a lot of strength, but it’s a little bit above average when it comes to print time and filament consumption. On the other hand, the concentric and lightning infill patterns are the exact opposite!
Best Cura Infill Patterns
Below, I’ve gone over the best infill patterns. I’ve personally tested each of the 15 infill patterns available on Cura, and have determined that the seven options below are the best. Of course, not each infill pattern is the best at the same thing.
Some, such as the cubic and triangle, are most useful for strength, while others are better for fast printing, flexible models, or another purpose. Enjoy!
First up, the cubic pattern is my personal favorite infill pattern in Cura. The cubic infill structure consists of 3D triangles, that expand and contract as the layers go on. If this isn’t making much sense just look at the image below of the cubic arrangement:
Because the triangles span both the X/Y plane as well as the Z-axis, the cubic pattern provides excellent three-dimensional strength for parts. This point is further supported by the fact that the X/Y strength and Z-axis strength of parts printed in the cubic pattern is close to identical. As such, if you’re printing a model that requires strength from every direction, such as a spherical object, then the cubic infill pattern is a great option.
And, compared to other infill patterns, the cubic pattern isn’t abnormally time-consuming or heavy.
All-in-all, the cubic pattern is great for strength purposes, but it also can be used on standard models that don’t require strength.
Second, the grid infill pattern is just as it sounds: a 2D grid formation that spans the Z-axis of the print.
And, despite its simple design, this infill pattern offers one of the highest tensile strength values across the X/Y plane (AKA perpendicular strength) compared to almost any other option in Cura. Sadly, its strength across the Z-axis (AKA transverse strength) is a bit lower, which is why I don’t suggest using this pattern when strength is your top priority.
But what the grid pattern is useful for, though, is printing high-detail models or any part where print quality is essential. Moreover, because the pattern is super simple, 3D printers can handle it better than other, more-complex infill patterns. As such, fewer print quality issues arise when using the grid infill pattern.
Plus, because the grid pattern also is decently strong, it’s a great option for standard or normal 3D prints that don’t need to be especially strong or especially detailed.
The lightning pattern is by far the best option when you need a part printed ASAP. The pattern is one of the newest additions to Cura and is called “lightning” because it will have your print done in a flash.
So what makes it so speedy? Well, the lightning infill pattern is basically not an infill pattern at all. Moreover, if you slice a model in Cura with this pattern and go into the layer view mode, you’ll see that only a small amount of material has been added to the inside of your model.
And, unlike the other infill pattern options in Cura, the lightning pattern has no regard for the infill density percentage. This means that no matter what infill percentage you set, whether it’s 10% or 100%, your model (when sliced with this pattern) will be practically hollow.
Of course, the lightning pattern isn’t great for strength, but it chops your print time down significantly and, obviously, lowers the weight of the print too.
The gyroid infill pattern is one of the most popular options in Cura in recent years, beloved by 3D printing enthusiasts for its aesthetic look on 3D prints. It’s hard to describe this pattern’s design, but it’s basically a series of squiggly lines that run across the X and Y axes of the print bed.
The unique thing about the gyroid infill pattern is that parts printed with it will have equal strength across the horizontal and vertical planes. For reference, with any other infill pattern, the horizontal strength of the model will always be higher. Because of the gyroid’s pattern ability to provide omnidirectional strength, I highly recommend using it when printing models that require 3D strength.
However, do note that the design of this infill pattern is much more complicated than any other option on Cura. As such, it will be more difficult to print, and your machine might have issues. I was able to print it just fine on my original Creality Ender 3 (stock), though, so I think you should be fine.
Next, the triangle infill pattern is just like the grid infill pattern, but with 2D triangle shapes instead of a 2D grid (box) arrangement. The triangle pattern, following suit with the grid option, is very strong. In fact, this infill pattern is stronger across both the X/Y plane and the Z-axis than the grid infill pattern.
Unfortunately, though, the triangle pattern is both slower and heavier than the grid infill pattern, and many other options in Cura. But, the pattern is also decently simple, making it a great option for high-detail prints as well as standard/normal models.
Next, the concentric infill pattern is best used for flexible 3D prints. Moreover, this pattern consists of a series of 2D outlines of the model that are all unconnected to each other. This arrangement is super useful for printing parts in flexible filament (e.g. TPU, TPE) because the concentric outlines will allow the shell of the 3D print to fold inwards without breaking.
At low infill densities, the concentric infill pattern isn’t great for strength. But, it is very quick for printing and low in weight.
Lastly, the lines infill pattern is very similar to the grid pattern. The only difference is that the lines pattern doesn’t consist of a full 2D grid for each layer; instead, each layer printed with the lines pattern is basically one-half of a grid.
Because of this, the lines pattern is just a bit weaker, in both perpendicular and transverse strength, than the grid pattern. However, it’s still very simple (even more so, maybe), so it’s a great option for printing detailed models, like miniatures, where print quality is the most important factor.
Additionally, the lines pattern is one of the quickest options out there, so, when speed is required, consider using the lines infill pattern.
Best Cura Infill Pattern for Strong Prints
If you’re printing a 3D model that needs to be strong, like a door latch or bike part, then I strongly (get it?) suggest using the cubic, triangle, or gyroid infill patterns.
The cubic and gyroid patterns both provide excellent 3D strength, meaning parts printed with these patterns will be somewhat equally strong across the X/Y plane and the Z-axis. So, if you’re printing a model that needs strength from all directions, like a spherical object, then go for one of these two options.
On the other hand, the triangle infill pattern is more focused on strength across just the X/Y plane. Will its transverse (Z-axis) strength is also pretty good, it’s not as high as the Z-axis tensile strength of the cubic or gyroid options. Because of this, you might want to use the triangle pattern for printing models that only need to be strong in one direction.
Read our article on the strongest infill patterns to learn more.
Best Cura Infill Pattern for Detailed Prints
For detailed models, print quality is key. And, as it relates to infill patterns, the ones that yield the highest-quality prints are the simplest patterns as they have the least room for failure. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the grid and line patterns in Cura are the best for printing detailed models.
Moreover, both patterns are super simple; more so than any of the other available patterns. In fact, no non-straight or irregularly-shaped lines are involved in either the lines or grid infill patterns. As such, you can expect the best print quality when using these patterns, which will be visible in any high-detail models you’re printing.
Best Cura Infill Pattern for Normal Prints
If you’re like me and many other 3D printing enthusiasts, then the majority of the 3D models you print aren’t super detailed or require a ton of strength. Of the 15 available in Cura, the best infill pattern for these standard or normal 3D prints is the grid and triangle patterns.
Both patterns are overall great picks, with decent strength, a low print time, and low weight. As such, I suggest using them for any 3D prints that don’t have any super special purposes, like a glasses stand, cable holder, or something of that nature.
Best Cura Infill Pattern for Flexible Prints
If you’re using TPU, TPE, or another flexible filament material on your 3D printer, then you’ll definitely want to use an infill pattern that allows your 3D models to be flexible. Cura, the best one for flexible print jobs is the concentric pattern.
The concentric pattern consists of a set of concentric lines, outlining the 2D shape of each layer. The reason it’s so great for flexible prints is that these lines aren’t connected, so the outside layers of the model will very easily be pushed or folded inwards.
Fastest Infill Pattern
Lastly, the fastest infill pattern goes to the lightning option. The lightning infill pattern can be printed in a flash because it’s almost nonexistent as an infill pattern and adds very little material to the 3D print, no matter what value you set the infill density. So, if you need a model quick, and it doesn’t need to be strong at all, then the lightning pattern is the one for you!
While you might not be able to see it from the outside of a 3D print, the infill pattern has a big impact on the strength, weight, and print time of your model. And, luckily, Cura offers many different options for the infill pattern, each with their own properties and purpose.
The cubic and gyroid infill patterns are best for models that need to be strong in every direction. These patterns are a little bit more difficult to print and take up more time, but, if you’re printing a model that needs to be strong from all angles, then either of these patterns will work best. And, if you’re looking to print strong models, but don’t need the part to be strong from every direction, the triangle infill pattern on Cura is the best.
And, if you’re printing high-detail models, I suggest using either the grid or lines infill pattern as they’re simplistic in their design, so your print quality issues will be less likely.
Finally, if you’re printing just a regular model that doesn’t need to be particularly strong, flexible, fast, or detailed, then the grid or triangle patterns will both work perfectly!