1. Introduction to vase-mode
  2. Advantages and limitations
    1. Limitations
      1. Only hollow prints
      2. Only 1 perimeter (external shell)
      3. Only one volume in the Z-axis
      4. Only one object at a time
      5. Not possible to print supports
    2. Advantages
      1. No Z-seam
      2. Improved surface quality
      3. Reduced chances of clogs
      4. Allows fa
      5. ster printing
  3. Vase-mode settings
    1. Layer heigth
    2. Extrusion width
    3. Nozzle diameter
    4. Printing speed
    5. Printing temperature
    6. Top and bottom layers
  4. Examples of models suitable for vase-mode printing
  5. How to activate vase mode in different slicers.
    1. Cura
    2. Simplify3D
    3. Prusaslicer


Introduction to vase-mode

In this article we are going to discuss one very useful FDM 3D printing technique that we can leverage to take advantage of our 3D printers: the vase-mode / spiral-mode.


As its name suggests the vase mode can be used to print object with vase-like shape, however is not limited to that.


In the normal 3D printing process, the model is divided in layers. This process is called slicing because is similar to cutting the model in slices. Then the 3D printer prints each slice on top of the next one. When one layer is finished the printer raises the Z-axes and prints the next layer on top


When printing in vase-mode however, the model is not divided in sliced but transformed into a spiral shape like a coil. You can see why this printing technique is sometimes referred as spiral model.

Advantages and limitations



Only hollow prints


The most obvious implication of using vase-mode is that the resulting printed part will be hollow. As the model is transformed in a sort of spiral, only the external perimeter will be printed. For that reason, when we select vase-mode the infill is automatically set to 0%.


Only 1 perimeter (external shell)


When using vase-mode the parts can only have 1 perimeter.


Only one volume in the Z-axis


Another limitation is that this printing method can only be used with models that has only one perimeter along the Z-axis. So is not possible to print objects which sectional view along the z-axis has more than one volume.

Only one object at a time


As a consequence of the previous limitation, only one model at a time can be printed when using vase-mode.


Not possible to print supports


Printing supports is not possible in vase-mode, so the model needs to be printable without supports.




No Z-seam


The main advantage of using vase mode is the absence of z-seam along the z-axis. The z-seam (also known as z-scar) is a common issue in FDM 3D printing that appear in the point where the layer changes. When the layer changes, the 3D printer needs to briefly stop it’s movement to rise the Z-axis. Despite being pretty fast this is enough to leave a little defect that can be seen along the z-axis.


This defect can appear aligned vertically or randomly distributed, depending on the printing settings, but is always recognisable. The Z-seam has only an impact on the aesthetics of the printed objects, but when printing decorative objects it can be very annoying.

When printing in vase-mode, the Z-axis is raised continuously during the whole printing job, therefore there is no Z-seam.


Improved surface quality


As a consequence of not having to stop the extrusion and the movement of the print-head in every layer to rise the Z-axis, the whole print job is performed in much smoother way. There are no stops and accelerations introducing vibrations and noise. The pressure in the hot-end is constant and the extrusion is more reliable and accurate. The extrusion temperature is also more stable.


These reasons contribute to improve the surface quality of the parts printed in vase mode, that can be really breathtaking.


Reduced chances of clogs


Clogs in 3D printing should not happen and if do so, is better to address the root cause. However, some times we may have problems using some filament in one printer, getting clog after clog. For example, flexible filaments are normally troublesome to print, specially in printers with Bowden extrusion system. Also, some composite filaments like wood or sand filaments are more prone to clog the printer. This clogs a lot of times happen during the retraction movements.


Because printing in vase-mode eliminates the need of retraction movements in every layer, we can use vase-mode to print filaments we are having clog problems with. So, if you have some filament that you gave up on, you can try to use it to print in vase-mode.


Allows faster printing


Given than the rest of settings are the same, vase mode is marginally faster than standard mode because, as we explained, there are no stops to increase Z height. But vase-mode also allows printing faster than standard mode, while maintaining the quality.


Vase-mode settings


Vase-mode is a more restricted printing mode and therefore the settings choice is more limited. However, the few settings that we can adjusted play an important role. With some practise, we can aim to master vase-mode and get beautiful prints.


Layer heigth


In vase-mode we can adjust our layer heigth, the same way we do in standard-mode. Smaller layer height will give us more detail at the cost of taking more time to print the object. However, there is also another less known feature affected by layer heigth: overhang printing performance.


As the previous picture demonstrates, smaller layer heights allow printing greater overhangs. This is very useful when printing objects in vase-mode because as we mentioned, in vase-mode is not possible to print supports. However, if we are printing in vase-mode some shape with big overhangs, and our printer is struggling to get the print job right, we can probably solve the problem by using smaller layer height.



In the same way, if we scale up the model while maintaining the other settings, the layer height relative to the scaled up model is smaller. So, again, if our printer struggles printing an overhang, we can makes the things better by scaling up the model.


We can use both techniques at the same time (to reduce layer heigth and scale up the model) for an ultimate improvement in overhang printing performance.


Extrusion width


As we mentioned, vase-mode doesn’t allow much setting because there is no infill and only one perimeter, however we can tune the width of the one existent perimeter. This is a good way to increase layer bonding and overall strength of our part. Normally, the maximum extrusion width is equal to the nozzle diameter, but the slicers allow to change this setting. To increase the strength of our parts we can go with 110% or 125% of the normal extrusion width. If we make this setting too high, the surface of the part will not look perfect, but we can play with this to produce parts with curious appearance.


Nozzle diameter


A great way to overcome the limitation of having 1 unique perimeter is to use a bigger nozzle diameter to print in vase-mode. We can install a 0.8 nozzle and print 0.8 width walls, that will be as strong as two 0.4 walls using a 0.4 nozzle.


Printing speed


Vase-mode normally allows faster printing, because the machine doesn’t need to stop in every layer and because the printing job is basically simpler, not needing to retract, accelerate and stop the print-head and reducing vibrations. So we can test our printer possibilities and print really fast while keeping astonishing quality.


Also, some materials can look different depending on the printing speed. For example, Silk PLA or wood composite filaments. So the speed can be a way to tune the looks of our printed parts.


Printing temperature


Extrusion temperature plays a role in layer bonding and also in the appearance of the parts. In order to get the best surface quality, we recommend to use temperatures in the low range of those recommend by the supplier of the filament. If want to increase layer bonding, we can raise the temperature. Also, if we want to print very fast is recommended to increase the temperature to allow better flowing of the material.


Also, some materials can change its final appearance depending on the extrusion temperature. Silk PLA filaments are included in this group. With these materials is a good idea to print some temperature test to find out what temperature delivers the desired finish before doing the actual print job.


Top and bottom layers


Vase-mode requires 0% infill parts but that doesn’t mean that we can’t print some layers in standard-mode before and after the vase-mode process.


If we are printing a cylinder for example, the top and the bottom can be printed in standard-mode while the body is printed in vase-mode.


However, take in count that the top layers will be supported by nothing, because the part will be hollow. We can overcome this limitation by increasing the number of top layers. FDM printers bridging capabilities are very impressive, so if we increase the number of top layers we can successfully close the upper part of models than seems impossible to close.


Examples of models suitable for vase-mode printing


As the name suggests vases are the best candidates to print in this setting, because it’s nature just matches the limitations of vase-mode printing. Vases, in fact are objects with one perimeter wall and no top and that makes them just perfect for this printing mode.

The possibilities of vase-mode printing don’t end here however, and we can apply to any geometry which surface can be converted to a spiral.

Here you have some examples of models that can be printed in vase mode with great results.

Christmas Tree (now with lamp base)

3D Print of Woman body optimised for vase mode

Simple Spannerhands Rocket (Vase Mode)

Wave Vase

Wavy vase

Figure 1: Vase Mode Optimized MOAI Planter / Vase


How to activate vase mode in different slicers.


In Cura the vase-mode can be activated from the “Special modes” section under the name “Spiralize

Outer Contour”




In Simplify3D the vase-mode can be activated in the “Layer” tab in the “Process Settings” menu. In this software the vase-mode is called “Sing outline corkscrew printing mode (vase mode)”




In Prusaslicer the vase-mode can be activated in the “Print Settings” tab in the “Vertical shells” section. In this software the vase-mode is called “Spiral vase”