Printing collapsible lightsabers and swords


Welcome to the world of 3D printed collapsible swords and lightsabers! Whether you're a novice or seasoned hobbyist, this guide aims to provide comprehensive instructions to ensure your prints are successful. We’ll touch upon printing methods, and common issues you might face while printing my designs. Before we start, I recommend checking out the end of this guide for a list of key terms and their definitions to help you understand it better.

Please note: The settings and screenshots provided are starting points based on my specific printer and slicer (Orca) settings. You may need to adjust them based on the type of printer you have and the slicer program you use.

Types of Print Methods
Before you start printing, it's important to choose the best print method for your sword. Each sword/lightsaber typically has two print methods:

  1. Print-in-place: This design allows the hilt and the blade to be printed at once as a single part.
    • Single Color: This method only allows you to print in one color.
    • Multi-Color: For those with multi-color printers such as an AMS, MMU, Toolchanger or a IDEX and want to print with multiple colours.
  2. Removable Blade: The blade is be printed separately from the hilt in this design, allowing you to easily replace a blade segment if it breaks.
    • Hilt
  • Single Color: This option is great if you want a hilt in one solid color. It's a classic choice for a clean and simple look.
  • Multi-Color: For those with multi-color printers such as an AMS, MMU, Toolchanger or a IDEX and want to print with multiple colours.
  • Multi-Part: For those who want to print the hilt in multiple pieces in different colors and glued together.
  • Blades
    • Vase Mode: This method prints the blades in one continuous spiral.
    • Concentric: This technique involves printing the blades all at once, two shells thick.

The hilt serves as the grip for on your sword or lightsaber. This section provides guidance on a few printing settings for hilts.


  • Original lightsaber and sword designs don't require additional supports.
  • A few models come with small built-in supports, so you won't need to turn on any support options in your slicer software.

 Wall and Infill Settings:

  • Due to the slender design of the hilts, wall thickness and infill percentages are less important than for other prints. However, the settings I get the best print from are:
    • Set wall thickness to 2 walls.
    • Adjust infill to 15%.

Printing Parameters:

  • Optimal nozzle and layer settings for hilts based on my experience:
    • Nozzle: .4mm
    • Layer Height: .2mm


The blade is an important part of your sword or lightsaber. Here, you'll find guidance on printing settings for different ways to print your blade.


Types of Blade Print Methods

Each blade for a sword or lightsaber typically has two primary print methods:

  1. Vase Mode:
  • This method prints objects in one continuous spiral.
  • Only the outer wall is printed. There are no infill or top layers.
  • The printer keeps moving upwards while printing, forming a spiral pattern.
  • Since there is no layer seam, the blade will be stronger and looks cleaner.
  • Adjusting your printer line width allows you to tune your blade to the desired length.

 When printing blades in vase mode, sequential printing can be used to print all the blades together in one print instead of one at a time, making the process more efficient.

Note: Advanced setting must be turned on in your slicer to see a lot of some of the settings I go over.

 Concentric Printing:

  • This method prints the blades all together.
  • Its less work to setup in your slicer but since there is a layer seam, it may be more difficult to tune.

Vase Mode Printing

STL Files: For printing in vase mode, each blade has its own STL file. These files are solid, so the slicer doesn't try to print the inside edge.

TIP: Print the hilt and the last two blade segments first. This will allow you to test the last blade in the hilt and the two blades together. 

Typically you will find the vase mode option under the Special Modes section of your slicer settings. Depending on the slicer you use, you may need to look up what your slicer calls the vase mode option.

Example: In Orca vase mode is called Spiral Vase, but in Cura vase mode is called Spiralize Outer Contour.

Once you know what your slicer calls vase mode, check the box next to the setting to turn it on. I also set my brim type outer brim which allows for better bed adhesion.

Screenshot 1: A photo of my vase mode setting box checked and my brim type set to outer brim.

Top and Bottom Layers: For every blade segment, except the first, turn off the top and bottom fill layers. Keep the layers on for the first blade segment to make sure the blade's tip is covered.

2: A photo of my layer height settings set to 0.25mm and my line width settings set to 0.95mm

Line Width: At 100% scale, I start with a line width of .90mm. If the blades don’t fit properly, adjust the line width little by little until they fit. Begin by printing the hilt and the last two segments of the blade. Doing this lets you check how well the end of the blade fits into the hilt and how the two blade pieces connect. .4mm of line width will equal about 10mm of blade length per segment.

  • If the blades are too long, increase the line width.
  • If they are too short, decrease the line width.
  • Ensure that the blade extends or overlaps by approximately 50mm.

Layer Heights: I print in vase mode using a .4mm nozzle and .25mm layer height. Print at a slower speed to allow for better cooling, especially on the smaller segments.

Screenshot 3: A photo of my wall loop setting being set at 1 and my top and bottom layers and infill set to 0.


When you change the size (or scale) of your print, remember to adjust the line width accordingly.

For example: If you reduce the print size to 50%, also reduce the line width by half. So, from 0.9mm, it becomes 0.45mm.


Speed: In vase mode, I typically print between 20 and 60 mm/s, but it depends on how effectively your cooling system can keep the print cool. Faster speeds may require better cooling to prevent issues.

Screenshot 4: A photo of my speed settings. The first layer is sec to 20mm/s and my outer wall is sec to 30mm/s.

Concentric Printing

STL Files: For concentric printing, all the blades are in a single STL file.

 Note: Ensure your settings are fine-tuned to prevent the blades from fusing together. Pay special attention to the first layer, the seam between layers, and the calibration of your extruder.

Line Width: Begin with a nozzle size of 0.4mm and a line width of 0.43mm. This ensures the blades are double-layered or have two walls of thickness.

Concentric/Print-in-Place Test Print

Before diving into the full blade assembly, always run a test print. When you can successfully print the test with nothing attaching the rings together you are ready to print the complete sword.

Height Adjustments: The test print stands 24mm tall.  Print multiples and change your settings every print. Comparing the prints will help you pinpoint the best settings for your printer.

The settings that will most effect your test print quality is flowrate, retraction distance/speed, coast, wipe, and extra restart distance. If you do not see a change while adjusting the settings mentioned above, try adjusting the seam location, speed, temperature, and z-hop.

Printer Specific Tips: While every printer varies, here are some of my insights:

  • Rep-rap printers: I found that using a negative “extra restart” distance helps in reducing the size of the layer seam.
  • MK3: Focusing on coast and wipe settings yielded significant improvements.

Note: if your test print sticks only at the first layer that is a because your first layer is to low causing “elephants’ foot”.

When scaling up in concentric mode, the wall thickness increases evenly, making sure the object keeps its structural integrity. This means you can scale up your design without needing to change your nozzle.

 However, if you choose to scale down, the wall thickness decreases, which can pose a printing challenge with a .4mm nozzle. For smaller scales, you'll need to switch to a nozzle that's at least half the thickness of the reduced wall. For example, if you're aiming for a blade at 75% of its original scale, it's recommended to use a 0.3mm nozzle.


3D printing collapsible swords and lightsabers, offers both challenges and rewards. Remember, like any craftsmanship, practice is key. Whether you're wielding a lightsaber or brandishing a blade, the joy of 3D printing lies in the journey as much as the finished product. Keep exploring, keep innovating, and may your 3D adventures be ever rewarding. Happy printing!

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  1. Why did my print fuse?
  • Only on the first layer: Check your first layer height.
  • Only on the layer seams: Tune the test print, focusing on retraction settings.
  • All around: Calibrate your extruder. Tune the test print, checking the flow rate or “horizontal size compensation”.
  1. Why don’t my blades interlock correctly when printing in vase mode?
  • Too loose: Increase your “intrusion width”.
  • Too tight: Decrease your “line width” or inspect for an elephant's foot.
  • If the largest blade slides out of the hilt, scale up all the blades.
  1. Why are the vase mode files not hollow?
  • This design ensures the slicer doesn't create an inner perimeter
  1. Why is my pommel breaking?
  • Add more top and bottom layers.
  1. Do I need to change my nozzle to print in vase mode?
  • No, a 0.4mm nozzle can print a 0.85mm line width effectively in vase mode.
  1. When I print the blades in vase mode, why are they rough, especially the smaller blades?
  • The likely issue is cooling since you're printing one blade at a time. Reduce the print speed.
  1. Why don't my blades extend very far?
  • Check for an elephant's foot (burr) on the inside of the blades, caused by the first layer being too low. You can remove it using an exacto knife.

Key Terms and Definitions

If you're new to 3D printing or just looking to brush up on some terminology, this section is for you. Understanding the terms below will not only make it easier to follow this guide but also help progress your overall 3D printing journey.

Brim – A thin border around the object. It helps the print stick to the bed.

Elephant Foot – If the first layer of the print bulges out a bit, that’s called an “elephant foot.” It can happen if the nozzle is too close to the printing surface.

Extruder Calibration – Checking to see how much filament is going into the hot end versus how much filament the extruder thinks being use.

Extrusion Width (Line Width) - The width of the material coming out of the printer. It can be wider than the printer's nozzle but not thinner.

Infill – The amount the inside of the print will be filled in. For foldable swords, it's not a big concern, but generally, it's good to fill 10-15% of the inside.

Layer Height – The height of each printed layer. I suggest between 0.15mm and 2mm.

Nozzle Diameter - The tiny hole size on the printer's nozzle.


  • Speed: How fast the printer pulls the filament from the nozzle. It's usually done at a speed of 30-40mm per second.
  • Distance: How far the filament is drawn back from the nozzle. If you set this too high, it can block the nozzle, known as a "heat creep clog".
  • Extra Restart Distance: After the filament is pulled back, this determines how much is pushed forward again. If you set it to a negative number, it can help the print look better at the start of a new layer. But, if this is set too high, there will be a gap at the seam. This is usually set between 0.02-0.08mm.
  • Wipe: This is the short distance (usually 1-3mm) before starting a new layer where the printer stops releasing the filament. It helps to make the print look cleaner.


Z-Seam - The point where the 3D printer starts a new layer along the vertical axis (the Z-axis). This transition from one layer to the next is where the printer moves from printing one level of the object to the next.

Aligned - A setting in 3D printing that instructs the printer to place the layer seams in a linear or row-like pattern. This means that the printer will start each new layer at the same location or positions the seams consistently.

Random – A setting in 3D printing, that instructs the printer to optimize the placement of layer seams for faster printing. Instead of aligning the seams in a row, the printer chooses different starting points for each layer, aiming to reduce printing time.

Sequential Printing - Instead of printing all objects together, the printer completes one object before starting the next.

Supports - Temporary structures that help print parts that stick out. Only use them if the design says you should.

Walls - The layers that form the outside of your 3D print,2 or 3 layers are recommended, any more walls won’t add strength and can make overhangs harder to print.