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Best 3D Printer Slicer: 7 Softwares to consider for your printer

The 3D printing process requires a whole range of highly innovative tools to get the job done properly. Apart from the obvious one such as a 3D model as well as a 3D printer, you will need lots of other items as well.

Here, one of the instrumental pieces to the whole 3D puzzle would be the 3D Printer Slicer right in between those two critical points. 3D printing slicer software essentially acts as a sort of middleman between the 3D models that have to be printed, and the printer itself.

What is the best 3d printer slicer?

For the uninitiated, a 3D printing slicer works to prepare a selected model for every 3D printer. It does this by generating a specific G-code. This code is in the form of numerical control (NC) programming language. There are plenty of very large numbers of slicing software out there, and quite a few of them are completely free. In order to help you find that perfect fit, let us take a quick look at a list of the very best 3D printing slicer software solutions and tools out there.

1. Cura

Cura is free software that is available for download or alternately, available as part of the software suite that comes bundled with different 3D printers.

Overview

Cura has been developed, hosted, and maintained by the 3D printer company Ultimaker. As of now, it boasts of a really fervent community of users. The company has its roots in the free and open software range of communities. And this is precisely why the 3D slicer software has not only been released as a freebie but has also stayed that way ever since its very inception.

Over the past few years, Cura has even added multiple profiles for various competitor 3D printers. There are few if any companies that would do that.

It can be fed a veritable plethora of files ranging from 3MF to STL, and even OBJ file formats too. The latter files can also be repaired as and when needed. Once done, it will show a tool path, along with extended printing time as well as material estimates.

The good people at Ultimaker regularly continue to update Cura. This also allows multiple users to develop various third-party plug-ins too. These will in turn, ensure that this highly popular slicer typically retains its cutting edge, all the time.

This 3D slicer may be free, but that does not mean that it can’t take on the big boys and slug it out with the very best of them, regardless of their costs. Let us take a quick look at what makes this printer slicer tick so well.

Pros

  • It is eminently suitable for both novices as well as experts alike
  • Beginners can see the more important setting
  • There are well over 200 settings for even hardcore experts to fiddle with
  • The GUI (graphical user interface) is very fast
  • It is possible to handle dual material prints
  • The Cura 3D slicer software has the capability to handle huge STL files pretty fast indeed
  • OS: Windows, Linux, Mac

Cons

  • A few minor features are missing such as OctoPrint support (for instance)
  • Print time estimates can sometimes be off by around 10 to 20 percent.

Verdict

This is a state of the art 3D printer slicer solution and it is picture-perfect for both beginners as well as semi-pros alike. Since it is absolutely free, you can just download it and start working without any fear of wasting your investment.

Where can you get it?

It is available free of cost on the main Cura webpage.

Related

2. Simplify3D

Unlike the CuraEngine, the Simplify 3D slicer is not free software. It comes with a hefty price tag of $150 for every download. However, the good news is that it is good for two systems thanks to its dual computer license.

Overview

As befitting its steep price tag, Simplify3D is exceptionally well designed 3D slicer software meant to be used by pros. This is why it easily supports nearly all of the currently available 3D printers out there. As a matter of fact, you can now both download and import well over 100 3D printer profiles.

What is more, even if your model is not available on the list, it is still quite easy to add another profile on this software, on your own.

The Simplify systems allow you to not just import and scale, but also rotate and repair your 3D models or objects until they are as per your parameters. The import of OBJ, STL, or 3MF files is extremely fast, and even very large meshes can be displayed in no time at all.

There are multiple icons and lots of settings that you can work with and fiddle around on this slicer: You can control the extruders, along with layer controls, multiple infill methods, lots of temperatures, and cooling settings. The Simplify slicer even allows working with and editing raw G-code as well as scripts. Once done you can save these settings in the “Processes” system.

This slicer system can be very handy in case you are experimenting with multiple settings, printer nozzles, or for that matter, even different filaments. In case you need help, it is readily available by hovering the cursor over the various icons and buttons.

Pros

  • This handy little slicer software tool can help you to extract the required quality from your 3D printer
  • It offers an absolutely huge variety of options
  • It has very easy to navigate the operating system
  • The quality of the step by step documentation is considered to be outstanding by top-notch 3D printing experts
  • Most professionals will love the editable supports that this software provides
  • OS:  Windows and Mac

Cons

First and foremost, the very large price tag. In fact, this slicer costs almost as much as a budget 3D printer! This can be quite a massive investment for a basic hobby 3D printer enthusiast.

Verdict

This slicer is suited for just about everyone who wants to get the best quality prints from his printer. Even though there is a basic mode available, it still requires a lot of 3D printing experience before you can use it properly.

Where is it available?

It is available on the Simplify3D webpage.

Related

3. Slic3r

Just like Cura, this slicer is also a free and open source product and therefore available free of cost.

Overview

Slic3r is an open source 3D slicer software. However, you should not let its free linage fool you. This is a great software tool and its inventors have a well-founded reputation for adding cutting edge features not found anywhere else, even amongst paid software tools. The current iteration of this 3D printing software currently includes multiple views.

This way, its users are able to better preview exactly how their models will look during and after the 3D printing process.

The good people at Slic3r have thoughtfully added a new honeycomb infill that has been created in three dimensions. As a matter of fact, this is the very first time that an infill pattern can be varied across various layers instead of just simply repeating the same pattern again and again. In the long run, it can also greatly increase the overall strength of the internal infill as well as your final print.

Another good feature is that direct integration with OctoPrint is also possible with Slic3r. In fact, whenever you slice files on your desktop, you can now upload them directly to your OctoPrint box with a single click of an icon.

Over the years, the community has experimented a lot with settings, materials as well as newly released 3D printers. They took all that painstakingly acquired knowledge and used to make their Slic3r bigger and better than ever before for the owners of different models of 3D printers.

As a matter of fact, many features that we take for granted today such as micro layering, sequential printing (one object at a time), multiple extruders, brim, command line slicing, bridge detection, variable layer heights, mesh cutting, honeycomb infill, object splitting into parts and many others are a direct consequence of the cutting edge tech found in this slicer tool. No wonder so many 3D printers use this software. You can find out more if you leave your email address at the community forums.

Pros

  • The software is reasonably fast even if you have a really on slow system. This is all thanks to its real-time 3D slicing technology
  • Once you change a setting, you can rest assured that the software will only calculate the affected parts
  • The software also includes real-time incremental slicing as well
  • 3D preview
  • Tool path preview in 2D and 3D
  • 3D honeycomb infills
  • Customizable bed shape
  • Integration with OctoPrint,
  • Pressure regulation
  • OS: Windows, Linux Mac,
  • Price: Free
  • User friendly

Cons

  • No printing time available
  • The software does not offer material estimates as yet
  • A bit complicate and therefore suitable for 3D printing experts and pros
  • Newcomers might find this 3D slicer software quite intimidating due to feature overload

Verdict

It is an excellent choice for both professionals and experts alike. However, newbies and students might find it a tad heavy for their day to day use.

Where can you get it?

It is available on the Slic3r webpage.

4. The Prusa Slicer

This is also Open Source software, therefore absolutely free of cost.

Overview

This software has its roots in the iconic 3D Slic3r; so much so that until late last year, it was known as the “Slic3r Prusa Edition”. However, Prusa has now branched off from the original and this number has a very large set of highly advanced features. These come bundled with a very large number of settings that would please even the most hardcore aficionado of the 3D printing game.

This slicer is eminently suitable for both FDM as well as SLA/DLP 3D printers. This makes it one of the very few slicers that can actually do that. Apart from that, the fact that it completely open-source means that advanced programmers can fine-tune and tweak it in order to create their own versions and so add even more new features to go with the old ones already there.

With three individual and separate user modes, the PrusaSlicer is great for just about anyone: Ranging from beginners who can only see the most basic settings (think windows safe mode) all the way to advanced and experienced users who can sculpt their prints down to a T.

Thanks to its reworked user interface, the PrusaSlicer is quite easy to navigate, and it also provides a few nifty extras such as the ability to repair models via the Netfabb online service network, custom supports, or even extremely precise estimated printing times. (This last holds particularly true for Prusa’s own printers).

Pros

  • It is highly tunable and experts can tinker with it to get perfect prints
  • Prusa Slicer is fully backed up by a really large user community
  • It receives near continual updates as well as support from the excellent developers at Prusa Research
  • Friendly interface
  • OS:  Mac, Windows, Linux

Cons

  • Some beginners might feel out of their depth due to the massive number of options available

Verdict

It is suitable for just about anyone who has an original Prusa printer. Most experienced users would love it because they will have the ability to not only view but also change every possible detail of the printing process.

Where will you be able to get it?

It is available on the official Prusa’s website.

5. Repetier Host

This also an open source offering and as such it is available absolutely free of cost. You will just have to download and install it to your system and it does the rest.

Overview

If you are interested in working with a 3D slicer software while remaining well within the open-source framework, then Repetier is a really great option that would be a pretty neat fit.

Think of it as the great-granddaddy of all 3D printing software. In fact, as of now, it is by far and large one of the top-most favorite choices amongst the 3D printing community.

Here, it is pertinent to note that this software tool easily straddles the intermediate to advanced 3D printing user spectrum. Its makers pitch it as an all in one solution because it offers exceptional multi-extruder support that goes up to a massive 16 extruders.

Apart from the above, it also offers multi-slicer support too via custom plugins. In fact, it provides support for just about every FDM 3D printer currently available on the market today. It also includes default options for 3D slicing using the CuraEngine, Slic3r, or for that matter even the Slic3r Prusa Edition. Whatever you prefer, the Repetier will do the job. As long as you are willing to tweak it to derive the best out of your 3D prints.

Pros

  • The Repetier Host slicing software now also offers a state of the art remote access feature courtesy its own Repetier Server.
  • You can always contact the community by putting your name email address on the community forums once you subscribe there
  • It is roughly analogous to OctoPrint and simple installation on a Raspberry Pi will do the trick
  • It enables you to control your 3D printer from just about anywhere as long as you have a functional browser on your tablet, PC, or smartphone
  • It is the favorite open source 3D slicer software as far as the RepRap maker community is concerned
  • OS: Mac, Windows, Linux

Cons

  • The overall print quality is not as great when compared to newer and more advanced 3D slicer software such as Cura for instance

Verdict

This is a powerful slicer software for Intermediate and professional users who love a bit of DIY (do it yourself) stuff when tinkering with their 3D prints for best results.

Where will you be able to get it?

This slicer tool is available on the Repetier webpage.

6. OctoPrint

The OctoPrint slicer software tool is available absolutely free of cost. This is because it is open source software that is available for free downloading on their website.

Overview

OctoPrint is a truly exceptional piece of software that plays host to your 3D printer. It allows you to seamlessly control and monitor virtually all of your 3D print-related activities from your handheld smart devices or even your web browser.

The OctoPrint application itself is installed on the Raspberry Pi ecosystem. However, you can easily extend it with a webcam or for that matter, even a plethora of different plugins. This way, it is possible to conveniently load all 3D printing jobs directly onto your 3D printer without going through all those pesky SD cards.

This is fully integrated 3D slicer software that is based on the well-known CuraEngine. In other words, you won’t even have to bother with slicing any of your 3D files onto a computer anymore. All you have to do is to send over the STL model command and your 3D printer will do the rest for you.

Pros

  • This is a completely open source software and many experts have fine-tuned it for the welfare of the 3D printing community at large
  • It is gaining more and more devotees every day
  • OS: Raspberry Pi, Mac, Windows, Linux
  • Quite user friendly

Cons

  • Not exactly suitable for the newbies who are conducting their very first prints due to the multiple options available on the main dashboard.

Verdict

It is suitable for both intermediate as well as highly experienced users who always want to stay in full control of their equipment.

Where will you be able to get it?

This slicer tool is available on the main OctoPrint webpage.

7. SelfCad

This software for 3D print is not free unlike the many options available today. However, it is available as a free version for trial for ten days. After that, you will have to pay a monthly subscription of $14.99.

Overview

This tool is geared toward the whole of the 3D print workflow. That includes 3D model designing as well. This makes the SelfCad a pretty interesting new software suite. Think of it along the lines of a one-stop-shop for 3D printmakers who also want to design their models for printing purposes. Apart from being a robust 3D model app, this software toll also utilizes its very own 3D slicer as well, once you start your simplified 3D print preparation process.

Pros

  • Once you are done slicing, you will also get a highly detailed layer preview with a slider
  • The software also displays estimated print time as well as material usage along with final model weight
  • It contains Spaghetti infill
  • Easy to use
  • Friendly interface

Cons

  • It is still one step removed from the actual printing process
  • It requires cloud-based connectivity

Verdict

This is an ideal software 3D print tool for beginners who are looking to design their very first printable objects. It has a very simple interface that you can customize as you gain experience with your prints.

Where will you be able to get it?

This slicer tool is available on the SelfCAD webpage.

Conclusion

Out of all the slicers listed, my personal favorites are Cura and Simplify3D. I have also used Octoprint quite extensively, but not as a slicer – I use it to send ready-sliced files to my printer.

If you do have the budget and need some extreme control and flexibility, Simplify3D is the best 3D printer slicer, hands down.

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