Slicers, slicers, slicers. What are they and how do you use them?
In FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling), 3D models are printed layer by layer. A Slicer, in layman's terms is a software that helps to slice your 3D model into multiple layers at your defined temperature, speed, acceleration etc.
In today's standards, we have evolved from one or two slicers to multitudes of them.
However, not all slicers are created equal. Some are free, some are paid while some others are just outdated.
Here's a complete list of Slicers that we use and recommend:
1. Prusa Slicer by Prusa Resarch
Prusa Slicer is the neatest single slicer that we've used. We have not looked back ever since we switched from another slicer. Why do we love it? The UI (user interface) is so clean and well organized.
From the first time you open the program, you will see the Plater, your Print Settings, Filament Settings & Printer Settings. No other Slicers have them all lined up like that in such an accessible, yet clean format.
In fact, we love it so much that the print profiles that we have available for download are only for Prusa Slicer.
You can download our print profiles here.
You can download Prusa Slicer here.
2. Cura by Ultimaker
Cura is probably the most popular slicer in the market because of the sheer number of people using Ultimaker machines thanks to number of integrations they have with other machines such as the Creality's Ender 3, CR series and Artillery etc. This means users of these machines can get started as fast as 5 mins as long as you download Cura from the website.
Cura is free and notably a very good software. However, there has been several complains over the web recently that mentions that every version update people do on their Cura, their print profiles would not longer work as intended.
We cannot confirm this as we don't use Cura in our labs. However, we have also heard of good things about Cura such as their extensive and complete functionalities. If you want complete control over your 3D Printer, then we think Ultimaker's Cura would fit your bill.
You can download Ultimaker Cura here.
You can also download Cura Print Profiles here.
Among the top slicers, Simplify3D is the only one that is different; it is not free. Priced at $149, many 3D Printing users have been scared about investing this money into a slicer, especially when you can get free slicers that is as good, like Prusa Slicer and Cura. However, S3D, short for Simplify3D should definitely be better since it costs something right?
Here's a quick rundown on why you should choose Simplify3D. They actually have an incredible simulation UI that triumphs other slicers. Their UI is intuitive, smart and doesn't cause chunky visual movements especially if you have a slow computer. They also have countless of (official) resources, experts that you can actually reach out to if you need help to figure something out.
You can buy Simplify3D here. Enjoy 2 weeks of free trial and get a full refund as stated on S3D's website
After reading 3 different slicers, 2 of which are free and 1 paid, how do you decide which one is for you?
To be honest, there is no right or wrong answer and we believe it really boils down to your personal preference and your current 3D printing skills.
For example, if you're a complete beginner and you just want to download .STL files from Thingiverse, MyMiniFactory, PinShape, YouMagine etc and want to get started as fast as possible, you should use Prusa Slicer. We even have well-tuned print profiles you can download immediately to use! They're only tuned for our CoreXY machines though.
But if you're a complete beginner and would like to take the learning of 3D Printing seriously, we recommend Simplify3D. There are people in the community that swear by it and some others who absolutely hate it. Each to their own, we believe that the access to expert opinions available from official sources are worth the $149 that you pay. And to have that incredible real time simulation that no other slicers can compete with? Definitely worth the investment in our opinion.
However, if you're not a beginner and would like to try something powerful and join a massive community, we recommend Cura. The learning curve can be steep but we're sure you can find a wealth of knowledge about Cura on the internet, especially YouTube.
Let us know your thoughts about the Slicers and if there's any other Slicers you think we should list here, do write to us and let us know!