The first and most critical step in printing a 3D item is running its computer model through a slicing software. 3D printing slicer software helps create instructions for 3D printers to follow. The part’s final quality depends heavily on these precise digital instructions. Build faults ruin printed prototypes. Proper employment of a good slicer is the key to minimizing them.
This article will help you choose the 3D printer slicer to fit your needs. It will also define this type of computer program, discuss the 10 best 3D printing slicer software packages available, outline how they work, and provide tips on how to choose a slicer software. The price for each is listed along with advantages and disadvantages.
1. Cura (Best Free 3D Slicer Software)
Cura 3D printing slicer software is a free and very common option. It handles 3D formats plus image formats for direct printing from 2D. The table below summarizes the advantages and disadvantages, and the cost of Cura:
Cura tree support
Lacks advanced features
Table 1. Cura Information Summary
2. OctoPrint (3D Printer Host for Remote Printing & Also a 3D Printer Slicer)
The OctoPrint slicer is not just a 3D printing slicer software, but also a web interface for 3D printers. It functions like a task manager, allowing you to control the print remotely. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and the cost of OctoPrint:
Remote host for multiple printers
Internet security issues
Table 2. OctoPrint Information Summary
3. Prusa Slicer (Best 3D Printer Software For Prusa Printer Owners)
Prusa makes a printer kit, so their 3D printing slicer software is optimized for their machines. Prusa 3D Slicer can also drive many other manufacturers' printers, with settings for 60+ materials. Many users prefer PrusaSlicer vs Cura 3D printer slicer software. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and cost of PrusaSlicer:
Drives most printers
Easy to learn
Lacks advanced tools
Table 3. PrusaSlicer Information Summary
4. Simplify3D (Best 3D Slicer For Experienced Makers)
Simplify3D has advanced features for experienced users. It works with most 3D printers and includes tools that help you find and fix file errors and run several prints at once. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and the cost of Simplify3D:
Tools for advanced users
Harder to learn
Table 4. Simplify3D Information Summary
5. Slic3r (Best Open Source 3D Slicer)
Slic3r is the leading open-source 3D printing slicer software and offers cutting-edge capabilities. It has advanced features, making it popular among professionals. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and cost of Slic3r:
Table 5. Slic3r Information Summary
6. Repetier (Great 3D Slicer For Remote 3D Printing)
Repetier is loaded onto Raspberry Pi units used to control printers. It includes tools like Repetier-Server for remote monitoring that enhance the 3D slicer’s functionality. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and cost of Repetier:
Multiple slicers and printers
Difficult to use
No repairs for input files
Table 6. Repetier Information Summary
7. SelfCAD (Paid with Free Option)
SelfCAD is a larger CAD tool that contains a 3D printing slicer software. The SelfCAD slicer is derived from Cura software. SelfCAD has capable evaluation and repair tools. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and costs of SelfCAD:
Similar to Cura (which is free)
Lacks advanced features
$14.99 per month or one-time $599 fee
Table 7. SelfCAD Information Summary
8. KISSlicer (Best 3D Slicer for Experts)
KISSlicer is 3D printing slicer software tailored for experts. It’s an intricate system with fine capabilities for particularly advanced users. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and costs of KISSlicer:
Powerful tools for advanced users
Complex user interface
Up to $82 per year for full capabilities
Table 8. KISSlicer Information Summary
9. Tinkerine Suite (Best 3D Slicer For Education / Schools / Beginners)
Tinkerine makes educational tools. Unsurprisingly, then, their 3D printing slicer software is easy to learn. The free slicer software is common in schools. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and costs of Tinkerine Suite:
Very easy to use
Lacks advanced capabilities
Up to $82 per year
Table 9. Tinkerine Suite Information Summary
10. Netfabb (Professional 3D Slicer for Metal 3D Printing)
Netfabb has moved from a free to a paid model. It is the leader in high-end slicer programs aimed at professionals. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and costs of Netfabb:
Powerful analysis, repair, editing, simulations, and warping toolsets
Not easy to learn
$230 to $4,635 per year
Table 10. Netfabb Information Summary
What is a 3D Slicer in 3D Printing?
3D printing slicer software converts 3D models into printer instructions. These instructions tell the printer head where to go, how to move there, and what to do when it arrives. A slicer software “slices” digital models into layers to be printed, plus controls print parameters. It is generally installed on your computer, but online slicers are also available.
For more information, see our article on Everything You Need to Know About 3D Printing.
What Features Should a Good 3D Slicer Have?
Any capable 3D slicer software needs to optimize these features:
- Speed and accuracy – Efficiently convert printer instructions.
- Repairs and warnings – An ability to flag errors and repair them.
- Ease of use – Intuitive user interface
- File import and processing rate – Quick accessing and processing of files.
- Effective support – Generates appropriate support structures.
- Print process updates – Calculate and inform users of print time and material/filament needs.
What is the Most Widely Used 3D Slicer Software?
Cura is the most common 3D printing slicer software. By many measures, it is generally accepted as the best and has a wide user community.
Which 3D Slicer Software is the Most Expensive?
Netfabb is the most expensive software, though the price varies depending on the licensing option.
How Can I Get 3D Slicer Software for Free?
Free 3D printing slicer software packages are available online and can be downloaded anytime. Below are the steps to get free 3D Slicing Software:
- Read 3D slicer reviews
- Choose the best slicer software for your needs.
- Visit the appropriate website:
- Follow the installation and setup guides and you’re ready to slice.
How Much Does 3D Slicing Software Cost?
3D printing slicer software cost varies depending on the brand and the features. Prices range from free up to several thousand dollars per year.
What Is the 3D Printing Slicer Setting?
3D slicer software precisely controls the printer operation, so several variables must be set. Users tend to want more control as they gain experience. Any capable 3D slicer software will offer the user control over a variety of settings including:
- Print speed
- Layer thickness
- Upper/lower thickness
- Fill density
These settings can overlap so changes can have unexpected consequences – single changes are usually the way to go while learning.
How Do I Set Up 3D Slicing Software?
The setup process for 3D slicing software is generally similar across all 3D slicer software packages and is outlined below:
- Upload 3D files into the software using a graphical representation of the product.
- Set part(s) orientation
- Apply the user-controlled settings
- Run a build simulation to assess faults
- Send the job to the printer
How Does 3D Printing Slicing Work?
3D slicer software converts models into instructions suited to the 3D printer. It takes a designer's 3D model and renders it into instructions for the printer in the form of G-code, the CNC machine language.
Is a Slicer Required to 3D Print?
All printers require some form of 3D printing slicer software. Printers operate in a simplified and very rigid way which requires this intermediate translation.
Is Slic3r Better Than Cura?
There is a wide range of features to consider when choosing between Slice3r and Cura software. However, the relative benefits of the two packages are easy to evaluate. The table below compares the two slicers’ features:
Positioning parts in a build
Select from a preinstalled list
User entered from printer manufacturer data
Speed of processing
Up to 5x slower
Selection depends on the experience of the user. Slic3r is more powerful for advanced users but requires deep knowledge. Cura slicer software is user-friendly.
Whatever your experience level or the usage intensity you expect, there is a 3D slicer that will suit your needs.
This article examined 10 of the common slicer software packages that are available and provided information to assist with making a selection.
Reach out to a Xometry representative today if you need help choosing the best 3D printing slicing software. Xometry offers a full range of 3D printing services for your project needs. Visit our Instant Quote Engine to get a free, no-obligation quote in minutes.
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