For FDM 3D printer users, slicing models into Gcode is a necessary and important step in 3D printing. Well-considered slicing settings can help us reduce printing time, save material, and most importantly, increase the chance of successful printing. In other words, we need to set up some parameters in slicing software to get the desired results we hope for.
There are many slicing software on the internet. Some software is free while some need to be paid for. Some are simple and easy to use while some have more advanced functions. There is always one option fit for you.
Here are several Common slicing software people often use.
Cura is a free and open-source slicer developed by Ultimaker. It’s compatible with all of the common FDM 3D printers and it’s very friendly to beginner.
Simplify3D is a paid slicer. It has a user-friendly interface but also gives the users much space for modification and customization. One of its advantages is editing and repairing complex 3D models.
Slic3r is another free and open-source slicer. It has some advanced slicing features including honeycomb infill, splitting models into parts, and so on.
Other slicer or software are well used by 3D printer users, like KISSlicer, OctoPrint and Creality Slicer. Each slicer has its special features and It’s hard to tell one is better than another. Here, we will Use Cura as an essential tool for our 3D printing as it’s free, easy to get hands-on and able to help us have a better understanding of 3D printer.
As a free, open-sourced slicing tool, Cura is very friendly to 3D printer users. If you are still new to FDM 3D printing and just got your first 3D printer, Cura maybe the easiest tool to use for simple slicing. As we can see from its operation interface, each icon/option is placed clear and convenient for users.
Now, Let’s see How simple to use Cura.
Simple Slicing Steps
After we install and open Cura, we need to follow these steps to transform a 3D model into a machine lauguage(Gcode).
- Let the slicer know what type of printer we use for printing. you can add your printers from an offered list or custom your DIY printer setting; We also need to define what material and nozzle size the printer use. These settings are very basic but important for successful prints.
- Import 3D models. we can import one or multiple models for one print. Cura supports a variety of file formats, not only includes common 3D formats like STL, OBJ but also picture files such as JPG and PNG.
3. There is a list of tools allow us to edit models, although their functions are limited to “move”, “scale” and other simple commands.
4. For beginners, Cura provides an easy-to-follow slicing setting. We only need to define the print quality( smaller number, better quality, longer printing time), infill( more infill, more weight, longer time), support(some overhanging parts need support material) and adhesion( add it to let models stick on hotbed).
5. Slice and save Gcode. After “Slice”, we can preview the edited models layer by layer. It’s a good chance to review the models and settings before we print. By doing so, we could find some errors or Inappropriate settings like long time printing or too much material would be used. We can always go back and modify the settings.
Now, Cura has generated a Gcode file which can be save to a SD card and read by a 3D printer.
Cura has many more advanced functions that allow us to optimize the slicing process and they could be complicated. But Cura also offers these easy-to-follow slicing settings for new users to let us print objects without any obstacles.