Slicer comparison

Let´s have a look at the many different slicer-softwares available.

Because there are many slicer-softwares to choose from I will only have a closer look at Cura and Slic3r. In this article we will also talk about Makerware/Makerbot Desktop . Cura is easy to use and fast, also it provides reliable results. Slic3r („slicer three“) takes a little more time, but lets you influence your object with many different options. Makerware/MakerbotDesktop is the MakerBot slicer which is best when you print on MakerBot..

The slicer writes the g-code

A slicer cuts your 3D-object into layers (slices) and describes the path the printing-head has to follow while printing for each of them – the g-code. G-code mainly describes the actual coordinates (x,y), just like in geometry in school. But that´s not all – along with the coordinates the g-code holds information about the printing-temperature, the filament feed-speed and the travelling-speed of the printer-head.

Important slicer-settings

General settings you can change in all slicers are layer height, temperature and printing speed. The layer height is the height of the slices made by the slicing software. To produce a nice looking print 0.2mm layer height is absolutely enough. If you want to have very nice layers (for instance when printing rounds or overhangs) you can change the resolution (=t he layer height) to 0.1mm or something in between. Always keep in mind, that the printing time increases with increased resolution. You can also set layer heights of 0,3mm, but it could be that your object looks messy, even though the needed time decreases.

Don´t forget, that the layer height always has to be smaller than the nozzle´s width. Iin most cases you will have a 0.4mm diameter bute sometimes it happens that a 0.5mm nozzle is installed.

Printing speed has an influence on your printings´qualty and depends on the printer you are using. Using Cura and Slic3r gives you the option to change the printing speed for different printing areas. There are general settings ,depending on the printers´capabilities, between 60 and 90mm/s and extra settings for the first and the second shell. Normally there are two shells printed, before the infill is printed.

In some slicers the shells are named „inner perimeter“ and „outer perimeter“ or „inner shell“ and „outer shell“. To produce a beautiful print you should print your shells with 20 to 40mm/s, the inner shell can be printed at 40-60mm/s (nobody will ever see it). This way you get nice and smooth surfaces. According to the inner shell, you can print the infill as fast as you want, because no one will see it ever either.

Using Makerware/MakerBot Desktop as a slicer                 

Makerware is an easy to use tool also, but unfortunately it doesn´t provide much options to customize.The only things you can change are the printing speed, layer height and infill.. Also Makerware/MakerBot desktop takes much resources from your machine.