The 5 Best Slicing Software for FDM and Resin 3D Printing in 2023
Starting your 3D printing journey is incomplete without user-friendly and reliable slicing software. In this article, we will explore the best slicing software for both resin and FDM 3D printers in 2023. We’ll dive into their features and functions, catering to both beginners and experienced users, enabling everyone to unleash the full potential of 3D printing technology.
Slicing Software: A Key Tool for 3D Printing
Slicing software plays a vital role in the 3D printing process by converting model files (usually in STL format) into G-code readable by 3D printers. This process involves setting various parameters such as nozzle movement coordinates, temperature, speed, and flow rate. In a nutshell, 3D printing slicing software guides the machine on how to operate.
Aside from using default configurations, users often need to explore advanced settings or try complex features to improve print quality, save time, and experience the full joy of 3D printing.
Top FDM 3D Printer Slicing Software
The market offers numerous 3D printing slicing software options, with most being open-source and free to use. While paid software like Simplify3D was popular in the past due to its features, stability, and quality, today’s free alternatives are just as exceptional and have even surpassed some paid software.
PrusaSlicer, developed by Prusa Research, is a powerful, fast, and free open-source slicing software that meets users’ demands for high-quality and personalized prints. Over the years, the software has received regular updates and introduced new features, including custom supports, multi-material printing, auto-update configuration profiles, variable layer heights, color changes, G-code sending over the network, seam drawing, and built-in third-party configuration profiles.
While only a few 3D printer manufacturers attempt multi-material printing on FDM 3D printers, PrusaSlicer supports Prusa MMU (Multi-Material Unit), enabling users to print up to five colors of materials simultaneously. Additionally, users can set colors by simply painting the model.
Color Change Function:
PrusaSlicer allows for color changes at specified layer heights, making multi-color printing a breeze. The software even supports automatic recognition. When importing models resembling bas-reliefs, the software prompts users whether to enable “Automatic Color Change,” truly a one-click configuration.
As free software, PrusaSlicer offers advanced and innovative features, making it one of the most acclaimed 3D printing slicing software choices. It caters to both beginners and experienced users, helping them achieve higher levels of 3D printing precision.
Cura, one of the earliest and most widely used open-source and free slicing software, boasts millions of users worldwide. Many 3D printer manufacturers have based their slicing software on Cura, such as Creality Print from Creality 3D. Cura features a user-friendly interface, with all advanced settings conveniently located in additional tabs, ensuring a clean overall layout.
Variable Line Width:
Introduced in Cura version 5.0, the important feature of variable line width enhances the efficiency of tool paths, allowing for more accurate and detailed prints. This feature also strengthens printed parts, making FDM technology more widely applicable in the final products.
Cura impresses with its dynamic preview functionality. Users can view layer previews in the form of video playback, accurately observing the nozzle’s movement path. This is highly useful for verifying whether the model’s details can be achieved through 3D printing.
After over a decade of development, Cura now boasts diverse features, becoming one of the most popular 3D printing slicing software options. Engineers contribute to the software by adding their creativity through plugins, ensuring its continuous and rapid updates, surpassing many similar software in the market. Currently, Cura has been updated to version 5.4.
ideaMaker, designed for Raise3D printers but compatible with third-party machines, offers an easy-to-use and user-friendly slicing experience, along with impressive CAD-like functionalities.
In ideaMaker, users can apply desired patterns to images, and the software automatically applies the texture to the model’s surface, generating 3D textures. Users can then adjust the texture specifications to meet their needs.
Another simple yet highly useful feature is boolean operations, which help users sculpt, split, and combine models. This function is particularly useful in cases involving oversized models and personalized modifications, saving users time compared to performing boolean operations in CAD software.
These are just a few highlights from the array of rich features in ideaMaker, making it one of the most powerful and flexible 3D printing slicing software choices. It is also one of the few domestically-developed FDM 3D printing slicing software options, making this free software worth trying.
In addition to the recommended software above, some paid resin 3D printing slicing software like Firmware and Mango3’s Voxeldance Tango has gained recognition. Manufacturers have also developed their own dedicated software, such as Photon Workshop by Zortrax and PreForm by Formlabs, but they may not be compatible with third-party machines.
Best Resin 3D Printer Slicing Software
Before the emergence of software like ChituBox and Lychee, the 3D printing community relied on CAD software such as Meshmixer to create custom support structures. However, today’s resin 3D printing slicing software can independently handle this task with increasingly advanced functionalities, significantly lowering the user threshold.
ChituBox is perhaps the most frequently mentioned resin 3D printing slicing software, with powerful features and user-friendly operation, attracting over 500,000 users worldwide. Brands like Anycubic and Elegoo also recommend ChituBox as their slicing software of choice for resin 3D printing.
ChituBox offers automatic layout, model hollowing, hole cutting, automatic and manual support generation, anti-aliasing, and tolerance compensation. It stands as independent software compatible with various 3D printer brands, offering robust profile support.
As the user base grew, Chitubox introduced the paid Pro version (169 USD/year), distinguishing it from the free Basic version. The Pro version offers resin compensation, 3D hollowing, variable layer height, and a complete ad-free experience.
Another slicing software for resin 3D printers is Lychee, developed by the manufacturer Mango3D. Lychee is easy to use and user-friendly, having reached its third generation with many basic software engines rewritten, including automatic and manual support engines.
Lychee includes pixel pipeline, model hollowing, hole cutting, manual/automatic support generation, anti-aliasing, and variable layer heights. Similar to ChituBox, Lychee also offers a free Basic version and a paid Professional version (approximately 60 USD/year). The free version displays advertisements, while the Pro version comes with enhanced features like resin compensation, 3D hollowing, variable layer height, and an ad-free experience.
Apart from these two recommended software options, other paid resin 3D printing slicings software like Formware and Mango3D’s Voxeldance Tango are available. Additionally, some manufacturers have developed their own slicing software, such as Photon Workshop by Zortrax and PreForm by Formlabs, though they may not be compatible with third-party machines.
In conclusion, choosing the best slicing software depends on your specific needs and preferences. With the rapid advancement of 3D printing technology, more innovative and versatile slicing software options are continually emerging. As a 3D printing enthusiast or professional, exploring different software can lead to exciting discoveries and optimize your 3D printing experience.
Remember, whether you’re a hobbyist or an industry expert, the right slicing software is the key to unlocking the full potential of your 3D printer, turning your creative ideas into reality.
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