3D printing is possible thanks to three essential elements: the 3D printer, the 3D model and the 3D cutting software. The latter, commonly called "slicer", is the intermediary that ensures the preparation of the model of your choice before sending it to the 3D printer. On the market, many free and paid 3D software are available to users. This selection of the best slicers is intended to help you choose the one best suited to your needs.
Cura is the most widespread slicer on the market. The software has been developed by Ultimaker, leader in FDM 3D printers. It has the advantage of being open source, free and compatible with the vast majority of desktop 3D printers and with a computer running Windows, Mac or Linux systems.
The Cura slicer works with many 3D formats such as STL, X2D, 3MF, OBJ, but also image formats such as BMP, PNG, GIF, JPG. Its accessible interface is suitable for beginners and professionals. You will find among its functionalities: the display of a path, the use of materials and the calculation of printing time. There are third-party plugins for more experienced users.
3DPrinterOS is a very complete 3D slicer accessible with a browser, but also with Windows or Mac. It is a cloud platform that has a slicing application as well as several other functions essential for 3D printing, such as repair.
The slicer gives you the possibility to manage in a very simple way your machine files in your company. The 3DPrintersOS platform integrates three slicing applications: Cloud Slicer, Slicer 2 and Marketbot Slicer. It is also compatible with a very wide range of printers.
IdeaMaker is a free 3D slicer, often preferred for its ergonomics. It has been released by Raise3D, manufacturer of 3D printers. Its use is rather simple, just 4 clicks are enough to launch the preparation of a variety of 3MF, OBJ and STL files. You will also be able to customize the software to get much more advanced features.
IdeaMaker adapts to most FDM printers and with Windows, Mac or Linux operating systems. The software can also be used as a management platform for 3D printers. It gives you for example the possibility to follow different print profiles, to remotely manage a print job that is launched and to easily switch between print settings.
Keep it Simple Slicer or KISSlicer is a fast, cross-platform application that you can have on Windows, Mac, Linux or Raspberry Pi. Depending on the version you choose, its interface can be more sophisticated.
You will find a free version that will undoubtedly suit the beginner, but also a professional version that you will have to pay for. The latter has additional features such as double extrusion 3D printing.
Compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems, Repetier-Host is an open source and free 3D cutting software, widely used in the RepRap community. The slicer offers you a complete solution. It has the capacity to support up to 16 extruders and to manage at the same time several filaments and colors to allow you to have an idea of the result before printing.
Repetier-Host integrates 4 slicers (Skeinforge, CuraEngine, Slice3r, Slic3r Prusa Edition), but always allows you to add a solution of your choice. The slicer is thus compatible with almost all FDM 3D printers. It integrates an interesting feature, allowing you to load or duplicate all the models that correspond to your print tray and to print them at the same time.
Free and open source, OctoPrint is a 3D slicer, but also a web interface for your 3D printer. It is compatible with Raspberry Pi, Windows, Mac, Linux operating systems and allows you to control all activities from the web browser or from other portable devices. Based on CuraEngine, OctoPrint directly cuts your files.
Astroprint is developed around a concept similar to that of OctoPrint. It is used on a browser and with Raspberry Pi and pcDuino systems. You have a 3D cutting software, but you also have the possibility to monitor your 3D printer from any device connected to the internet.
The 3D printing software has two modes. The simple mode where it is possible to choose the desired material and quality before sending it to the 3D printer. With the advanced mode, you will be able to improve the settings to get more interesting results.
Simplify 3D is specially designed for professional users. The software is compatible with Windows and Mac systems and with virtually all 3D printers. Thanks to a partnership with 3D printing companies in more than 30 countries, Simplify 3D supports more than 100 printers. Your device can also be added quite easily in case it is not in the list. This means that the same 3D slicer can be used when you need to print with a new machine.
Another advantage of this 3D slicer software is the pre-print simulation which allows you to make a test. Very realistic, this function allows you to check your prints in advance and to identify possible problems. The slicer is also able to automatically suggest where the support material needs to be completed.