The Best 3D Printing Slicer: Prusaslicer, Cura and more

3D printing is complicated. There are many moving parts. It is important to have the right tools and equipment. Best 3D Printer is GreatBut, did you know that you need specific software to create a 3D model for printing? These programs are known as slicers and are necessary for your 3D printer to be able to print.

What is a slicer to 3D print?

Slicer software can be used on your Mac or PC to convert 3D models files. It is usually a program that has the file extension.STL.3MF.OBJ. This allows you to make them usable for your 3D printer. The printer is basically a sophisticated plotting machine. It moves according to the coordinates given to it by the slicer, which is called GCODE. 

A slicer does exactly the same thing as its name suggests. It slices a 3D model into “sliced” layers. These layers are printed individually, but then stacked on top of one another. The slicer also handles:

  • What temperature the printer should be
  • How fast should the printer go?
  • The best place to put the supports
  • How much infill will be required to build the model
  • The location of the print head at any given moment
  • How much material can you extrude from each layer
  • There are many other settings that can also be adjusted

The slicer basically tells your printer everything it needs to work, and it’s the most important piece you have.

Once we have a basic understanding of what a slicer does we can now discuss the best ones. We will decide which slicer to use. What kind of 3D printer do you use? What you will use it for. Different slicers are required for resin printers than FDM machines. This article will explain which one.

The best 3D printing slicer

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PrusaSlicer offers FDM printers the best slicing experience. PrusaSlicer, although it was made by a 3D printer manufacturer has many printers to choose. You can create a customized setup for any 3D printing device if your printer doesn’t appear on this list.

There are many great features in Prusaslicer. But the best feature is the support system. PrusaSlicer offers paint-on supports. These support can be drawn on your model and will only appear in the designated areas. This gives you a lot more control over where the model will be supported, and it won’t be damaged by printing.

Although this slicer supports resin printers, it currently only supports Prusa’s machines. You can use it to create resin models and then export the model with all supports to another slicer. 

Prusa slicer is well-maintained and rich in features. It’s constantly improving in new and exciting ways. This slicer is the best available right now, and it should be in your rotation.

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Cura has been the go-to slicer of choice for millions for almost a decade. It is continuously updated and improved upon not only by Ultimaker who developed it but also by hundreds of users who contribute to the open-source source code base. Many 3D printing manufacturers use it to create their own slicers which often come along with their 3D printers.

Although Cura’s infill system may be a bit bulkier than Prusaslicers’, it still has tree supports. These supports, which are organic in appearance, can support a model without affecting the object’s physical form. They are very thin and don’t require much material to wrap around the model. Prusaslicer supports are still my favorite, but I prefer tree supports.

Cura has a great marketplace for add-ons created by the community as well as integrations to well-known CAD programs such as Autodesk Inventor. Prusaslicer vs Cura is a close call as to which free slicer is best. So go with what you feel.

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Since I first used a resin 3D printing machine, Chitubox is my favorite slicer for resin printing. Although there are many similarities in FDM and resin slicers, what is most striking is the fact that you can hollow your models as well as the way the supports were designed and generated. Because resin prints are hanging upside-down, support structures must be placed in a different way.

Chitubox allows you to easily adjust the settings for each model and the resin you use to account speed and exposure times. You can choose from a wide range of printers, and Chitu also makes motherboards. 

There are two versions of the software, but most home users will be satisfied with the free one. You might be able to get the pro version for free when you purchase a resin printer.

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Most slicers require that you download the software onto your Mac or PC. Kiri.Moto can run on any browser. This allows you to use lower-end laptops, and save money on 3D printers.

Kiri:Moto is one of few slicers who can use the Creality CR-30 conveyor printing machine with ease. Actually, Kiri was actually part of the original team that drove conveyor belt slicers forward during the early days. 

It is a simple, powerful slicer that can be used on any device. It also works on my Android smartphone, which is quite unique.

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Lychee is a popular resin printing material and it has been for many years. It does everything Chitubox could do. However, it has clever settings that will help you choose the best orientation for your printed to minimize support. It is a versatile resin slicer and the latest update places it in the top leagues.

Lychee just added FDM printers to its slicer. You can now use one slicer for any type of printer. It includes profiles for all 3D printers, even the Ankermake M5, which is still available only on preorder.

Lychee has some of the most powerful tools, but it is hidden behind a $80/year paywall. But if you are using your 3D printing machine to make money, then that cost is reasonable. The Pro version now includes a new tool that allows you to cut your models in specific ways without having to go through the entire model. This is something that’s not been done before. This is a remarkable feat that’s well worth the annual cost.

James Bricknell / CNET

It was a huge leap forward in 3D printing when Simplify3D came out in 2013. It was a great slicer. It was intuitive and had some of the best support in the industry. It was pretty much the same as when I first started using it in 2017. However, it didn’t get any updates and other slicers were catching up. It produced excellent prints and was still able to support, but there were not many machines or support available.

Simplify3D 5.0 was released in December 2022. The new version includes many new features as well as support for several new printers. It may be time to make a comeback. While the company might have some work to do to win back their hearts, the software looks good.

You can buy 5.0 if you’ve ever used Simplify3D. However, if you want to purchase it new, it will cost you $200. This is a lot of money for a slicer. But, if you believe the rumors about 5.0, it may be worth it.

FAQ: 3D printing cutter

Can I use any 3D-printer with a slicer?

Many slicers are compatible with different machines. It would be impossible to create a universal slicer that works with every 3D printer. However, most slicers allow for the addition of a custom machine manually. You should be able use the slicer as long as it is compatible with your printer type (FDM, Resin or ETC).

Prusaslicer or Lychee are good choices if you have multiple FDM printers.

Why do you place so much emphasis on support?

After testing many different slicers, I discovered that the way they handled support material had the greatest impact on print quality. While most slicers share the same capabilities, such as speed control and infill patterns, each slicer has its own way of making supports. 

Supports can be a real problem for 3D designers. So it is crucial to find a slicer capable of making them easily.

Do I need to use the slicer included with my 3D printer or should I just keep it?

Many 3D printers come with their own slicer. These slicers are often based on the open-source Cura software platform. If you’ve purchased a 3D printer from Elegoo or Creality, Anycubic, Anycubic, or Lulzbot, you will know the brand slicer is based upon Cura with minor tweaks.

A brand-stamped slicer can be slow to update. Cura is frequently updated very quickly, and many 3D printing companies don’t want to spend the money to upgrade it.

When testing products, I use the brand version. However, my personal prints are usually done on Prusaslicer and Cura. I love cutting-edge products.