NOTE: This is a review of Simplify3D, the program I use for 3D printing slicing.
By Spencer Haggard
If you are involved
in the 3D printing world, it’s likely you’ve heard of Simplify3D. If you have
no personal experience with the program, it can be hard to know what it is and
what makes it different from other slicing programs, or even what a slicing program
is if you are new to the printing world.
A slicing program reads 3D model files and prepares them for 3D printing. It does this by “slicing” the 3D models into thin layers much like an MRI machine does in medicine.
There are many slicers on the market, and some of the most popular ones such as Cura and Slic3r are free. Simplify3D breaks this mold as a paid program. At $149, it isn’t out of range of most consumers, but it isn’t cheap either. Many makers and engineers swear by it, and it has earned quite a name for itself in the 3D printing world. So what makes Simplify3D so different? …
Although the buzz about 3D printing isn’t as red hot as it was, people are understandably still jazzed about this transformational process.
I see the reactions all the time, whether it’s at a gathering focused on how the process works, how I use it in my practice as a sculptor, or just a bunch of people who are fascinated by 3D printing. What I almost also invariably see is disappointment.
The dirty little secret about 3D printing is that you must have a file that you can print.
That’s easy enough if you are satisfied printing other people’s files, such as ones downloaded from Thingiverse. But what if you want to create something yourself?
Well, at this point in the evolution of 3D printing, you’d better know CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, or know someone who does. That’s what most people don’t realize: 3D printing itself is the culmination of a longer process ….
In my previous two posts, I talked about the CAD software where a design begins and the separate slicer software I use to get more control of the condition of the printed piece (some host software has the slicer built in, and that may well be the way things are headed, but for now, that separate slicing software seems to work better).
Once you have prepared your file accordingly, it’s time to feed it to your printer. I use Repetier-Host, based on the recommendation of Steve Graber, who built the Cerberus 250 and Gigante printers I own (yeah, I bought a 250 for my desktop. Kinda like having an airliner and a puddlejumper – I’ll talk more about that in a future post).
Repetier Host homepage, repetier.com
According to an interesting Makezine article, which also talks about slicing software, Repetier-Host has now replaced Printrun as the most popular host software. As happens with technology, I suspect there will be more leapfrogging as things advance. The Makezine article mentions that Microsoft is even getting into the game, so this technology is catching the attention of the big boys now.