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? …
I’ve written before about how I never create exact multiples of designs, 3D printed or otherwise. It’s possible, it’s just my philosophy to always create unique artworks.
That being said, I do enjoy creating variations of sculptures – something I also do with my metal works – which is how series develop. (If you go to my Website, you’ll see how I have multiple sculptures in the same vein, which are organized as series, in both my Fine Art and Home & Garden categories.)
Sometimes series develop because, as I create one sculpture, I can’t help thinking, “I wonder what would happen if I … ” took a different approach than the one I am already committed to on the piece I’m currently making.
Other times, someone will say something and spark an idea, and I can’t wait to see if it will work in a new sculpture. (A good example of this is Opioid, a 3D-printed sculpture with a light inside. I’ll do more with lights, too – it’s the single most asked question about my large format 3D printed sculptures: “Can you put a light in it?”)
Recently I 3D printed a piece on my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer for a visiting TV crew and decided I wanted to make a variation on this design using the same luscious filament ….
It starts out so innocently …. Doesn’t it always, especially with 3D printing!
I wanted to print something using NGen_FLEX (usually called “Ninjaflex”) rubber filament on my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante printer when I got a “Runaway temperature warning” (right), and the printer shut down.
I checked the graph in Simplify 3D, the combination host and slicer program I was using, and saw the temperature spiking instead of its usual gradual climb.
I shut off the 3D printer, let it cool, and tried it again. Same problem.
I printed the same file with regular PLA and had no problem.
Since I became a full-time artist in 2006, I’ve purchased and used a lot of tools. A lot of tools. If you took the recent video tour of my studio, you see many of them, and yes, I use them all. Using the right tool for the job can mean the difference between a job well done and one that turns out just OK, and the difference between spending hours and committing days to a single task.
Recently, I “moved up” in the world of metal working with a purchase of a Dynatorch Super B 4×4 Plasma CNC table(right). This tool allows me do jobs in an hour that would have taken me days, and does them better. It cuts out the metal accurately and cleanly – no more cutting close, then trimming or grinding to size!
The CNC table is a game changer for me, much like my 3D printers have been.
Interestingly enough, my experience with 3D printing helped me get up to speed on the Super B a lot faster than I would have otherwise ….
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 ….
When I first conceived my 3D filament sizing set up, the bent piece of metal through which the filament ran to ensure there were no lumps that could jam the 3D printer seemed a simple yet elegant solution.
After using it for a while – and catching my coat on it, as you’ll hear about in the video – I realized there was a better way ….
This video explains what I came up with and how I used my 3D printer to create, then refine the design:
Sometimes working with 3D printing is like discovering a new continent. You never know what goldmine you’re going to discover – or sinkhole you just stepped into.
Fortunately, most of the time I unearth goldmines. This time, I found yet another. What I didn’t expect was that I’d be using apparently timeless 100-year-old technology to solve a 21st century problem.
For a long time, I’ve been a bit frustrated because my 3D printer host software tells me how many millimeters of filament a print will take.
That is only of limited help, though, because filament manufacturers sell their product based on weight (kilograms or pounds) ….
So knowing how much filament you need for a job has been a real conundrum. Armed with the magic of the Internet, though, I was determined to find some way to know how much filament I have and how much I need for a 3D printing job …..
I began searching for measuring tools, thinking I’d find something digital. I did, but I also found the perfect tool that just happens to be really, really old.
Enjoy this video, which explains what I found and shows how it works perfectly ….
Sometimes change is imposed upon us (make that “Often change is …”). Anyway, sometimes (often?) that change is good, and that’s the case with how I now am changing my filament on my Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer.
Last month, the teeth on the Gigante’s extruder motor got stripped, which required me to order a new extruder. That actually worked out well – I was between one of my own prints, Redhead, and beginning a 3D printed commissioned sculpture.
When I got the new extruder, I discovered I could just pause the print to change the filament instead of having to do it on the fly, the way I had been doing it:
I’ve been playing with the CubeX and the Cerberus 3D 250 for a while and decided to take on a little project with Cerberus 3D’s Gigante deltabot printer.
I designed a hexagonal bin with swirling sections around the outside using Geomagic. I used the “shell” command, thinking it would give me a relatively slim container with the swirl embedded on the sides.
I still have a lot to learn about using CAD, translating through Kisslicer and into the printer …..
When I got my first 3D printer, sculptures were definitely on my mind. I thought about how I could make things that metal just resists, despite the fact that many people think I’m a metal magician (blush, blush).
Pedestal, printing upside down
As I’ve gotten more familiar with the machines and their capabilities, though, I’ve begun to see other ways to use them.
For instance, this week I started printing a custom pedestal for a sculpture I sold at a recent art show ….