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Resources3D Printing Design10 Best Slicer Software for 3D Printing
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10 Best Slicer Software for 3D Printing

Learn about some of the top choices for slicer software and the pros & cons of each.

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
September 12, 2022
 7 min read
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The first and most critical step in printing a 3D item is running its computer model through a slicing software. 3D printing slicer software helps create instructions for 3D printers to follow. The part’s final quality depends heavily on these precise digital instructions. Build faults ruin printed prototypes. Proper employment of a good slicer is the key to minimizing them.

This article will help you choose the 3D printer slicer to fit your needs. It will also define this type of computer program, discuss the 10 best 3D printing slicer software packages available, outline how they work, and provide tips on how to choose a slicer software. The price for each is listed along with advantages and disadvantages.

1. Cura (Best Free 3D Slicer Software)

Cura 3D printing slicer software is a free and very common option. It handles 3D formats plus image formats for direct printing from 2D. The table below summarizes the advantages and disadvantages, and the cost of Cura:

AdvantagesDisadvantagesCost
Advantages

Intuitive UI

Fast processing

Cura tree support

Disadvantages

Lacks advanced features 

Cost

Free

Table 1. Cura Information Summary

2. OctoPrint (3D Printer Host for Remote Printing & Also a 3D Printer Slicer)

The OctoPrint slicer is not just a 3D printing slicer software, but also a web interface for 3D printers. It functions like a task manager, allowing you to control the print remotely. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and the cost of OctoPrint:

AdvantagesDisadvantagesCost
Advantages

Remote host for multiple printers

Disadvantages

Internet security issues

Cost

$143

Table 2. OctoPrint Information Summary

3. Prusa Slicer (Best 3D Printer Software For Prusa Printer Owners)

Prusa makes a printer kit, so their 3D printing slicer software is optimized for their machines. Prusa 3D Slicer can also drive many other manufacturers' printers, with settings for 60+ materials. Many users prefer PrusaSlicer vs Cura 3D printer slicer software. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and cost of PrusaSlicer:

AdvantagesDisadvantagesCost
Advantages

Drives most printers

Easy to learn

Disadvantages

Lacks advanced tools

Cost

Free

Table 3. PrusaSlicer Information Summary

4. Simplify3D (Best 3D Slicer For Experienced Makers)

Simplify3D has advanced features for experienced users. It works with most 3D printers and includes tools that help you find and fix file errors and run several prints at once. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and the cost of Simplify3D:

AdvantagesDisadvantagesCost
Advantages

Tools for advanced users

Build simulations

Disadvantages

Harder to learn

Cost

$149

Table 4. Simplify3D Information Summary

5. Slic3r (Best Open Source 3D Slicer)

Slic3r is the leading open-source 3D printing slicer software and offers cutting-edge capabilities. It has advanced features, making it popular among professionals. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and cost of Slic3r:

AdvantagesDisadvantagesCost
Advantages

Professional UI

Good tools

Accessible settings

Disadvantages

Requires familiarization

Cost

Free

Table 5. Slic3r Information Summary

6. Repetier (Great 3D Slicer For Remote 3D Printing)

Repetier is loaded onto Raspberry Pi units used to control printers. It includes tools like Repetier-Server for remote monitoring that enhance the 3D slicer’s functionality. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and cost of Repetier:

AdvantagesDisadvantagesCost
Advantages

Remote access

Multiple slicers and printers

Disadvantages

Difficult to use

No repairs for input files

Cost

Free

Table 6. Repetier Information Summary

7. SelfCAD (Paid with Free Option)

SelfCAD is a larger CAD tool that contains a 3D printing slicer software. The SelfCAD slicer is derived from Cura software. SelfCAD has capable evaluation and repair tools. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and costs of SelfCAD:

AdvantagesDisadvantagesCost
Advantages

Easy customization 

Remote access

Advanced tools

Disadvantages

Similar to Cura (which is free)

Lacks advanced features

Cost

$14.99 per month or one-time $599 fee 

Table 7. SelfCAD Information Summary

8. KISSlicer (Best 3D Slicer for Experts)

KISSlicer is 3D printing slicer software tailored for experts. It’s an intricate system with fine capabilities for particularly advanced users. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and costs of KISSlicer:

AdvantagesDisadvantagesCost
Advantages

Powerful tools for advanced users

Disadvantages

Complex user interface

Cost

Free basic

Up to $82 per year for full capabilities

Table 8. KISSlicer Information Summary

9. Tinkerine Suite (Best 3D Slicer For Education / Schools / Beginners)

Tinkerine makes educational tools. Unsurprisingly, then, their 3D printing slicer software is easy to learn. The free slicer software is common in schools. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and costs of Tinkerine Suite:

AdvantagesDisadvantagesCost
Advantages

Very easy to use

Disadvantages

Lacks advanced capabilities

Cost

Free basic

Up to $82 per year

Table 9. Tinkerine Suite Information Summary

10. Netfabb (Professional 3D Slicer for Metal 3D Printing)

Netfabb has moved from a free to a paid model. It is the leader in high-end slicer programs aimed at professionals. The table below summarizes the advantages, disadvantages, and costs of Netfabb:

AdvantagesDisadvantagesCost
Advantages

Powerful analysis, repair, editing, simulations, and warping toolsets

Disadvantages

Not easy to learn

Cost

$230 to $4,635 per year 

Table 10. Netfabb Information Summary

What is a 3D Slicer in 3D Printing?

3D printing slicer software converts 3D models into printer instructions. These instructions tell the printer head where to go, how to move there, and what to do when it arrives. A slicer software “slices” digital models into layers to be printed, plus controls print parameters. It is generally installed on your computer, but online slicers are also available.

For more information, see our article on Everything You Need to Know About 3D Printing.

What Features Should a Good 3D Slicer Have?

Any capable 3D slicer software needs to optimize these features:

  1. Speed and accuracy - Efficiently convert printer instructions.
  2. Repairs and warnings -  An ability to flag errors and repair them.
  3. Ease of use - Intuitive user interface
  4. File import and processing rate - Quick accessing and processing of files.
  5. Effective support - Generates appropriate support structures.
  6. Print process updates - Calculate and inform users of print time and material/filament needs.

What is the Most Widely Used 3D Slicer Software?

Cura is the most common 3D printing slicer software. By many measures, it is generally accepted as the best and has a wide user community.

Which 3D Slicer Software is the Most Expensive?

Netfabb is the most expensive software, though the price varies depending on the licensing option. 

How Can I Get 3D Slicer Software for Free?

Free 3D printing slicer software packages are available online and can be downloaded anytime.  Below are the steps to get free 3D Slicing Software:

  1. Read 3D slicer reviews
  2. Choose the best slicer software for your needs.
  3. Visit the appropriate website:
  4. Follow the installation and setup guides and you’re ready to slice.

How Much Does 3D Slicing Software Cost?

3D printing slicer software cost varies depending on the brand and the features. Prices range from free up to several thousand dollars per year.

What Is the 3D Printing Slicer Setting?

3D slicer software precisely controls the printer operation, so several variables must be set. Users tend to want more control as they gain experience. Any capable 3D slicer software will offer the user control over a variety of settings including:

  • Print speed
  • Layer thickness
  • Shell
  • Upper/lower thickness
  • Fill density
  • Support
  • Spiralization
  • Retraction

These settings can overlap so changes can have unexpected consequences - single changes are usually the way to go while learning.

How Do I Set Up 3D Slicing Software?

The setup process for 3D slicing software is generally similar across all 3D slicer software packages and is outlined below:

  1. Upload 3D files into the software using a graphical representation of the product. 
  2. Set part(s) orientation
  3. Apply the user-controlled settings
  4. Run a build simulation to assess faults
  5. Send the job to the printer

How Does 3D Printing Slicing Work?

3D slicer software converts models into instructions suited to the 3D printer. It takes a designer's 3D model and renders it into instructions for the printer in the form of G-code, the CNC machine language.

Is a Slicer Required to 3D Print?

All printers require some form of 3D printing slicer software. Printers operate in a simplified and very rigid way which requires this intermediate translation.

Is Slic3r Better Than Cura?

There is a wide range of features to consider when choosing between Slice3r and Cura software. However, the relative benefits of the two packages are easy to evaluate. The table below compares the two slicers’ features:

FeaturesCuraSlic3r
Features

User interface

Cura

Intuitive

Slic3r

Complex

Features

Positioning parts in a build

Cura

Intuitive

Slic3r

Complex

Features

Model information

Cura

Intuitive

Slic3r

Complex

Features

Printer profiles

Cura

Select from a preinstalled list 

Slic3r

User entered from printer manufacturer data

Features

Speed of processing

Cura

Fast

Slic3r

Up to 5x slower

Features

Variable layering

Cura

No

Slic3r

Yes

Features

Conditional G-code

Cura

No

Slic3r

Yes

Selection depends on the experience of the user. Slic3r is more powerful for advanced users but requires deep knowledge. Cura slicer software is user-friendly.

Whatever your experience level or the usage intensity you expect, there is a 3D slicer that will suit your needs.

Summary

This article examined 10 of the common slicer software packages that are available and provided information to assist with making a selection.

Reach out to a Xometry representative today if you need help choosing the best 3D printing slicing software. Xometry offers a full range of 3D printing services for your project needs. Visit our Instant Quote Engine to get a free, no-obligation quote in minutes.

Disclaimer

The content appearing on this webpage is for informational purposes only. Xometry makes no representation or warranty of any kind, be it expressed or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness, or validity of the information. Any performance parameters, geometric tolerances, specific design features, quality and types of materials, or processes should not be inferred to represent what will be delivered by third-party suppliers or manufacturers through Xometry’s network. Buyers seeking quotes for parts are responsible for defining the specific requirements for those parts. Please refer to our terms and conditions for more information.

Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.