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Top 12 Free Slicer Software

Top 12 Free Slicer Software | 3D Printing Spot

Updated by

William Stone

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September 30, 2021

A slicer software links the 3D CAD model and the actual 3D printing process. It is one of the most fundamental operations in 3D printing an object.

However, it is an art that must be mastered to consistently achieve successful results.

Choosing the right slicer software, therefore, becomes a critical aspect of achieving excellent results. We help users with this guide to the top 12 free slicing software that can be used to excel at 3D printing by selecting from a wide range of slicer software applications.

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Table of contents:

What is Slicer Software?

3D printing innovation is sparked by a few fundamental tools that are found in every 3D printer. There's the 3D CAD model and the 3D printer, but there's a crucial piece of the jigsaw that sits right in the middle of these two components. A 3D printer slicer software functions as a link between a 3D model and the printer.

A 3D printer does not understand CAD files, it understands G-codes. Slicing software is used to transform 3D CAD models into a format a 3D printer can understand, called Geometric Codes (G-codes).  The better the instructions, the better the final 3D printed part.

Throughout the years, 3D printing designers have had access to a variety of free slicing tools, with many of them being free. A few of them are limited to basic features, while others provide you full access to the entire package of capabilities that it offers.

Listed below are the top free 3D printing slicer software tools that will help you find the right match for your needs and requirements.

1. Cura

"Cura" is a free open-source, user-friendly 3D slicing software developed by Ultimaker, the world's leading manufacturer of desktop FDM 3D printers. It is one of the most popular free and open-source slicer software programs, designed to cater to a wide range of users.

In addition to Cura, Ultimaker also offers other software solutions which are compatible with Cura and this usage can enhance the final part quality. It is also possible to integrate Ultimaker Cura with supporting solutions such as Ultimaker Cura Enterprise, Ultimaker Digital Factory, and Cura Essentials. This is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive solution portfolio offered by a 3D printer manufacturer.

Cura is a great tool and is suited to all types of users from beginners to advanced users and even those working in industries requiring complete control on the 3D printing process.

It also has a huge resource library that is regularly updated.

Cura also boasts a strong community of experts who assist in case of queries. With over 20,000 members, the community has a speedy response time to questions posed on the forums.

Highlights

  • Create and save 3D printer profiles for quick printing.
  • Integrate CAD plugins with SolidWorks, Siemens NX and Inventor, and several more.
  • To expedite the printing process, a variety of settings can be saved and accessed at any time.
  • Provides users with recommended settings.
  • Every Ultimaker product is integrated seamlessly.
  • File formats supported: STL, OBJ, X3D, 3MF, BMP, GIF, JPG, and PNG.

What makes it a must-have?

  • Unbelievably simple and easy to use. Ideal for beginners
  • Compatibility with a wide range of 3D printers, including branded and custom models, and a wide range of materials.
  • Includes a large feature library for controlling various aspects of 3D printing.
  • Multiple prints can be easily managed with the 3D printer's software control.
  • For advanced users, the possibilities are endless.
  • A continuous stream of new updates and improvements

Why would you skip it? 

  • Cura works at its best when integrated with other software solutions offered by Ultimaker. But if those are not bought, then Cura is slightly less useful to industrial users.
  • Cura lacks important features such as Individual Layer Control.
  • Cura's print time estimates are inaccurate, which can dampen the 3D printing experience.

2. Slic3r

Slic3r is a free open-source 3D printer slicer software. It was developed by Alessandro Ranellucci, a software engineer, along with the help of several contributors and its active community.

It began as an effort inside the RepRap community to provide an open and adaptable software solution for the rapidly growing 3D printing industry.

SLIC3R is widely acknowledged as the source of the vast majority of modern-day slicer features including dual extrusion, distinct extrusion widths, modifiers, the honeycomb infill structure, sequential printing, seamless integration with OctoPrint, AMF support, application of varied infill pattern across layers, variable layer heights, brim, mesh cutting, object splitting into parts, avoid crossing perimeters, and so on.

It is suitable for Intermediate and Advanced users. In addition, Slic3r includes a good resource library, which can be accessed from the official Slic3r website or GitHub.

Slic3r has a very strong and active support community that is constantly resolving problems for software users.

Highlights

  • Generating G-code for FFF/FDM printers.
  • OctoPrint integration is flawless.
  • Conversion between STL, OBJ, AMF, and POV formats is supported.
  • The ability to auto-repair non-manifold meshes.
  • Multiple simultaneous printing is supported by the built-in USB/serial host controller. Each printer has a separate spool queue.
  • Includes a built-in projector and a DLP printer host.

What makes it a must-have?

  • Slic3r is 100% open-source and independent.
  • It's feature-rich, power-packed software!
  • All G-code languages are supported, including MachineKit, Repetier, Mach3, Marlin, Makerware, Sailfish, Smoothie, Makerware, and LinuxCNC.
  • With its plethora of features that allow you to fully control your print, it's a terrific place to start for advanced users.
  • An active user community adds new features regularly, usually based on issues that are generally discussed on the GitHub repository.
  • As it uses real-time incremental slicing, Slic3r is quick and efficient.
  • Works flawlessly on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Why would you skip it? 

  • The sheer number of features may intimidate new users.
  • The user interface (UI) is very basic and appears a bit rudimentary.
  • Printing time and material requirements are not specified.

3. Z-Suite

Z-Suite is developed and offered by Zortrax, one of Poland's leading 3D printer manufacturers. It's a free, all-in-one slicing and 3D printing farm management software.  

Zortrax Z-Suite software was released in 2013-14 and was designed specifically for Zortrax machines. To better serve its LPD and LPD Plus 3D printers, the software has undergone significant changes over the years. Besides Zortrax UV LCD technology, the software also supports LCD 3D printers from third parties.

When it comes to Z Suite, beginners stand to gain the most. Zortrax Library, which allows you to save and download 3D models, is also available. Its support community is moderately active.

Highlights

  • Auto-repair of damaged triangular meshes.
  • If necessary, support elements can be manually added or removed.
  • Detection of very thin walls, which are too thin to print properly.
  • To split a model into parts or remove some of its components, a chosen plane can be cut along.
  • When it comes to modeling, there are a variety of infill options available, ranging from very low to solid.
  • Offsetting the model's outer contours and holes helps correct the model's dimensions.

What makes it a must-have?

  • Excellent compatibility with Zortrax 3D printers.
  • Compatibility with third-party LCD 3D printers.
  • Access to the Z-Suite library for downloading and storing 3D models.
  • Regular software updates are provided to help eliminate bugs and glitches.
  • Runs on both Windows and Mac.

Why would you skip it? 

  • Designed specifically for Zortrax 3D printers; therefore, compatibility with other 3D printers may be affected.
  • Intended primarily for beginners who do not experiment with a wide range of slicer parameters.
  • In comparison to more advanced slicer software, it has limited control over prints.

4. PrusaSlicer

PrusaSlicer was first released in 2016 as Slic3r Prusa Edition or Slic3r PE, based on the open-source Slic3r slicing software. Prusa rebranded it to PrusaSlicer to make a clear differentiation.

Ever since the rebranding, the Prusa team has been working on improving and enhancing the software's available features. The software is unique in that it supports both FDM and SLA/DLP 3D printers, which is rare among slicers.

To accommodate all types of users, PrusaSlicer has three modes: Beginners, Advanced, and Expert. The default interface only shows the most basic parameters. Advanced and expert users, on the other hand, can add more parameters to fine-tune their prints as desired. As a result, it is appropriate for both novice and advanced users. It also has a large and active user community. The Prusa team is constantly updating its features, fixing bugs, and answering users' queries on its forum. Furthermore, more features can be accessed via its resource library, which is also quite good.

Highlights

  • PrusaSlicer is free and open-source, with a clear and simple user interface.
  • Custom support can be created with Prusa Slicer.
  • Masked SLA mode with multi-material support for FFF 3D printing is available.
  • The material profile is automatically updated regularly.
  • Layer height can be set independently for each part of the object.
  • It integrates with OctoPrint.

What makes it a must-have?

  • Simple to learn and use; suitable for users of all skill levels.
  • Around 14 different languages are supported.
  • Over 110 filament and resin profiles
  • Provides a plethora of options for fine-tuning the model for a flawless print.
  • Free and open-source, so programmers can tweak with it to develop their functionality.
  • The software is constantly updated.
  • The majority of new features are automatically updated.
  • Works with both FDM and SLA/DLP 3D printers.

Why would you skip it? 

  • The advanced features may be difficult, confusing, and overwhelming for new users.

5. OctoPrint

OctoPrint is a free and open-source web interface that allows you to control and monitor your 3D prints. Gina Häußge, a Software Architect & Full Stack Developer, created it in 2012 as a support for her 3D printer.

A powerful and versatile software application, OctoPrint can control all aspects of 3D printing and connects easily to your 3D printer. With the easy-to-use UI, you have full control over the 3D printer and the printing process.

Open-source software allows programmers to customize it according to their needs by modifying the source code of the software. There is also a plugin repository built into the OctoPrint application, so any necessary plugins can be installed easily and conveniently. You can also check out our list of the best OctoPrint plugins to enhance your 3D printing experience.

Octoprint is best suited to intermediate to advanced users. It boasts a large library of resources. A strong and active support community rounds out the package.

Highlights

  • Full remote control and monitoring.
  • Using an embedded webcam, users can remotely monitor the 3D printing process.
  • Continuous updates on the status of your print job.
  • The print head can be moved along all axes, the filament can be extruded or retracted, and the hot end and print bed temperatures can be monitored and modified, Printing can be stopped and resumed as needed among other features.
  • Compatibility with the majority of consumer 3D printers on the market.
  • Visualize your bed's leveling with the Bed Level Visualizer.
  • Octolapse can create stunning time-lapse videos.
  • OctoPrint is free and open-source software distributed under the GNU Affero General Public   License (AGPL).
  • It is compatible with Raspberry Pi, Windows, Mac, and Linux.

What makes it a must-have?

  • The 3D printer's control and monitoring have been simplified.
  • The embedded webcam allows for remote monitoring of the 3D printing process.
  • The Web-based interface eliminates the need to download and update.
  • 100-percent open source means advanced programmers can develop new and innovative features whenever they want, however they want. It's a win-win for everyone.
  • It has a large plugin repository from which to select the necessary plugins based on the user's requirements.
  • It has an active and thriving community.
  • Users of any skill level can easily navigate the interface, which is simple and intuitive.

Why would you skip it? 

  • It could be vulnerable to hacking attacks.
  • Due to performance concerns, the Raspberry Pi Zero W is not recommended.

6. MatterControl

MatterControl is a unique all-in-one package that allows users to design, slice, organize and manage their 3D prints with ease. It began as a hosting software but has since grown into a full-fledged software suite.

A free and open-source software application, MatterControl is designed and developed in close collaboration with its users to determine their exact needs and requirements.

There are integrated design tools as well as the ability to control multiple 3D printers simultaneously from a single computer, which makes this a very powerful tool. You have the option of downloading either the stable build or the beta version of MatterControl to get your hands on the latest powerful features and put them to the test.

Beginners and advanced users will find MatterControl to be a useful tool. The resource library has valuable and extensive documentation, as well as a decent support community.

Highlights

  • Designing, slicing, printer management, and remote monitoring are all included in this all-in-one package.
  • Z-offset, speed, and extrusion adjustments can be modified in real-time.
  • Notifies you via text message when a print is finished.
  • Ability to create customized supports.
  • Features a variety of primitives to create a model.
  • Enables remote monitoring.
  • With Cloud Sync, digital files can be accessed from anywhere on the globe.
  • Tools to help you learn the software in depth are available on its official website.

What makes it a must-have?

  • Design, printing, and management are all included in the bundle.
  • Users can save their designs to a cloud-based repository.
  • Cloud-based repositories give users worldwide access.
  • Multiple help wizards offered to assist in tasks like bed leveling, filament change, and so on.

Why would you skip it? 

  • It offers a very limited number of features compared to existing slicing software suites.
  • Not all 3D printers are fully compatible.

7. MakerBot Print

MakerBot Print is a one-stop slicing software solution for the MakerBot family of 3D printers. It is free software that optimizes and streamlines the 3D printing process in any workflow. It allows you to find, prepare, organize, and share 3D prints.

Unlike standard 3D slicer software solutions that support a wide range of 3D printers, MakerBot Print's algorithm automatically adapts slice settings to your specific 3D printer mode and extruder type.

The developers included a mechanism that automatically arranges meshes across one or more construction plates to make it easier to prepare a large number of components.

It is best suited for intermediate to advanced users who need to print quickly and easily.

Highlights

  • Minimum Infill or MinFill print mode saves time and money and reduces material wastage by printing only the necessary number of supports.
  • Import native CAD files like assemblies and parts to expedite print preparation and file management.
  • The Auto Arrange feature will automatically arrange objects over one or more build plates. Your files can be printed on one or more printers in parallel.
  • With cloud-enabled management, you can control and monitor multiple linked 3D printers via live video feeds and print status updates.
  • It provides an animated preview of the path your extruder will take to ensure your print is exactly what you wanted.

What makes it a must-have?

  • MakerBot Print ensures that your MakerBot printer prints at the highest possible quality.
  • It's ideal for beginners, who will appreciate how simple it is to use.
  • Advanced users will appreciate MakerBot Print's assistance with large-scale printing.
  • It is free slicing software that can be used by users of all skill levels as long as they use MakerBot printers.

Why would you skip it? 

  • It's pointless to have this software if you're not going to use MakerBot.
  • When you switch to a new 3D printer, you'll need to learn a new slicer software.

8. Repetier

The Reptitier 3D slicer software application was created by Hot-World GmbH & Co. KG. This is a favorite among RepRap enthusiasts and was a pioneer of 3D printing software. It is also open-source and completely free. Repetier-Host is an all-in-one package with multi-extruder support for up to 16 extruders. Repetier, on the other hand, provides more than just a 3D slicer; it also creates a suite of tools to supplement the slicer, such as Repetier-Server, which aids in remote 3D printing and print monitoring.

It is critical to note that this program is intended for intermediate to advanced users because it contains so many functions that a novice will struggle to use it.

Highlights

  • Repetier-Host directly supports four slicers: Slic3r, Slic3r Prusa Edition, CuraEngine, and Skeinforge.
  • Repetier-Host can support up to 16 extruders simultaneously with different filament types and colors.
  • The Repetier-Informer app keeps you informed about the status of your printer through quick and free push notifications to your smartphone and/or tablet.
  • To print multiple models at the same time, load or replicate as many models as will fit on your build plate.

What makes it a must-have?

  • It is the RepRap community's preferred open-source 3D slicing software.
  • The Repetier-Informer app keeps you informed about the status of your printer on your smartphone and/or tablet.
  • CuraEngine, Slic3r, and Slic3r Prusa Edition come pre-installed with the software.
  • Users can access and operate their printers from any PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet using a web browser.
  • It works with almost any FDM 3D printer on the market.

Why would you skip it? 

  • Many free slicer software applications offer better performance than Repetier.
  • Beginners and experts who are unwilling to experiment should avoid this.

9. CHITUBOX Basic

CHITUBOX is a free slicing software optimized for SLA/DLP/LCD 3D printing. It is designed to slice 3D models for use in SLA/DLP/LCD 3D printing. CHITUBOX now also comes in a PRO version.

In an SLA environment, CHITUBOX provides several capabilities that FFF 3D printer operators are familiar with, such as 3D model orientation, scaling, rotation, and project saving. Users can slice your models with just four clicks thanks to its simple interface and workflow.

The generation of support material is an important aspect of SLA 3D printing, which CHITUBOX does well. Several knobs can be turned to optimize the support configuration for a specific 3D model.

A lot of official documents covering instructions and troubleshooting are available, and there is a large user community which is also quite helpful.

Highlights

  • More than 20 resin printers, including the Sparkmaker, Phrozen Shuffle, WanHao D7 & D8, Anycubic Photon, and Elegoo Mars, are officially supported by CHITUBOX.
  • CHITUBOX supports a wide range of export formats, including native files from all supported 3D printers, as well as STL, ZIP, and its own formats (*.chitubox and *.cbddlp).
  • Editing options include rotation, resizing, cloning, and hole digging.
  • The program's automated model identification and analysis make it simple to add support structures.
  • Working on multiple devices is made possible by multi-model processing.

What makes it a must-have?

  • It has a simple user interface that allows users to slice your models in as few as four clicks.
  • Chitu manufactures the most popular budget SLA 3D printer mainboards. As a result, if you purchase a low-cost resin 3D printer, ChiTu's software is your best bet for making the most of it.
  • Appropriate for beginners and low-profile jobs.
  • While maintaining high-quality output files, the level of flexibility and built-in capabilities can significantly speed up the slicing procedure.
  • It is indispensable due to features such as the ability to create separate print profiles, the Auto-Layout tool, the Hollow tool, built-in screen recording, and preview settings.

Why would you skip it? 

  • It has been known to crash on occasion.

10. Craftware

Craftware is a slicer software developed by CraftBot, a Hungarian 3D printer company, to support its 3D printer line. It is, however, compatible with almost any FDM 3D printer. You have complete control over the 3D printing parameters thanks to the colorful and user-friendly interface. The visualization tools and interactive support management features in CraftWare are just the tips of the iceberg.

CraftWare has one of the best G-code visualizers available in the industry. Each print has a layer-by-layer view from nearly any angle, allowing you to easily identify any areas that need to be modified before printing. As you can see how the completed print will look like in front of you before starting the job, you'll save time and money by making fewer mistakes and regretting fewer decisions.

CraftWare is the best choice for beginners when it comes to slicer software. It also has a good support community for newcomers.

Highlights

  • Modifier Mesh can be used to redefine volume within the model and to reinforce or lighten specific parts of the model.
  • At the same time, individual models or groups of models can be cloned, scaled, moved, and rotated.
  • To best match your slicing experience, Smart-Easy-Expert slicing modes are available.
  • The multilayer contraction feature allows users to slice different areas of an object, such as infill or surface, with different parameters. This function can help you save time and money on the filament.
  • Intelligent IDEX printing solutions enable users to get the most out of the IDEX printing process by maximizing its performance.
  • Users can use the CAD function to design simple objects or to personalize their objects.

What makes it a must-have?

  • Beginners benefit from a user-friendly, simple-to-use, and compact workflow experience thanks to automated pre-settings.
  • An easy-to-use and colorful interface that outperforms many other free and paid software programs.
  • CraftWare employs dual-channel communication for real-time interaction between the software and the printer - yet another fantastic tweaking option.
  • The use of interactive support management makes it simple for the user to obtain assistance.
  • Designed for both novice and experienced users looking for Simplify3D-like functionality without the price tag.

Why would you skip it? 

  • According to some users, the print quality is inferior to that of Cura or Simplify3D.
  • CraftWare does not support as many 2D infill patterns as its competitors and only provides the most basic ones, which is somewhat disappointing.

11. Tinkerine Suite

Tinkerine is a Canadian "Learning Company" that specializes in 3D printers for education intending to provide the next generation with the tools and skills they need to survive in this fast-paced, technologically-driven environment.

Their Tinkerine Suite 3D slicer is designed for education, so it's simple to understand and use even if you've never done any 3D printing before. Tinkerine Suite claims to be "the most user-friendly 3D slicing program," and it truly lives up to that claim thanks to its simple UX and sleek, clutter-free interface.

Tinkerine Suite was designed specifically for their Ditto and Litto line of do-it-yourself 3D printer kits.

Highlights

  • Wireless printing is now available in Tinkerine 3.0. 3D models can be imported, sliced, and wirelessly transmitted to the 3D printer.
  • Exact print time estimation and filament consumption.
  • Basic 3D editing tools are included, as are tools for building model supports and preparing them for printing.

What makes it a must-have?

  • It is a free and easy-to-use 3D slicing software that is ideal for beginners and education.
  • Tinkerine Suite is brimming with features that will provide you with complete printing control when you need it.
  • With its clean, basic UI and a slew of sophisticated capabilities, it's the ideal companion for your Ditto and Litto series of 3D printers.

Why would you skip it? 

  • Although this software can theoretically be used with printers manufactured by other companies, the results will be unpredictable.
  • If you decide to make the switch, you will almost certainly need to learn new software.

12. IdeaMaker

Raise3D, the 3D printer manufacturer, created a free slicing software called IdeaMaker. The IdeaMaker slicer allows users to orient models and change print parameters on a layer-by-layer basis. IdeaMaker was designed specifically for Raise3D 3D printers and thus works perfectly with them; however, like a 3D printer management platform, it works well with a wide range of FDM 3D printers.

The slicer focuses on providing an easy-to-use service: you can prepare your STL, .OBJ, and .3MF files for printing with just four clicks, but if you want some more complex features, the program allows for endless customization.

It features a natively developed, multi-threaded, 64-bit slicing engine that allows for fast slicing speeds. Automatic support creation (and manual support generation), model repair, and auto-layout for multiple files in a single print job can all help to make slicing easier.

Despite its numerous features, the design of ideaMaker remains simple and user-friendly, making it an ideal slicing tool for both novice and advanced users.

This software does not have a large resource library. Much of it is posted on the Raise3D website in the form of blogs. The support community is also small and mostly inactive.

Highlights

The free cut tool allows you to divide a model into two parts and print each one separately.

Users can easily create different iterations of the same STL model with IdeaMaker Texture by applying different patterns to the selected model's surface.

Instead of manually inspecting and optimizing multiple parameters, users can enable automatic optimization with a single click with Automatic Parameters for Optimization.

IdeaMaker, among other things, computes the slicing parameters for layer height, infill structure, and support structure.

Free 3D slicing files for industrial 3D printers and filaments are available from the IdeaMaker Library. It also includes slicing files for a wide range of filaments and printers, not just Raise3D products.

Boolean tools are built into ideaMaker to assist users in carving, splitting, and combining models. It removes the need for users to use CAD software to perform Boolean operations.

What makes it a must-have?

  • IdeaMaker is the best mobile device slicing program. The mobile app can remotely monitor the printing progress of all printers, removing the need to physically inspect the printer during the process.
  • IdeaMaker is the best option for creating complex designs because it allows you to instantly divide components using the program's settings.
  • Customizing isn't as difficult as it would be with other types of slicing software because users can easily switch between profiles.
  • The vast majority of commercial FDM printers are compatible with IdeaMaker.
  • It's easy to use and intuitive, making it ideal for both beginners and professionals looking for a stress-free slicing experience.
  • IdeaMaker is more than just a slicer; it's also a platform for managing 3D printers.

Why would you skip it? 

  • Some users claim that it takes some time to master IdeaMaker when you first start using it. The steeper learning curve may be a detriment.
  • Because it is less popular than competitive programs, its support community is smaller and less robust.

About THE AUTHOR

William Stone

William Stone

William has spent 20 plus years in the custom manufacturing industry as a COO, CEO and Owner of various custom product businesses. His experience has exposed him to all types of manufacturing from die cast, die struck, injection molding, CNC machining, laser etching, engraving and of course 3D printing.

Learn more about William Stone

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Top 12 Free Slicer Software

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