In 3D printing, the design and build of mechanical, electrical hardware and electronic systems is one half of the story. The other important half is the Slicing/print preparation that happens with the software. I realized this over the course of my experiments. To attain a beautiful and accurate 3d printed parts, the hardware components and software preparation must work together along with a strong understanding of material science.
So far, we have focused on the hardware components of the printer. In this short post, I will briefly write about my experiences with two slicing softwares:
- Prusa Slicer
I will provide links where appropriate for in-depth description by people who have worked with it for a long time and better understanding.
Most of you might know the prusa slicer and its interface. Many people have a misconception that prusa slicer is for working with prusa printers only. It is not the case, you can define your own printer, start and end g-code, extruder and other parameters. I did those customizations and you can see that it in this picture below which shows the various profiles I created over the course of years by tuning various parameters for different setup.
You can read about the general info and features of prusa slicer here. My first impression of Prusa Slicer is it is very beginner friendly. You can get started with slicing and tune important parameters to get a very good print. It has improved a lot over the past 4 years. A dedicated team of developers work with this slicer and they keep on adding new features. The user experience is fantastic with this slicer and it is intuitive. I would recommend 3D printing beginners to start with prusa slicer to understand various parameters before trying out other slicers.
I got very good prints with this slicer. I could do adaptive slicing and adjust the layer height where I need to print intricate details. It is a very nice feature that I like. Please have a look at Prusa’s web page to get more on other details. I started with Prusa slicer, explored and tuned many features but I was looking for something to fine tune and have more handles to play with for understanding the process in depth. During this time, Michael Hackney posted a series of blog post and videos about KISSlicer. He has compiled them into a post here. Please refer to it before installing Kisslicer.
When I started to try KISSlicer 1.6.2, to be honest, I was repelled away by the user interface. It was difficult for me to wrap my head around it. Please have a look at the interface below:
It is hardly inspiring and the settings follow a different way compared to prusa slicer. I gave up after a couple of tries and focused on getting more knowledge by working with prusa slicer. After a few months, listening to people in Michael Hackney’s slack channel and his videos, I was determined to try it out completely. I am glad I did that. It has a learning curve and once you understand the developer’s logic, then you can control many parameters than Prusa slicer.
I will list the main advantages here:
- You can calibrate the material – preload, temperature, flow rate and retraction by simple experiments
- Fractional loops for better overlap to improve bonding of infill with perimeters
- Crown paths to infill gaps for stronger parts
- You can determine the starting point of the seam
- You can adjust fan cooling percentage for perimeter, loop and infill separately
- Visualization of paths within a layer
- Separate profiles for material, printer, support and styles
However, there are some features in KISSlicer that needs to be improved:
- Support generation in KISSlicer is not as good as Prusa.
- Adaptive slicing adjustment where I need is a good feature in Prusa. In KISSlicer, the automatic adaptive slicing based on your min and max step thickness is OK, but I cannot adjust a specific portion of the part
Here is a slicing of E3D lion in KISSlicer:
What is my experience and conclusion?
I got very good prints with Prusa Slicer and beautifully good prints with KISSlicer. Yes, you read it right. Somehow, my prints looked beautiful once I past the learning curve and understand KISSlicer’s way of working it gave me beautiful prints. I use the calibration wizard a lot to calibrate my material, especially preload. If you tune it properly, it will give fantastic prints even for retraction torture models. I have developed a routine now in KISSlicer after watching Michael Hackney’s videos and reading his blog posts. Both the slicers are fantastic and KISSlicer gives you a bit more handles to play and understand the process.
TL; DR – Prusa slicer if you are beginner, then you can move on to use KISSlicer. I use both slicers depending on the part to take advantage of their features.