In 3D printing, your slicer is one of the most important tools. There are several options available.

You have the vendor backed systems.

  • Ultimaker Cura (Cura QT, New Cura, ect)
  • Lulzbot Cura (Old Cura)
  • Makerbot Print
  • Craftware
  • Tinkerine Suite
  • Zorax Z-Suite

Then you have your commercial software

  • Autodesk Netfabb
  • Simplify 3D
  • KISSlicer
  • Repetier Host

Browser Based (These host your 3D printer in a web browser to upload g-code and remotely control it)

  • OctoPi
  • 3D Printer OS
  • Astro Print

And Open Source or Freeware solutions

  • IceSL
  • Slic3r
  • MatterControl

Now one thing to keep in mind is that while may of these bill themselves as full featured slicers, they implement the engines of another application behind them. To slim down the list of applications to review, lets rip out the ones that are based on each other or use a different slicer as the engine. Also I will exclude the ones specific to a single manufacturer’s printer as a very small number of people will be looking to use these. Autodesk Netfabb will also be excluded sadly, simply due to cost. Your normal user not printing as a full time day job simply will not be able to afford this application, and currently neither can I. This leaves us with a much smaller list.

  • Craftware
  • Cura
  • IceSL
  • KisSlicer
  • Simplify3D
  • Slic3r

So first, lets see what each markets itself as.

CraftWare is a FREE, fast, easy-to-use slicer software that converts your digital 3D object into a .gcode toolpath format understood by most 3D printers.

CraftWare primarily works as a slicer for solid 3D digital objects, but it is also an excellent tool for many other tasks. You can interactively manage your prints, thus reducing build time and finding the optimal build supports. CraftWare also utilizes the most impressive gcode visualizer on the market; this allows you to see each print layer-by-layer, from any angle, easily allowing you to detect any places that you may want to modify before printing. It is basically like seeing a finished print in front of you before you press the start button.

Source : Craftware Homepage

Cura prepares your model for 3D printing. For novices, it makes it easy to get great results. For experts, there are over 200 settings to adjust to your needs. As it’s open source, our community helps enrich it even more.

Source : Cura Homepage

Aside from this, you also have the classic version of Cura, and the modified Lulzbot edition specifically for Taz series printers. For the most part for the scope if this article, the differences amount to regressions, so we will focus on the latest official build.

A GPU accelerated modeler and slicer

IceSL is a modeler and slicer, all in the same software. Think of it as OpenSCAD meets Cura. By directly slicing the models IceSL avoids the expensive mesh CSG computation that most other softwares have to perform. On-screen preview is accurate and slicing is fast.

IceSL Homepage

KISSlicer is a fast, easy-to-use, cross-platform program that takes 3D files (STL) and generates path information (G-code) for a 3D Printer. The FREE version has all the features needed for the hobbyist who uses a single-head machine. The PRO version adds multi-head printing.

Source : KISSlicer Homepage

While no simple mission statement is provided as with the above, Simplify3D markets itself as the most advanced professional printing software you can get. Faster slicing, intelligent customizable supports, and tuning options. They also tout their dual extrusion control and individual parameters for each part on the bed.

Slic3r is:
Open: it is totally open source and it’s independent from any commercial company or printer manufacturer. We want to keep 3D printing open and free.
Compatible: it supports all the known G-code dialects (Marlin, Repetier, Mach3, LinuxCNC, Machinekit, Smoothie, Makerware, Sailfish).
Advanced: many configuration options allow for fine-tuning and full control. While novice users often need just few options, Slic3r is mostly used by advanced users.
Community-driven: new features or issues are discussed in the GitHub repository. Join our collaborative effort and help improve it!
Robust: the codebase includes more than 1,000 unit and regression tests, collected in 6 years of development.
Modular: the core of Slic3r is libslic3r, a C++ library that provides a granular API and reusable components.
Embeddable: a complete and powerful command line interface allows to use Slic3r from the shell or to integrate it in server-side applications.
Powerful: see the list below! (in source link)
Source : Slicer Homepage

Now that we have introduced each of the slicers we will be examining, stay tuned as we go through some benchmarks and play with the features of each!

Programmer and Controls Engineer with over 10 years experience in IT and Industrial Automation. Avid gamer and Geek with an interest in nearly all things technical.