Simplify3D – you cant own a 3D printer without hearing that name. Its the crown prince of slicers.
I’m sure everyone has a favourite 3D printer slicer software Ranging from Cura, Pronteface, Slicer, and a lot of the free ones are very good.
However Simplify3D is something else, yes it has a premium price tag of $149 but Simplify3D is so confident in their product that they claim right under the price “Try it for a full two weeks! If you don’t love the software, return it for a full refund.”
I was lucky enough to have previously used a friend’s copy so was already sure that I wanted my own. I had been using Cura for about 9 months and my profiles were pretty sweet. Well I thought so listening to the like of Makers Muse and Teaching Tech. After hearing them talking about using Simplify3D software and in addition to my own brief experience, it was enough for me to chance an arm and contact them.
A flurry of emails was exchanged resulting in a 3 month Press Pass to evaluate the latest version of the software 4.1
And So It Begins
Account created and files downloaded I set to work. The initial setup process was painless. Despite having 6 printers with 4 different slicer profiles. I was able to find pre-made slicer profiles for 3 out of the 4. I didn’t expect to find one for my 3 in 1 Creality CP-01 due to how new the printer is.
With a little research, I was blown away! Simplify3D work in concert with printer manufactures in over 30 countries to ensure their product supports as many different machines as possible straight from the start.
That’s impressive! Simplify3D
Loading the new slicer profile “as is” I set off with calibration cubes and Benchys on my Ender 3 Pro, CR10S Pro and CR10S5!
Switching between the slicer profiles for the different machines was a breeze. Simply load the slicer settings and select the machine I wanted from the drop-down menu!
Fast forward a couple of hours and I was amazed. My Cura profile was good but the one from Simplify3D was great straight out of the gate. The layers just looked so much smoother everything printed so much nicer! I was smitten. Was this love at first slice?
Exploring the software I started to poke my nose into the various menu options. Let’s be honest. There are 2 types of techy, those who want it to just work and people like me, who can’t leave things alone. This is where I discovered that you can use multiple slicer settings for separate objects on the build plate. For example, say your printing a model and you have some smaller more complex parts and some larger less detailed bits you can adjust the slicer settings for each item. Be it print speed, layer height, support definition etc. Every setting in the slicer profile can be tuned to each item or batch of items giving maximum control and flexibility over how you print.
Simplify3D is loaded with features
Another interesting feature and this one is common to all slicers is the machine control panel. The layout is similar to most of the others but let’s be honest there are only so many ways to present the same information. Simplify3Ds machine control panel is clearly laid out and easy to use.
Almost intuitive and a nice feature is the Emergency stop button that halts everything immediately. Ideal if you click the wrong axis and almost crash into your part on the print surface!
Another great find is the bed leveling wizard. Myself, I use a feeler gauge. I tried paper but didn’t like it. but it’s a pain to keep scrolling the menu and moving the axis by hand and turning the steppers off. It doesn’t give you the exact same spot every time so I was glad to find that Simplify3D software has the hand tool that moved the nozzle to the right place for you. Running around all 4 corners twice letting you get a spot on setting up. It’s that sort of useful addition that makes this slicer worth paying for. Well in my mind at least!
Included in the Simplify3D software there is a wizard for setting up dual extrusion however, I don’t have a dual extruder printer to test that with. Possibly something to invest in in the future?! Reading up on the Simplify3D site I have found that the slicer can support up to 6 extruders!
Another handy option is the support structure settings. They are infinitely customisable! You can add supports remove them or just give the program a parameter and it will stick supports everywhere! Or if you tell it, only from the build surface. This has been handy if you’re printing an item with a thread. It saves picking the supports out of the thread…and trust me that can be really, really irritating!
Yet more Support
Sticking with supports, often it’s a pain to remove them on the underside of objects and they can damage the surface of the print. Simplify3D has an elegant solution to this. In the support menu, there is a section for “Dense Support Layers”. What this does is print a layer or layers depending on your settings between the part and the supports. Now a word of warning this setting can cause damage to finer details, but will in most cases make support damage a thing of the past!
I would imagine you could use the dual extrusion settings to use a soluble filament for your support – I haven’t tried this but I don’t see anything preventing it!
The final support feature I want to include is the ability to create stronger support structures by changing the layer direction inside the support material. When printing something large with a tall support, it is less likely to fail.
One at a time? Not for S3D
The features keep on piling up! Next on our hit list is “Sequential printing”. This is a printing mode that allows you to optimise how multiple parts are printed by allowing you to print parts one at a time. This helps to minimise the stringing that can occur when moving between models.
An important part of this mode of printing is an intelligent software that will detect potential collisions and change the print procedure accordingly. This allows sequential printing to be used with more complicated prints, such as multiple dual-extrusion prints.
Once you’re all sliced, Simplify3D gives you the option to run a pre-print simulation. This allows you to see the exact actions your 3D printer will carry out before you even click start. You can watch an animation of the extruder as it lays down each individual layer. In addition, it shows you the speeds, sequences, and settings that are used for your print. As a result, this gives you the ability to quickly check these settings. All this is designed to stop wasting time on failed prints and simulation to locate potential issues before even loading your Gcode into the printer. Now obviously it can’t account for everything but its a pretty damn good start!!
Finally, I want to talk about the back up that Simplify3D gives. Freely available on their page is the S3D Forum. All manner of knowledge is available here from the most seasoned printer to the newest on the block, with print quality guides and information abound. It’s hard to find a reason not to join!
When discussing Simplify3D a lot of people are put off by the cost. I can understand that.
I personally would like to see them implement some kind of Tiered subscription, where users pay a monthly fee and dependant on the fee get access to a set level of settings. For a small fee, set basic access then increase the features and the cost proportionally to open up more of the advanced features. Similar concepts can be found in CNC software. Even the likes of Microsoft do monthly subscriptions for their MS Office Package. Perhaps something for Simplify 3D’s team to consider?
I’ve barely scratched the surface of this amazing piece of software. I’m hoping that I will be able to continue to use it and continue to find more features. Enabling me to bring you more detailed articles in the future. With the impending release of Simplify3D V5, it’s an exciting time to be interested in slicers!
Have you seen this review from makezine on this amazing software check it out.