Slicer (3D printing)

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The slicer, also called slicing software, is a computer software used in the majority of 3D printing processes for the conversion of a 3D object model to specific instructions for the printer. In particular, the conversion from a model in STL format to printer commands in g-code format in fused filament fabrication and other similar processes [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] .

The slicer first divides the object as a stack of flat layers, followed by describe these layers as linear movements of the 3D printer extruder, fixation laser or equivalent. All these movements, together with some specific printer commands like the ones to control the extruder temperature or bed temperature, are finally written in the g-code file, that can after be transferred to the printer.

Additional features of the slicer[edit]

Near all slicers have some additional features, like:

Different densities of infill (in yellow), as generated by Cura slicer, from solid to hollow.
  • Infill: solid objects needs a big amount of valuable material (filament, ...) and print time. The slicer can automatically convert solid volumes to hollow ones, saving costs and time. The hollow object can be partially filled by internal structures, as internals walls, to provide additional robustness. The amount of these structures is called infill density, being this parameter one of the adjustments to be provided to the slicer.
Support structure (in blue) generated by Cura software.
  • Supports: most of the 3D printing processes create the object layer by layer, down to up, with the layer under construction being deposited over the previous one. As consequence, all object parts must relay, at least in some part, over another one. In the case of an object layer that is floating (by example, the flat roof of a house or an horizontally extended arm in a figure), the slicer automatically can add supports for it. The support touch the object in a way that is easily detachable from it at the finish stage of the object production.
Comparative of base layers (in blue): a) skirt; b) brim; c) raft, generated by Cura software
  • Rafts, skirts and brims: printing of the first object layer, the one in contact with the printer bed, has some peculiarities, like problems of object adherence to the bed, rugosity, smooth deposition of the first amounts of filament, ... [6] . The slicer can automatically add some detachable structures to minimize these problems. Usual types of these base structures are [7] a skirt (a single band around the base of the object without touching it), a brim (several lines of filament around the base of the object, each one a few more far from it until touch it, but not under it) and rafts (several layers of material that forms a detachable base, being the object printed over it).

List of slicer software[edit]

There's a wide collection of slicer applications, some of them free and open-source. Some of the most used ones are [4][8]:

Name License
Ultimaker Cura GNU LGPL
PrusaSlicer GNU AGPL
Simplify3D Proprietary
KISSlicer Proprietary
ideaMaker Proprietary
REALvision Proprietary


  1. ^ Evans, Brian. Practical 3D Printers: The Science and Art of 3D Printing. apress. ISBN 978-1-4302-4393-9.
  2. ^ Keon Aristech Boozarjomehri. 3D Printing at School and Makerspaces: Project Learning with 3D Printing. Cavendish Square. ISBN 978-1-6804-5016-3.
  3. ^ Liza Wallach Kloski, Nick Kloski. Getting Started with 3D Printing: A Hands-on Guide to the Hardware, Software, and Services Behind the New Manufacturing Revolution. Maker Media, Inc. ISBN 978-1-6804-5020-0.
  4. ^ a b "Slicer - RepRap". Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  5. ^ "What is Slicing Software, and what does it do?". Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  6. ^ "When should I use a raft, when should I use a brim?". 3D Printing Stack Exchange. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  7. ^ "Rafts, Skirts and Brims!". Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  8. ^ "Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers of 2018 (Most are Free) | All3DP". All3DP. 2018-06-01. Retrieved 2018-09-15.