3D printing is a process of multiple steps. First, you must create, purchase, download, or somehow obtain a design/model. Next, you need to use software that can communicate to your 3D printer and tell it what to build. This will control all aspects of your print.
Finally, the 3D printer will create the object for you. Obviously, the physical 3D printer is the most exciting piece of this process and what people talk about the most. However, I want to review what I believe is the most important part of the process, the slicing software.
More specifically, I will review one of the most popular and talked about software, Simplify 3D. For those of you who don’t already know, Simplify 3D is a slicer software. This means it is the software you need to install on a computer in order to edit, control, and communicate designs to a 3D printer.
The slicer software can control all settings of your print from size, to color, and find any errors in the design that will cause trouble while printing. Once your design is exactly how you want it, the software then takes the design and translates it into specific code and instructions that your 3D printer will understand. And from there, the 3D printer does the rest.
I am a firm believer that all good prints start and end with the design and settings of the object you want to create. Many of our users and others in the 3D industry will tell you that software can make or break your print, depending on which you use and how you use it.
What intrigues me the most about Simplify 3D is the cost of the software. Most slicer software is available for free due to the state of the industry and open source technology trend.
So, throughout this review, I want to help you determine if Simplify 3D is worth the money. And if it is worth the money, is it the right slicer for you. I will highlight some of the core features, best aspects, and the not so good about the software. I hope by the end you will know if you are ready to spend on Simplify 3D or if you should look at some other, possibly free, options.
Cores Features of Simplify 3D
Let’s begin with some of the main features of Simplify 3D.
Advanced options and settings
The software is designed for all types of users. It comes with the tools and ease of use for first-time users, and it has all the advanced tools for the professional 3D printer. The advanced mode helps you tweak every appearance of your print. Simplify 3D can pretty much do anything you want a slicing software to do.
It has variable print settings. These adjust and control the settings for different parts of a single print, and comes ready to handle multiple extruders. The user is given total control with many optimization options for improved quality and given the ability for more precise prints.
Some of the other built-in tools will help identify and repair mesh problems within the model. This ensures your prints will come out flawless.
The easy to use interface will allow anybody to become a professional.
Optimized Three Printing Modes
The Simplify3D supports three modes when you are printing multiple models simultaneously:
- Single Process Printing Mode: For printing identical models;
- Continuous Printing: For printing models that require different settings;
- Sequential Printing: Prints several layers before moving to the next model which results in a cleaner surface finish;
Simplify 3D is equipped with the power to accurately simulate your prints before you actually begin the printing process. The simulations will show every move of the extruder(s) and each line of the build to ensure it meets your exact specifications. These simulations allow you to identify any issues your print may encounter beforehand.
You no longer will waste time and resources on failed prints. The simulations let you verify all the settings of the print, including exact speed and sequences. These animations will give you more insight into your prints than ever before.
This amazing feature allows you to view the entire print process in preview mode, or even jump to a specific section of it. The software has the option to display only a single layer or build up the print and show it layer by layer.
This preview, allows you to check each and every step of the printing process on your screen, therefore, it’s great for optimizing and troubleshooting your model.
Accessibility and File Support
Something I really like about Simplify 3D is it is accessible to just about anyone and supports a wide range of file formats for import and export. This makes it very easy for all users as it will cater to each person’s specific needs.
Simplify3D supports a wide range of desktop 3D printers. They listed over 125 individual 3D printers on their website. The Slicer Software is compatible with MakerBot, Marlin, Repetier Sprinter, XYZprinting, FlashForge, and Sailfish firmware.
The software will run on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux Systems. In terms of importing files, it supports 3D models in STL, obj, and 3mf.
It will convert images from jpg and png formats. For exporting files, you can get Gcode, x3g, MakerBot, 3w, g3drem, bfb, and hsv. Clearly, this slicer software is designed for the masses.
Dual Extrusion Wizard
The Wizard was introduced in version 3. It interprets configuring dual extrusion prints for two-color prints. If you have a dual extruder printer, the software by default settings will create an ooze shield. This ensures that any leaking and oozing will attach to the shield and not to the model. You can easily adjust the setting by clicking on “Edit Process Settings”.
3D Printer Support
The Simplify 3D software can be used on almost any 3D printer. The company partnered with other 3D printing companies around the world to test and build their software. This ensures the slicer is compatible with all the latest 3D printing technology.
Extensive testing and optimization make it possible for you to use this slicer with many 3D printers as soon as you have them set up and ready to print. This means less time trying to connect your software and printer and more time creating perfect prints.
Simplify 3D has a lot of really cool feature and I want to highlight some of the best ones.
Handle Multiple Printers
This software is designed to be compatible with hundreds of different printers. And the best part is you don’t need to learn a different software for each printer you own or use if you are using Simplify 3D as your software.
You can connect the software to more than one printer at a time. It can easily switch between machine configurations and settings, which allows you to print even faster with multiple machines. Now, all it takes to print is one central application.
Simplify 3D has award-winning support structures and designs to help create your print. The specialized structures ensure the highest quality of prints for even the most complex designs. The supports also breakaway easily from the finished product and don’t require any tools to remove them.
On dual extruder printers, the above-mentioned Wizard allows you to print support structures in another material, e.g. a dissolvable filament.
You can also customize where the print supports will be based on areas for more stability or remove structures for quicker prints. However, if you aren’t sure where the supports should go then the software will suggest spots for you.
Resources and Customer Support
The software offers a ton of resources to improve your print quality, and if you can’t figure it out on your own the company has a team of experts that are ready to handle any request you may have.
Users are always raving about the excellent help they receive when they encounter issues with the software or printers themselves. You can be assured you will not encounter an issue that can’t be solved when using Simplify 3D.
Simplify 3D is great software. You can tell a lot of time and resources went into the development of this product, and it is meant to be user-friendly for all levels of users. With that said, there really are not too many flaws users have found. It is easy to use, it is quick, and it creates beautiful prints. However, there is one “negative” thing that makes this software stand out against its competition, the cost.
People love free things, and they especially love free, quality goods. Unfortunately, Simplify 3D does not meet both of those criteria. The software runs about $150 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here). While this isn’t a terribly expensive product, there are a ton of other options on the market that don’t cost a thing.
And many people will argue that some of the free software is just as good, if not better than Simplify 3D. So, you will need to do your research and figure out which slicer is best for you to decide if you want to spend money on one or not.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Simplify3D Support Auto-Leveling?
Yes, Simplify3D supports many printers using auto-leveling. The software allows you to customize the starting script that is used at the start point of each print. If you want to add auto-leveling to this script, go to the Scripts tab of your process settings and make sure you have a G28 and then a G29 command at the beginning of this script.
What is .factory file?
Factory files include everything you need to re-create your current session in Simplify3D. Such files include the 3D models, orientation details, custom support structures, process settings, and best of all, the final file is compressed to save space on your hard drive. It is perfect for sharing with others if you want them to be able to re-create your exact print in Simplify3D. To save the factory file, click on “File” and then “Save Factory File As”.
I hope my review can help you decide the answer to this question on your own. As I am sure the answer to this will change based on the need and preference of each individual. While there are many competitors out there and many of those don’t cost a thing, Simplify 3D is still a great piece of software. It is fast, efficient, and creates quality prints with an amazing package of tools.
This software is capable of printing some of the more complicated prints our testers have tried with functioning joints. But with its high performance comes the price tag, so is it the right piece of software for you? This really depends on your needs.
Are you looking for a software that lets you save a little time for each print and create beautiful objects with many printers and extruders all at once? Or are you a hobbyist looking to tinker around with software and learn the ropes of 3D printing?
In the end, the decision is yours. I believe Simplify 3D is completely worth the money if you can afford it and you will use it to its full capabilities. However, if you just need a basic slicer to get the job done then find yourself a free software that fits your needs.