17 Best 3D Slicer Software Tools for 3D Printers (Most are Free)

by Anatol LockerOctober 3, 2017

Do you want to get the best results from your 3D printer? Here are the best 3D slicer software tools – most of them are free.

The process that ignites 3D printing innovation is comprised of a few essential tools. Obviously, you have the 3D model and the 3D printer, but there’s an instrumental piece to the puzzle right in between those two points. 3D printing slicer software essentially acts as the middleman between the 3D model and printer.

For those who don’t know, a 3D printing slicer prepares the selected model for your 3D printer, generating g-code, which is a widely used numerical control (NC) programming language. There is a large number of slicing software out there, many of which is free. To help you find the perfect fit, here’s a list of the top 3D printing slicer software tools.

Note: At the end of this guide, we answer some essential questions about 3D slicer software.

But for now, let’s get started with the best 3D slicer software tools to use with your 3D printer.

17 Best 3D Slicer Software Tools for 3D Printers (Most are Free)

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1

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers 3DPrinterOS

3DPrinterOS is a cloud-based platform that integrates all the different components essential to 3D printing. The name tells you pretty much what it is all about: You plug your 3D printer into your computer and host it from within your browser or the desktop application. Apart from slicing, 3DPrinterOS includes different options to repair your mesh, downloading from Sketchfab.com or printing on an industrial machine, but some premium features are only available for a fee. The company has pledged, however, that slicing will always be free.

There are three 3D printer slicer apps integrated into 3DPrinterOS the standard 3D slicer software (dubbed “Cloud Slicer”), “Slicer 2” and a dedicated “Makerbot Slicer”. The range of supported 3D printers is very broad, as can be expected from a commercial solution.

“Cloud Slicer” and “Makerbot Slicer” are virtually identical in terms of their UI and functionality. Like in other 3D slicer software tools, you can choose between varying levels of complexity (“Simple”, “Advanced” and “Expert”). As a bonus, the app can also estimate the Price of the printed file. “Slicer 2” pursues another UI philosophy: You can choose from a list of presets that you can adapt to your needs or, if you like precise control over your prints, you dive straight into the intricacies of manually configuring your print from scratch.

What‘s great? Once your G-Code is generated, you can preview it in the “Toolpath Viewer”. Also if you are really confident in your abilities, you can enter your Slicer settings as JSON code.

What’s not so great? Of course, we would like to use the premium features for free. But that would just unfair to the company, right?

Suited for 3D printing beginners and semi-pros who want a reliable environment to print their 3D models.

Where can I get it? On the 3DPrinterOS webpage.

Price Freemium

OS Browser, Windows, Mac

2

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers Astroprint

This cloud-based platform is built around a similar philosophy as 3DPrinterOS and Octoprint. The actual hosting of 3D printers is achieved through a dedicated device, called Astrobox (basically a Raspberry Pi). This allows you to monitor and control your printer from any web-enabled device in the world. If you are into that sort of thing.

If you don’t have a 3D model to print, you can either download from one of the integrated web-services, like the search engine Yeggi, download from the repositories CGTrader and Thingiverse. Or design a 3D model from scratch in the web-based 3D modeling tools 3DSlash and Leopoly. In case your 3D model won’t print properly you can connect Astroprint to 3DPrintCloud to get it fixed. Finally, if you don’t have a 3D printer of your own, you can have your files printed via i.materialise.
The 3D slicer software itself is very straightforward. In simple mode, you choose your material and the desired quality. In the advanced mode, you can leave no stone unturned to achieve your goal.

What‘s great? The integration of many other web services promises to be a great gateway exploring the world of desktop 3D printing.

What’s not so great? Maybe it’s just us, but initially, we had a hard time finding the 3D slicer software! It’s hidden in the File Manager, where it is not listed among the other options like downloading. You have to click on the little preview rendering of the 3D model to get there.

Suited for beginners who shy away from investing time and money in dedicated 3D printing software suites.

Where can I get it? On the Astroprint webpage.

Price Freemium

OS Browser, Raspberry Pi, pcDuino

3

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers Craftware

Another 3D slicer software developed in-house by a 3D printer manufacturer — in this instance Hungarian startup CraftUnique — to support their crowdfunded CraftBot 3D printer. However, it can be used by other 3D printers, too.
Like Cura, the CraftWare application can be switched between “easy” and “expert” modes, depending on how confident you’re feeling. It’s a zippy application, with some outstanding G-Code visualization, where each feature is represented as a different color. But the real standout feature is individual support management. To our knowledge, this is only available elsewhere in the paid application Simplify3D.

However, please note that this 3D slicer software for 3D printers is still in beta, so bugs can still occur in day-to-day use.

What‘s great? The interface is nicely designed. The 3D slicer software operates fast and is very easy to use. If you change settings, you’ll get live visual feedback to what part of the print will change – that’s a terrific feature.

What’s not so great? There are minor bugs in the software – it‘s still in beta.

Suited for beginners to pros who need 3D slicer software to prepare STL files for 3D printing

Where can I get it? on the Craftware webpage.

Price As of today, the software is free. This can change if it gets out of Beta.

OS Windows, Mac

4

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers Cura

Cura was developed, hosted and maintained by 3D printer company Ultimaker and it’s community. As the company has its roots in Open Source, the 3D slicer software came out as a freebie – and it stayed that way ever since. Over the years, Cura even added profiles for competitor 3D printers. Many companies wouldn’t do that.
It can be fed STL, 3MF, and OBJ file formats – which the 3D slicer software will also repair if needed. It will show a toolpath, printing time and material estimates.

Don’t miss: Cura 3D Tutorial - How to Use Cura Slicer Software

What‘s great? It‘s suited for novices and experts alike as a beginner, you’ll just see the most important settings. For experts, there are over 200 settings to fiddle with. The graphical user interface is fast; with some workarounds, you can even handle dual material prints. The 3D slicer software handles huge STL moderately fast. We found Cura gave us good, not necessarily excellent results.

What’s not so great? There are some minor features missing (i.e. Octoprint support) and the print time estimates are sometimes off around 10 – 20 percent.

Suited for 3D printing beginners and semi-pros

Where can I get it? On the Cura webpage.

Price Free

OS Windows, Mac, Linux

5

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers IceSL

IceSL is beyond any doubt one the most remarkable tools available for 3D printing. It is not merely a 3D slicer software, but also a 3D modeling tool. In the left window, you can edit your mesh directly in Lua code. At first glance, this may seem like a frightening prospect, but as in OpenSCAD, this enables some nifty parametric modeling. The center window is a live preview.
Finally, on the right, you can find a wide array of slicing settings that is sure to dishearten any beginner. Besides the usual features we expect from a 3D printer slicer (supports, dual color printing etc.), IceSL boasts ooze shielding, that protects your model against “extruder drippings”. Ugh! Another useful feature is the layer by layer view of GCode.

What‘s great? Die hard coders will love the amount of control IceSL gives them.

What’s not so great? Why is there no Mac version of this gem?

Suited for intermediate to advanced users who like to keep their 3D printers close, but their G-Code closer.

Where can I get it? On the IceSL webpage.

Price Free

OS Windows, Linux

6

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers KISSlicer

Don’t be fooled by the acronym of this program, it may be called “Keep It Simple Slicer”, but depending on which version you choose, it can be actually a pretty sophisticated piece of software. Some have hailed it as a worthy alternative to the other 3D slicer software tools, others complained about the confusing interface.
While the free version is sufficient for amateurs that print with only one extruder, the pro version enables multi-head printing. GCode can be generated with a minimum amount of settings. For advanced settings, you’ll need to purchase the pro version. This version allows for combining multiple STL files into one print.

What‘s great? KISSlicer is a worthy alternative to the other 3D printer slicer software tools on this list.

What’s not so great? While this 3D slicer software supports most desktop 3D printers on the market out of the box. If you happen to need GCode for a printer that is not on the list, you have to manually adapt the program.

Suited for beginners and advanced users who can take advantage of the pro features.

Where can I get it? On the KISSlicer webpage.

Price Free, Pro $35 (commercial), $25 (educational)

OS Windows, Mac, Linux, Raspberry Pie

7

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers MakerBot Print

MakerBot Print is dedicated to the MakerBot line of 3D printers. Unlike general 3D slicer software tools that cater to a broad range of 3D printers, MakerBot Print’s algorithm automatically adjusts slice settings for your specific 3D printer mode and extruder type. The engineers included a very nifty feature that is useful when preparing a whole series of components, it will automatically arrange meshes across one or more build plates. You can access and print Thingiverse objects from within the program. Plus, this program has a feature known from OctoPrint: you can monitor and control your 3D printer via webcam built into your printer.

What‘s great? With MakerBot Print you will get the highest possible quality from you MakerBot printer. Beginners will love its ease of use, while advanced users will appreciate the help in printing on a larger scale.

What’s not so great? If you decide to switch to another 3D printer manufacturer, you will have to learn a new 3D slicer software as well.

Suited for Beginners to advanced users who want to print without hassle.

Where can I get it? On the MakerBot webpage.

Price Free

OS Windows, Mac

8

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers MatterControl

MatterControl is a 3D printer host for your desktop computer, that means the two will have to be connected for the entire print. Alternatively, you can save the GCode file on an SD Card. The interface is remarkably well structured. To the left side, you can reorder the print queue with your mouse (That’s right! Now you can open your own hub!). Toggle to the right and slice the prints to your liking.

MatterControl features three slicing engines (MatterSlice, CuraEngine, and Slic3r), making it easy to experiment and compare the results. In basic mode, you can adjust layer height, fill density, support material, and raft. The settings can be saved and applied to successive prints. The advanced features niceties like auto mesh repair and support for multiple extruders. In order to foresee possible hiccups of your print, you can preview the entire process layer by layer.

What‘s great? This is the sort of 3D slicer software that will still be relevant as your expertise in 3D printing matures.

What’s not so great? Depending on your 3D printer, the quality does not yet compare to other, more mature 3D slicer software.

Suited for beginners to advanced users who want to print a lot.

Where can I get it? On the MatterControl webpage.

Price Free

OS Windows, Mac, Linux

9

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers Netfabb Standard

Netfabb has come a long way. What started out as freeware developed into a mighty toolkit for handling STL files.  This 3D slicer software for 3D printers offers great features that allow you to analyze, repair and edit STL files before you get to the slicing stage.

Autodesk acquired Netfabb in 2015. Since then, has program has split to three products: Netfabb Standard, Netfabb Premium and Netfabb Ultimate. Don’t let the “Standard“ in the name fool you; even the smallest version is actually very powerful 3D printing software.

What‘s great? Netfabb Basic is a true swiss army knife for 3D printing. Students can try the software for three years.

What’s not so great? The price. As with every other Autodesk software, the pricing model has switched to a subscription. As of April 2017, you get a trial for 30 days, where you can check out all the professional features. The annual price is $1.000 for Standard, the Premium version will set you back $4,300. Ultimate prices aren‘t even shown on the website.

Suited for Semi-professional users who need 3D slicer software to prepare STL files for 3D Printing.

Where can I get it? On the Autodesk website.

Price $1000 to $4300 (annual subscription)

OS Windows

10

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers OctoPrint

The OctoPrint is a nifty piece of machinery that hosts your 3D printer, allowing you to control and monitor all its activities from your web browser and handheld devices. The application itself is installed on a Raspberry Pi, that you can extend e.g. with a webcam and a plethora of plugins. This way, 3D printing jobs can be loaded onto your printer without the pesky shuffling of SD cards. Among the many great features that we have discussed elsewhere, is an integrated 3D slicer software based on the trusted CuraEngine. Which basically means that you won’t even need to slice your files on a computer anymore, you can just send over the STL model and the printer will do the rest.

Don’t miss: Setup Guide to OctoPrint on the Raspberry Pi 2

What‘s great? This testament to human ingenuity is completely Open Source and gaining more and more followers every day.

What’s not so great? What is there not to like?

Suited for Intermediate and advanced users want to stay in control of their equipment.

Where can I get it? On the OctoPrint webpage.

Price Free

OS Raspberry Pi, Windows, Mac, Linux

11

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers Repetier

If you’re ready to graduate to the next level of 3D slicer software but want to stay within an open source framework, then Repetier is a compelling option. This is the great-grandaddy of 3D printing software and the favored choice within the RepRap maker community.

Now, the thing to note is that this application straddles the intermediate to advanced user spectrum. Pitched as an all-in-one solution, it offers multi-extruder support (up to 16 extruders!), multi-slicer support via plugins, and support for virtually any FDM 3D printer on the market. Be prepared to do a lot of tinkering!
Moreover, Repetier Host also offers remote access features, via Repetier Server. Similarly to OctoPrint, you install it on a

Raspberry Pi, so you can access and control your 3D printer from anywhere via a browser on your PC, tablet or smartphone.

What‘s great? It’s the favorite open source 3D slicer software of the RepRap maker community.

What’s not so great? Print quality is reportedly better on newer 3D slicer software, like Cura.

Suited for Intermediate Users who are not afraid to tinker.

Where can I get it? On the Repetier webpage.

Price Free

OS Windows, Mac, Linux

12

New Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers SelfCAD

Geared toward the entire 3D print workflow, including 3D model design, SelfCAD is an interesting new beast. More a one-stop-shop for makers designing their own models to print, in addition to a robust 3D model app, SelfCAD utilizes its own 3D slicer in its print preparation process.

Indeed, you can channel your freshly crafted model over for slicing, with remarkably advanced print preparation controls, plus all the usual suspects such as layer height, infill density by percentage, print speed et al. Simply download your generated g-code, and you’re good to go.

What’s great? After slicing you get a detailed layer preview with slider. This also display estimated print time, material usage and final model weight. Also, Spaghetti infill — while chaotic and prone to mess up your print — is a lot of fun.

What’s not so great? One step short of true greatness. A 3D slicer software is still one step removed from actually printing. If we could pipe the g-code directly to a printer via some kind of cloud interface SelfCAD would be a force to be reckoned with.

Suited for Beginners looking to design printable objects. The simple interface gives a low jumping on point, but the sky is the limit.

Where can I get it? on the SelfCAD webpage

Price: Free 30-day trial, $9.99/month

13

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers Simplify3D

Simplify3D is a 3D slicer software for pros. It supports nearly all available 3D printers – you can download and import over 100 3D printer profiles. If your model isn’t on the list, it’s relatively easy to add a profile on your own.

The software allows you to import, scale, rotate and repair your 3D model until it is just right. The import of STL, OBJ or 3MF files is very fast, and even huge meshes are displayed in no time.

There are a ton of settings which you can fiddle around with: Extruders, layer control, various infill methods, temperature and cooling settings, even raw G-code and scripts can be edited. These settings can be saved in so-called “Processes”, which can come in handy if you’re experimenting with different settings, 3D printer nozzles or different filaments. Help is available by hovering over the buttons.
What‘s great? Simplify 3D can help you to get the quality you always looked for. And even though this 3D slicer software offers a huge variety of options, you won’t feel overwhelmed using it. Also, the quality of the documentation is outstanding. Professionals will love the editable supports.
What’s not so great? It would be unfair to say „the price“. Still, it’s quite an investment for a hobby 3D printer enthusiast.
Suited for everyone who wants to get quality prints. Though there‘s a basic mode, you should have some experience with a 3D printer, though.
Where can I get it? On the Simplify3D webpage.
Price $150 for a 2-computers license.
OS Windows, Mac

14

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers Slic3r

Slic3r is open source 3D slicer software with a reputation for adding bleeding edge features not found anywhere else. The current version of the 3D printing software includes multiple views so users can better preview how their models will 3D print.
There’s also an incredible new honeycomb infill that’s created in three dimensions: the first time that an infill pattern that can be varied across layers instead of repeating the same pattern. This can greatly increase the strength of the internal infill and your final print.

Another feature is direct integration with OctoPrint. When files are sliced on the user’s desktop, they can now be uploaded directly to the user’s OctoPrint box with the click of a button.

Over the years, the community experimented with settings, materials and news 3D printers – all that knowledge went into Slic3r. It the birthplace of many features we take for granted today (to name a few: multiple extruders, brim, micro layering, bridge detection, command line slicing, variable layer heights, sequential printing (one object at a time), honeycomb infill, mesh cutting, object splitting into parts…).

What‘s great? Thanks to real-time 3D slicing, the software is reasonably fast even on slow computers. If you change a setting, the software only calculates affected parts. It includes real-time incremental slicing, 3D preview, toolpath preview in 2D and 3D, 3D honeycomb infills, a customizable bed shape, integration with OctoPrint, pressure regulation and much more.

What’s not so great? There are no print time and material estimates so far.

Suited for 3D printing experts and pros. Newcomers will find this 3D slicer software intimidating thanks to „feature overload“.

Where can I get it? One the Slic3r webpage.

Price Free

OS Windows, Mac, Linux

15

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers SliceCrafter

This online 3D slicer software is based on IceSL, which means Mac users also to enjoy it. Well, at least part of it: Unlike the desktop 3D slicer software, you cannot edit OpenSCAD code. While the slicing capability is mostly identical with IceSL, some of the advanced stand out features that make IceSL so great are missing. An interesting option is that you can upload your STL file via a link.

What‘s great? You can generate GCode without installing a 3D slicer software or sign up to one of the larger online services.

What’s not so great? We would love to see more features from the desktop application.

Suited for Advanced users which like to tweak for perfect results.

Where can I get it? On the SliceCrafter webpage.

Price Free

OS Browser

16

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers Tinkerine Suite

Most of the 3D slicer software tools on our list do a decent job, considering they generate G-Code for almost every 3D printer out there. If you want more than “a decent one”, take a look at Tinkerine Suite. It was specifically designed for the Ditto and Litto series 3D printers and prides itself to be “the most user-friendly 3D slicing software”. Indeed, the user interface is refreshingly uncluttered. Still, this 3D slicer software is capable of basic editing and creating support structures for 3D models. The settings for Tinkerine’s 3D printers can be selected quickly, with only a few, yet powerful, options to tinker with.

What‘s great? Tinkerine Suite guarantees to achieve the best possible results for Tinkerine’s printers.

What’s not so great? If you decide to switch to another 3D printer manufacturer, you will have to learn a new 3D slicer software as well.

Suited for beginners to intermediate users who want to make sure their prints are pitch perfect.

Where can I get it? On the Tinkerine webpage.

Price Free

OS Windows, Mac

17

Best 3D Slicer Software for 3D Printers Z-Suite

Z-Suite follows the same philosophy as Tinkerine Suite. It is a program dedicated to the 3D printers of one manufacturer – in this case, Zortax. The program has limited editing capabilities that allow you to split a given mesh into several pieces, or scale it. Although the clean user interface leaves only a few choices to the user, the included 3D slicer software fulfills basic slicing needs. It features four infill options for you to choose from and allows you to create support structures for your mesh. Z-Suite produces proprietary “Z-Code”.

What‘s great? You get a program that is custom fit for your 3D printer brand and your 3D printer brand alone!

What’s not so great? The flip side is, the 3D slicer software is custom fit for one brand of 3D printers alone…

Suited for Beginners users who want to make sure their prints are pitch perfect.

Where can I get it? On the Zortax webpage.

Price Free

OS Windows, Mac

Essential Questions about 3D Slicer Software

What does a 3D slicer software do?

So, what does a 3D slicer software do? A 3D slicer is a piece of software, running on a computer. It acts like an interpreter for your 3D printer. You feed it a 3D file, usually, that’s an STL, M3F or OBJ file (which describe coordinates in a three-dimensional grid). The 3D slicer software then cuts the object in many horizontal layers and produces a path a printhead can follow – line by line, layer by layer.

So, any decent 3D slicer software will create:

  1. a toolpath (more or less intelligently) based on the geometry of your STL-file.
  2. a percentage of infill to save 3D printing time and material.
  3. constructions of support material, if the geometry is difficult to print. These supports are meant to be removed after the print is finished.

After analyzing the file and offering you choices and settings, the software generates a „G-code“ file that‘s tailored for the machine you’re using. It describes coordinates, nozzle and bed temperatures, fan control, printhead speed and other variables.

Why is a 3D slicer software so important?

If you use a good 3D slicer software, you will get better results, even from a mediocre machine. If the 3D slicer software isn’t good, you will more likely encounter a misprint or run into common 3D printing problems.

What separates a good 3D slicer software from the bad?

There are several variables you can check in search for the best 3D slicer software for your 3D printer:

  1. STL import speed: It doesn’t seem to be a big thing, but if you’re handling complicated files on a slow computer, you don‘t want to fetch a coffee until the software is finished displaying the file.
  2. viewer capabilities: If you don’t own some CAD software, you’ll probably see your printable file for the first time when you open it in the 3D slicer software. A good software should offer the possibility to turn and zoom to any point of your 3D model flawlessly and fast.
  3. STL repairing: A good 3D slicer software won’t leave you in the dark. If there are errors in your 3D model, it should bring them to your attention – and ideally, repair them automatically.
  4. Usability: How difficult is the 3D slicing software to use? Are there settings for beginners? More options for experts? Does it have a modification history? Does it store files locally or in the cloud? Does the workflow feel right? Can you use Undo and Redo? All these questions for a “good” 3D slicer are highly subjective – but you’ll get the idea.
  5. Preview: A good 3D slicer software will give you estimates on the duration of the print and the material used. These facts, of course, shouldn’t differ from the actual print itself.
  6. Cost: Is the software free or do you have to pay for it?
  7. Help: We’ve checked if beginners and pros alike get enough on-screen help – or if you can ask other users in a forum or user group.

What are the best 3D slicer settings?

If you want to know the best 3D slicer settings for beginners, please take a look at this article:
3D Slicer Settings for Beginners – 8 Things You Need to Know

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