After I create my design in my CAD (computer aided design) program, as I talked about in last week’s post, it’s time to take the .STL file into a slicing program.
With my Cubex printer, the slicer is built into the host program, taking you from the CAD design right to the host program. While it was one less apparent step, you also had no control over the process, and slicing is pretty important.
Slicing is the step in which the item you are going to print is reduced to planes, each of which will be laid down by extruder types of printers. Both the Cubex and Cerberus 3D’s deltabot printers are extruders.
With the Cerberus 3D printers, I go from CAD to a slicer program called KISSlicer (the KIS stands for “Keep It Simple”). There is a slicer built into what will be the next program the file goes to – and which we will discuss in the next blog post – but it doesn’t work as well.
So Steve Graber of Cerberus 3D recommended using KISSlicer. It has a LOT of settings, many of which I am still learning. The more I print, the more I understand what at least some of them can do, and I will eventually learn them all.
At first I used the free version of KISSlicer, but then I discovered that the paid version opened up more RAM, which makes slicing easier. For $42, it was worth buying it to get the extra RAM, especially for these big prints I’m doing with the Gigante. Buying it also also turned off the ads.
KISSlicer does accept a limited number of file formats. Of course, .STL is a popular choice.
One nice thing about this slicing program is that you can store settings for particular materials, designs, etc. This is especially helpful if you are going to be repeating prints.
The amount time it takes to slice depends on many factors, including the size of the print, its complexity, the inner supports, etc. Usually it’s just a handful of minutes.
Once the slicing program is finished, it’s time to bring the file into the host program. We’ll talk about that in our next post.