The Role ‘Slicing’ Plays in 3D Printing

When researching 3D printing processes, you’ll probably encounter slicing. There are many different forms of 3D printing, some of which use powder material to build objects, whereas others use liquid material to build objects. Regardless, nearly all of them require slicing. Slicing is an essential step in the 3D printing process that’s used to create the code-driven instructions for the respective 3D printing. To learn more about slicing and the role it plays in 3D printing, keep reading.

What Is Slicing?

The term “slicing,” when used in the context of 3D printing, refers to the use of computer software to convert the digitally created object model into instructions for the 3D printing. For a 3D printer to build an object, it needs instructions. Most 3D printers cannot build objects using only a CAD-created STL file. Rather, the STL file must be converted into instructions, which are then used by the 3D printer to build the object.

Some of the most common types of slicing software used in 3D printing include the following:

  • Slic3r
  • Ultimaker Cura
  • KISSlicer
  • REALvision
  • 123D Catch
  • 3D Slash
  • Blender
  • TinkerCARD
  • Voxelizer

How Slicing Software Works

The purpose of slicing software is to convert the object model file into instructions for the 3D printer. To perform this task, the software separates the object into many layers. It’s called “slicing” because it “slices” the object to create many layers. After the layers have been created, the slicing software applies various values to each of them. The values denote how the layers should be built. In other words, they tell the 3D printer how and where to move, as well as how much material to use, to build each layer of the object model.

While slicing software is designed primarily to convert object models into instructions for a 3D printer, they often have other noteworthy features. Most slicing software, for instance, allows you to control the infill. Other types of slicing software allow you to add supporting structures, which are oftentimes essential for large and complex objects. Furthermore, rafts, skirts and brims can all be controlled in slicing software.

In Conclusion

Slicing is an essential step in 3D printing that’s characterized by the use of software to convert an object model into instructions for a 3D printer. The software essentially slices the object model into multiple layers. Each of these layers are then given values that denote the way in which it should be built.

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