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Software is the second most importent thing when it comes down to 3D printing. To end, I will tell you what the most importent thing is in 3D printing. But first, my attempt to bundle some info on this best free 3d printer software topic.

FREE 3D PRINTER SOFTWARE – THE BASICS

When it comes down to get started with 3D printing, you first need hardware. This could be tricky, or you could consider a TripodMaker ;-). However, I had the biggest difficulty in finding the right software during the Era when I was playing with my RepRap prusa i1 and i2. There is no such thing as the best software set. I will try to provide you with a brief overview so you can decide what fits you best.

1) 3D PRINTER SLICER SOFTWARE

 

A 3D printer can not cope directly with files from a CAD program. 3D or CAD files need to be processed before they become printable. This process is called slicing. The slicer (software) is the first tool we use when 3D printing.

A slicer uses commonly used .STL files to create .Gcode files. Gcode files contain instructions for the 3D printer on where, when, and how fast to make movements. However, Gcode programming is not very suitable for CAD and 3D design. This is where the slicer and the .STL file comes into use.

The .STL file is a 3D model file that can be exported by all common CAD and 3D modeling software. The slicer software then slices the .STL 3D model into layers and print paths to create a 3D printable .Gcode file.There are several slicer programs out there, but I found these 2 the most suited for my needs:

1) Slic3r
2) Kisslicer
3) Cura

Keep in mind that slicer settings are not always as straightforward as you think. It is always some trial and error before you can get started with printing. With your TripodMaker, predefined settings are available.

SLIC3R

Slic3r is an original project of Alessandro Ranellucci (aka. Sound). The program is under constant refinement from Alessandro and other contributors. By the time of writing, the current version is 1.0.0RC2.

+ Easy setup
+Works Stand-alone
+Compatible with several Hosting programs
+Supports multi-model printing
+Can split and save STL files
+Can handle big STL files
- No integrated tool path viewer after slicing.

KISSLICER

In my opinion this is the best slicer that is out there right now. It might be not as good looking but is performs great. It has a Free version for single printer-head printers. The paid Pro Version has multi printer-head support and multi-model printing.

+ Best surface finish
+ Easy setup
+ Works Stand-alone
+ Compatible with several Hosting programs
+ Integrated tool path viewing
- Supports only multi-model printing in payed version
- Can't split and save STL files
- Can’t handle super big STL files

3D PRINTER HOSTS SOFTWARE

 A host is a software program on your computer that communicates with your 3D printer. It makes sure that you don’t have to type the Gcode “command-line style” to control your printer head around the printer surface and its temperature.

The Gcode is pushed to the printer through a USB connection. For single moves during calibration, this is really handy.

Next to the navigation part,  you can monitor temperature and position of your hot-end during print.

Make sure you install the right drivers to be able to connect your printer to your computer.

Two free available host programs are

1)Printrun (info and download)
2)Repetier Host (info and download).

While Printrun is is only a host program, Repetier Host integrates also Slic3r software and previewing modes.

PRINTRUN

Easy control of the printer with navigation cross
2D representation of status during print
Compatible with all kinds of slicers

REPETIER HOST

Easy control of the printer
Integrated Slic3r functionality (Slic3r and Cura)
3D representation of Slicing result
Compatible with all kinds of slicers
Can be configured for Delta printers like the TripodMaker.

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