So there are many slicers on the web these days : Cura, Slic3r, KISSlicer and the ‘new’ kid on the block : CraftWare. CraftWare is a free slicer made by CraftUnique primarily for their Craftbot Plus printer range however (just like the others ) it works with just about any printer that accepts G-Code. So I will be doing a overview of CraftWare and then I will be putting it head to head to other slicers in a test model which you will be able to download further below.
One of CraftWare’s strongest points is it’s user interface; It’s clean, simple and easy to use. Out of all the slicers it has the most beginner friendly interface, making it easy to understand a move around models. The buttons are big and colourful and are all labelled, which again makes it very user friendly. The camera control is very similar to other slicers however these is no move option which is usually assigned to mouse 3 (scroll wheel click), I find this very useful and it can get annoying especially if you are printing multiple parts. However you can use the home button on your keyboard to reset the camera position which helps.
So first let’s take a look at the main UI. There are several transformation functions on the top such as select, move, rotate, scale and including auto drop and drop plane. There is also a add model button and remove model, and there is a undo and redo button which I think is very important. Of course you can also drag files into the window to add them in which is what I do. On the left there are project buttons which allow you to save model configurations. Then there is a Slice and supports button. The supports are very good in CraftWare, as one killer feature that puts this a step ahead other slicers which is the ability to manually place your own supports.
Let’s talk about the slicing settings. There are two ‘modes’ easy and expert. I think easy is made more for the CraftBot printers as there is next to no options, with only quality, material, support and raft. However when we change to expert mode the game changes. There are a plethora of options and what is even more impressive is that there are help dialogues and previews for just about every option. This makes it easy for any person to get started with 3D-printing. Even the advanced options, of which there are many, have help dialogues. Most options have a preview window that shows a G-Code simulation of the option which is again very useful for people new to 3D-Printing and even the ones who have been doing it for a little bit to help them understand more advanced options. This feature overall, I think, is very impressive and helps set apart CraftWare from the various other slicers available.
Now to the main part of the show: How does it slice? Well first of all it is very quick (from my tests) it beat Cura and Slic3r in speed. The G-Code visualisation is also very good; You can view layer by layer, lines within layers and even the G-Code at that line. The colour coding is also excellent and another feature which I find very useful is the filament and time estimations. Craftware will tell you how long the print will take , what time it will finish , length and cost of filament. I haven’t had any errors or crashes yet with CraftWare either.
So how does it print? Well I designed a little test print to test CraftWare and compare it to other slicers. Is is a small 4cm, 2cm by 1.5cm rectangle with 3 rods and 3 holes in varying sizes and two cones: one indented into the rectangle and one extruded out. It also had “3D Printer Chat” engraved onto the side of it, the text is very small and hard to print. Well here’s how to came out:
The print was at 0.2mm layer height and it came out very well. The text was good and mostly crisp and it is all readable. All the rods and holes printed very well except the 1mm hole didn’t come out too well . The surface finish and layer accuracy was also excellent
Comparison with other Slicers
So no this wouldn’t be complete with comparing CraftWare to other free slicers. Well I printed the printing test on all 3 slicers and I will post a picture without the labels, try to guess which slicer did what and tell me how you did in the comments. The slicers were CraftWare, Cura and Slic3r:
So how did you do? Here are the labels:
So lets compare the quality of the prints. So first off I want to say that I used mostly default settings. Well lets take a look a Slic3r which I thought was a bit disappointing: the surface finish on the side was okay but on the top it was very bad as the top layer didn’t look complete. The 3 rods printed and 2 of the holes printed, the smallest hole didn’t print well at all. However in saying all this the cone was amazing, the best of all the slicers.
So now it’s between Cura and CraftWare. Cura did do the best text and holes and rods. However CraftWare had the better cones. So in term of print quality I’ll leave it up to you between Cura and CraftWare. But why not download the file here : Test Print, and try it out for yourself on your printer.
I hoped the blog was interesting to you. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments below. If you enjoyed the article and/or you found it interesting please support us by rating it and commenting below, also share what results you got with the test print.