Simplify 3D, unlike the other slicers in this series, is commercial software. At $150 USD it costs more money to buy than some people pay for their 3d printer! Do the features justify the price?
Beware – Simplify 3D is commercial software
So, as mentioned above, there is one clear difference between Simplify 3D and all the rest of the major players, and that is this is software you have to purchase if you want to use it.
That is a clear deterrent and enough reason for many people to overlook it. There is not even a free trial. The closest to a trial that they provide is a two week refund period. If you are not the kind of person who is printing every day then two weeks might seem like a bit of a stingy amount of time to work through what is, after all, supposedly a powerfully fully featured piece of software.
For that reason alone, I give it one strike. For a lot of people $149 is a lot of money to risk, given the popularity of the “Which is the best 3d printer I can buy for under $300” threads in forums and social media. If you are on a tight budget, and 3d printing is a hobby and not a revenue generating exercise, stop right here and look at the other slicer software in this series. Despite what some losers in discussion groups will advise, as we will see as we dig deeper, it is not something you should pirate as a first resort. Well, unless that is you lack morals and are 100% confident you won’t install something nasty along with the slicer … 🙂
That said, there might come a time when piracy might be necessary.
What, Chris!? You just talked about morals!
Well, yes. Yes, I did.
The problem is the license system requires your software to call home and check that everything is paid and above board. This is fine … when it works. For some people that does not work, and that can be a hassle for anyone who paid the price and needs the software to run right now. What happens if the company goes bust? Do our bought and paid for slicers start refusing to work?
So we get to the advantage of Open Source, other than price. The founders and developers can’t stop you accessing the application they developed, plus someone can fork the software to run with their own enhancements and bug fixes when the originator can’t or won’t maintain it any longer.
Speaking of enhancements and bug fixes, Simplify 3D isn’t exactly on an aggressive upgrade schedule. Other than multi-lingual support and more supported printers, not much has changed since Summer 2015! With Slic3r and Cura out there adding new features for free, recently, you would expect more from a commercial rival …
Now we have the bad stuff out of the way, let’s take a look at the good stuff.
Why you might want to try Simplify 3D
Despite all I said above, Simplify 3D is in fact my favourite 3D printing application. Not just slicer, but my favourite of all the software I use in my 3d design and print.
It is just that intuitive and useful for me, and the people I have taught. It saves me time, and produces good results, and allows me to get the full capabilities and potential out of my collection of 3d printers without requiring switching between different apps.
Out of all my 3D printers, and those I regularly work with and on, there are only two printers I use a different package with. My Prusa i3 Mk2 gets better results with the Prusa Slic3r, naturally, and the Cube has its own proprietary POS slicer 🙂
So while a collection of free applications can actually achieve more than Simplify 3D can provide, the speed and convenience of Simplify 3D makes it my daily driver. If you are time poor but have the budget to spare, that’s the main reason I would check it out. If you have the time, and/or the budget is not readily available, you are better off with a combination of tools, you will get a better result and have more control. Make sense?
My favourite Simplify 3D features
Let’s run down the best bits of Simplify 3D, shall we?
- Speed – given the hardware, Simplify 3D is fast in operation, and can cope with big models.
- Convenience – the machine profiles, and filament profiles within those, are just so darned convenient, giving you easy push button quality settings and also granular access to every setting you need.
- Finesse – Other slicers allow you to move, configure, and orient your models and parts, but not like Simplify 3D, and S3D has the ability to fully tweak your print’s configuration down to one part on the bed, or at a certain layer. I love being able to CMD/CTRL-L to place an object’s face on the bed. I adore that you can move an object below the print bed to start the print on a certain layer. It really shines with multi part assemblies.
- Control – You have excellent control over your infill, support (down to placing support where you want it), and every other aspect you require – more so than any of the other slicers, to the point where it competes with specialised tools like Meshmixer.
- Repair – One of the reasons people see quality improvements using Simplify 3D versus other slicers is not just down to the settings parameters and the powerful slicer logic but down to the repairs S3D can make to the imported mesh. Never underestimate the mess a bad STL can make on your print bed 🙂
Simplify 3D is not perfect, it doesn’t really have unique features you can’t find elsewhere, and it is not cheap. That said, it has saved me way more than $150 in time, and I get a lot more than $150 of value out of it on a daily basis. It’s an excellent piece of software, and given some more development it could be even better.
Next up in this series, we will compare the slicers we have looked at so far – do let us know your thoughts!