The new Smooth Variable Layer Height feature for Slic3r Prusa Edition improves surface quality while maintaining print speed.
Acting as the bridge between your 3D model and printer, slicing software is an essential part of the 3D printing process. Just as with consumer 3D printers, there is a wide range of slicers to choose from. Some of these options are designed for beginners, while others are geared towards the professional maker community.
For users of the popular open source Prusa i3 MK2 3D printer, the slicing software Slic3r is a match made in heaven. The specialized Prusa Edition of this slicer software offers a slew of unique features, and best of all, it’s free.
Now, Slic3r Prusa Edition is boasting yet another innovative feature, Smooth Variable Layer Height. The latest release aims to give the user more control over surface quality without sacrificing print speed.
One issue that 3D printing users often encounter is maintaining adequate surface quality throughout the entire print. While a normal layer height might translate well for most of the model, other areas may end up with an unpleasing aesthetic effect. Although you can reduce the layer height to improve surface quality, doing so often drastically increases the print time.
To overcome this, Slic3r Prusa Edition has released the Smooth Variable Layer Height feature. Users can now seamlessly set various layer heights to different parts of their 3D model.
To showcase the usefulness of this new feature, Josef Prusa presented a use case involving a scaled up 3D Hubs Marvin model.
Printing at 0.2 mm layer height, the print only takes 1 hour and 50 minutes. But, the top of Marvin’s head ends up with an unpleasant staircase effect. When the layer height is reduced to 0.1 mm, the surface quality improves but print time increases to 3 hours and 45 minutes.
The Smooth Variable Layer Height features allows you to combine the best of both worlds. Users can now “paint” the sections that they want printed in greater detail. Simply select the 3D model in the Plater tab and enter the Layer Editing setting.
By default, the green colored parts are set to 0.07 mm, gradually smoothing to the primary layer height of .25 mm. This smoothing process is completely unique to Slic3r, and prevents the layer height from jumping and ruining the smoother surface effect.
In Marvin’s case, the Prusa team was able to reduce the print time by 1 hour and 25 minutes while maintaining exceptional surface quality.
While the Smooth Variable Layer Height feature is certainly the most exciting Slic3r Prusa Edition update, it isn’t the only one. The slicing software also includes improved support structures.
By rewriting supports to C++, the Prusa team effectively sped up and stabilized the support structure generation process. Supports are now generated on the grid, saving time and reducing the final g-code file size. In addition, the new “Slicing info” box will show the amount of filament used, as well as its cost.
All in all, the latest Slic3r Prusa Edition release focuses on faster prints and improved surface quality. The innovative additions prove why their open source printers remain amongst the most celebrated machines on the market.
License: The text of "Slic3r Prusa Edition Unveils Smooth Variable Layer Height Feature" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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