3rd party slicer?


#1

Hi everybody,

I was wondering if there is a 3rd party slicer that is compatible with the Form2 printer (paid of free).

I’m a researcher at a bio-fluids lab and we use the printer to create casting molds for optical silicone.
The molds are of biological structures (mainly human air-ways) which means that support placement and management is crucial (this is the main complaint).

Other than the support placement, here are some other features that, i feel, crucially needed in the PreForm software (and some other bothering issues after a year of daily use):

  1. Mirror feature.
  2. Bulk auto-changing existing support point size (in a selected area, all the model etc.).
  3. Area/line selection for support placement (the supports will be applied using the defined settings only in the
    selected area or on the “drawn” line).
  4. The software feels very inefficient with the PC resources.
  5. The work area view can be improved (rotation of the model should be done around the point where the mouse
    courser is, full 360 degree control etc.)

Thanks!


#2

Hi there, hopefully I can help with at least the main question :

Although I am not offering any solution I am allowing myself to comment on your other points :stuck_out_tongue:

  1. This is a tricky one. On one side Formlabs is being carefull not turning Preform into a disorganized feature-creeped piece of software which is a mindset I couldn’t be more OK with… This mindset places the limit to the things you can do with a model to what a slicer, just like a CAM software, is supposed to do : transform a 3D model into G-code. With this in mind, offering ways to alter the model isn’t in Formlab’s tasklist at all, and I personally agree with that. In your case, the argument could be that if you are spending a lot of time orienting and setting up the supports it would make sense to be able to mirror it.

  2. Couldn’t agree more `although when compared with other potential improvement this is pretty far down the list.

  3. I’m not sure how that would work because I would imagine that Preform would take into account previous support placement to decide where to place the ones higher up on the print.

  4. It does eat up all the ressources available but does it mean it’s inefficient ? I see it more like it’s optimized to use the full capability of multi-core CPUs which is not often the case even these days. One thing that would be useful for some would be a setting to force Preform to use only 80% or so of the CPU bandwidth, in the meantime you can do that from the task manager by reducing the number of Cores that preform.exe is able to use.

  5. Both of these points have been adressed in the past and while I agree with you, Formlab’s word is that they aim for Preform to be easy and intuitive to use for beginners primarily, and people who aren’t used to work with CAD or other 3D modeling softwares seem to find it more intuitive to navigate with a fixed rotation point. The rotation restriction I do not understand how that would make it easier for beginners…


#3

We did actually do some testing on the rotation restriction. We saw a number of users who got confused when things ended up “upside down” and struggled to get back. This seemed to be mostly users who were not familiar with CAD programs, and users who were using a mouse.

If you use a 3dConnexion SpaceMouse, you’ll notice that doesn’t have this restriction because we didn’t see similar issues in that case. Of course this means that if you switch back and forth between a mouse and a spacemouse things get a little strange. We’re trying to come up with a clean solution to that. If you’ve got any great ideas we’d love to here them. But as JohnHue said, we’re trying to avoid making the UI too messy with options.


#4

Thanks for the Netfabb tip, i wasn’t familiar with that software and it looks intriguing.

About the other point (besides supports placement/management), I’m more than happy to discuss them, even if just for the sake of the argument.

  1. I agree with you on the point of, keeping the software “slick” and away from unnecessary features, but after a year of heavy and extensive use, subjectively, i can’t see any other feature that is more called for as the mirror feature.

  2. I think that this point is dependent on the “style” of usage, for example in my case as most of the print models i prepare manually (orientation and support placement), some of them can take up to 4 hours for one model (placing supports, waiting for the printability heat map to update, applying the supports to see how the support is constructed and interacts with the model…), and usually we print up to 4 model. So if there is a need, for any reason, to change the point size it can literally take the whole day. But again, it’s just me.

  3. Can’t see the problem here with the previously placed supports. The same way the software updates the support structure every time there are new supports manually added (for example if the original structure was created using the auto support generator, there is no restriction on editing the structure by removing or adding points).

  4. I’m light years away from even starting to pretend that i understand anything related to software efficiency, but it just feels that even when it “sucks” all the resources of the PC, it still feels slow and clunky. The PCs at the lab are more than capable, build to run demanding fluid simulations (design to utilize multi-core CPUs).

  5. we all were beginners at some point or another, and i think there is a reason why most of the 3D model oriented softwares do not use fixed rotation point, otherwise i think it’s like teaching the beginners bad habits.


#5

Thank for the reply.

My suggestion on the rotation matter, and it might be relevant to other features that can be considered “messy” for the new user.
Make the software with two modes, beginner and advanced.

“We saw a number of users who got confused when things ended up “upside down” and struggled to get back.”
As i wrote to JohnHue, we all were beginners at some point, and getting confused is part of the learning process.
But again, the two modes can fix this problem, by incorporating the beginner and advanced modes.


#6

Hi, this is a little bit of a late response, but I have similar requirements for 3D printing in dentistry, and recently found a slicer by formware 3D. It looks to fulfill almost all of your needs, including moveable supports. https://www.formware.co/slicer


#7

Hey thanks, I’ll be sure to check it out.
Actually I found out about the ChiTuBox slicer, didn’t had the chance to test it out yet, but it seems that the reviews are very positive.