Large scale 3D printing is becoming more widespread, with manufacturing companies embracing the advantages of this technology at this new scale, be it with industrial robots or large gantry machines. One of the obstacles of large-scale printing as a production strategy has been removed today – the availability of suitable slicing software.
“Our first attempts at programming for large scale printing were a disaster. We relied on existing software designed for desktop printing. Now, several years later, we made slicerXL.com so that this barrier would be removed for other pioneers.”
– Volker Ruitinga, founder of Vertico
What does SlicerXL do better?
One of the main problems that occur when using the desktop slicers is that far too many coordinates are generated. When larger machines attempt these paths, they become very jittery, ruining the print. SlicerXL fixes this issue. Additionally, the transition between layers in large scale printing is much more important because at this scale the so-called seam is much more notable. In the advanced features of slicerXL you can adjust your seam position and transition distance. These are just some of the features of this new approach to slicing.
This type of slicing software is based on the use of the Grasshopper plugin for visual coding in the CAD program Rhinoceros 3D. Many large-scale 3D printing companies have developed their software on this basis. For a long time, this type of computing power was reserved for offline programming making it less accessible. Step in project partner Packhunt.io. With their proprietary cloud-based computing platform, they are able to do the thousands of calculations from the cloud, making the software available to anyone from their internet browser.
“Our technology allows for 3D models to be edited and adjusted online. SlicerXL is a great example of what our platform has to offer. It showcases the power of cloud-based parametric software”
– Jeroen Coenders, founder of Packhunt.io
Why is it free?
After struggling to generate suitable code with desktop printer software, Vertico decided to organize a Hackathon to create a free open-source slicer for large scale printing in January of 2019. The results are still available for download (link). One of the main contributors was researcher Iman Hadzhivelcheva from Saxion Hogeschool in Enschede. This year the project partners found the opportunity to work together again in creating this evolution of the hackathon results. With the aid of Regieorgaan SIA, Saxion was able to create a slicer suited for the cloud. The projectpartners want to keep feeding the ecosystem and are making a part of their knowledge and experience available for free with this project.
“This project is an excellent example of how industry and academia can work together to develop and disseminate innovation.”
– Iman Hadzhivalcheva, researcher at Saxion Hogeschool
Slicing for beginners
Slicing large geometries can be very challenging. Most, if not all, large-scale printing companies have dedicated print engineers who generate the coordinates and code. All their skills cannot be compressed into one engine, some objects just need more attention than others. The intention of slicerXL is to remove the first hurdle of large-scale printing and as such it is not suited for complex geometries. It is made with beginners in mind and works best on simple objects.
SlicerXL was launched on December 1st 2020 and is already being used. The project partners hope that they can help and inspire creators to enter the market. SlicerXL is and will remain free as long as it lasts, and makers are invited to send in the projects that were created using slicerXL. The use of the platform is based on a Creative Commons 4.0 license, so the project partners only ask that you reference slixerXL.com when publishing projects in order to spread the word!