Anyone who has worked or works with 3D printers knows how important Slicer software is. If someone creates an STL design file for their 3D printer to model, the printer needs a set of clear-cut instructions to fabricate the model precisely. Slicer software performs this job. The Slicer software will take this STL file and generate a G-code (geometric code) for the 3D printer to interpret and process.
There are many slicing software used by users across the world today. Some are open-source, and others offer additional advanced features for a premium subscription.
Cura, PrusaSlicer, Slic3r, etc. are some free open-source software tools. These software tools have amassed a loyal league of users over the years. They offer some exceptional features to their novice and professional clientele. Even within India, they have a wide base of users. Most Indian 3D printer manufacturers and 3D printing service providers thrive on such slicing software.
So the question arises — if such software already exists, …
Why did we create our own Slicing Engine at Fabheads?
We, at Fabheads, seek to continually optimize our approach to 3D printing and its corresponding facilities. Through this, we endeavor to develop a more cohesive 3D Printing unit. Let’s walk through the reasons behind our decision to develop C6.
C6 is not just an Engine, we have developed a full Slicer platform. The term Engine not only signifies the backend processing components but also the UI platform, as well as features other than the Slicer engine.
To make a universal software that can process multiple materials
In our latest venture, we have diversified our range of products into two series of 3D printers — F series and G series.
We built our F series to support and comply with MTP (Miniaturised Tow Placement) technology, proprietary to Fabheads. These machines can print high-quality materials like Continuous Fiber composites. However, printing these high-performance materials requires special slicer settings and advanced instruction sets. Typical slicers do not offer such features in the market today. So in our quest to provide optimum functionality with our 3D printers, we had to develop our own Slicing engine to provide our clients a user-friendly environment to extract the maximum out of our machines.
Since we were already developing one, we wanted to offer our clients more freedom to handle multiple materials. Hence, we decided to expand and make a universal software that can support our G series (FDM Printers) as well as other 3D printers out there.
To offer easier user and project management
Most other slicers offer limited provisions for project handling. They only allow the slicer to slice one file and finish. Being a product development company ourselves and having multiple in-house teams who use 3D printing on a daily basis for both R&D and production use cases, we understand how important this feature is! So we have added a project management feature where all your sliced files can be saved to be accessed later.
In future versions, we are also planning to add user management features where the admin of an organization can assign distinct features of the software to different users. For multifaceted enterprises, delegating the workload becomes simpler using this feature and also provides the managers with a single dashboard where they can review the overall status of multiple machines and take quick actions accordingly.
To offer a comprehensive range of features
There were also various secondary reasons that influenced us to develop our own slicer engine. One was bridging the gap between features offered by open source and proprietary software. Open source has certain commendable features that are sometimes not serviced by proprietary ones and vice versa. This inspired a need to offer a holistic panel of features to our customer base and make a more enterprise-based version.
To make slicing software accessible to a larger audience
India supports a diverse spectrum of industries — small and large scale. These small-scale industries are run and maintained by tinier state-wise units. The workforce operating these units sometimes struggles with the language settings offered by international slicer software. To make slicing software more accessible to our local audience, we wanted to provide software that can support regional languages as well. This way, 3D printing technology can be adopted on a larger scale by such small units as well.
All these ideas sparked a genuine desire to advance our existing 3D printing technology to the next level. So after months of rigorous designing and testing, we developed India’s first indigenous Browser-based Cloud-powered Slicing Engine for 3D Printers — the C6 Engine.
Why a web app?
The very first thing to notice is that C6 is a web-based Slicer, with the C6 engine as its core. You can access the Slicer just like any other web app like Facebook, Gmail, etc, and the Slicing engine sits in a cloud server, processing your files and generating g-codes for you.
We developed C6 as a browser-based app because:
- It is compatible with most operating systems. The app just requires a browser on any operating system to run.
- Updates are constantly pushed to the app. So users do not need to update or re-download from their end. This ensures the latest features to our clients with zero delays.
- The engine and user files are all stored in secure cloud storage, so they can be accessed by users later.
- Because of the browser-based nature of C6, future versions of C6 can be accessible on Smartphones as well with limited capability. Users will manage their files and monitor their prints remotely.
C6 Engine — Features
We have designed the C6 Engine keeping in mind the needs and demands of different industrial sectors. As mentioned earlier, we are the first enterprise in India to launch something of this scale in the market. So we have carefully designed a console of features to optimally serve the needs of our Indian clients. Not only does this software support our own FabMachines, but it can also support third-party 3D printers.
Our slicing platform offers a wide range of functionality, measuring up to its international counterparts.
We know that a desktop app may be slightly faster than a browser-based one, but the advantages we discussed in the previous section override the slight delay posed by a web app.
Other differences include the ability to keep a history of the prints, and that it is Cloud-based. Our STL import speed is also considerably faster and depends on the complexity and size of the STL file. Other than that, our slicing platform is compatible with major operating systems such as Windows and MAC and only requires an active internet connection.
The beta version can import STL files and export G-Codes. But future versions will possess the ability to import .obj, .STP, and .3mf file formats as well.
Here are some major benefits/features that our slicing platform provides —
- The ability to access files anytime and anywhere since it is a browser-based app. So you can access the app from any computer with just your login credentials.
- The ability to configure your settings based on your regional language
- Easy management of projects with other team members and ease of collaboration
- Real-time updates and without the need of installing additional packages
- Cross-platform compatible (can be accessed on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge)
- The ability to save all your sliced and non-sliced parts project-wise
- The ability to support multiple materials and server-side computation
- Realistic simulations like the playback feature which shows how lines are printing in a particular layer and the number of layers
- The ability to access or store jobs easily
- The ability to customize or set pre-defined settings for each machine
- The option to operate the software in either light mode or dark mode
Our C6 Engine is extremely user-friendly. It provides ease of use to beginners and has significant features for professionals. Also, we are setting up online resources for anyone, starting from scratch, to learn quickly and for a beginner to learn the advanced features systematically.
Different user modes of C6
There are two modes — one is basic, and the other is Fiber.
It provides all the standard features like material selection, infill type, infill density, and nozzle diameter. We have also provided tooltips to provide help regarding different settings.
An important feature of advanced mode is that it is compatible with Continuous Fibre Printing. As mentioned previously, this is a feature that is not available in most slicers. The C6 provides excellent features and settings for working with Continuous Fiber Composites. Some of the functionality includes the ability to change the number of walls, extrusion parameters like flow, print speed, wall speed, control over material temperature, and it also supports retraction, fiber routing options for continuous fiber prints.
Other than this, it supports most of the slicing parameters such as —
- The ability to drag and drop, rotate and scale STL files.
- Control over layer heights, supports, temperature, infill, and much more…
- Control of speed over the walls, first layer, supports, top and bottom layer.
- Supports 5 different infill patterns — Honeycomb, Grid, Rectilinear, Aligned Rectilinear, concentric.
- Control of infill angles, infill orders, and much more…
- Customization of line width and flow multiplier.
- Easy breakaway support features for overhanging parts.
- Multi-file slicing.
- Saving the job/order of a particular file.
- Estimates printing time and total number of layers.
- Renders toolpath simulation of G-code layer by layer and line by line.
- Custom G-code save — You can save a G-code for a range of layers.
- Ability to preview G-code from all other popular slicers.
The below features will not be made available on the day of the beta launch but will be made available in the coming weeks.
- Third-party printer management — C6 will have a list of default third-party 3D printers (other than Fabheads) with default settings. Users can just select the printer based on their requirements and they will get suitable print settings for the best print on that printer.
- 2-part slicing — When you want to print part of the object in plastic, and part of it in Fiber.
- Dual nozzle slicing
- Print monitoring
— Serial/USB Print monitoring
— Web-cam based monitoring
These are only a few of the features we offer. There are over 40 unique settings in the Slicing platform to explore and experiment with. We will provide regular updates to optimize the software for our users.
If you wish to learn more details on the C6 Engine’s capabilities, features, and access, please visit our C6 website and register with us. We’ll send all the information right to your email.
You can also register for our beta access using this link. Once your request is submitted, we will include your email in our beta testers list. When C6 Slicing gets beta launched, we will send you an invitation to try out our Slicing platform, for FREE!
If you have questions or doubts, comment on them down below!