The speed of the slicer program I use is important to me because I typically go through quite a few iterations of a design before I actually print it. “Quite a few” can mean as many as 10 or even 20 different variations of the part’s geometry before I finalize and print it.
To determine which of my 3 slicers sliced fastest I chose a large complex part to send to each slicer and I timed the results with a digital stopwatch. Here is a photo of the part I used to test with:
This is WiggleLamp4; the STL file is 107.34 MB in size so I did not include it in this blog, but you can download it here: WiggleLamp4. The 3 slicers I tested are Craftware, Plic3r, and Simplify3D. I matched each of the 3 slicer’s parameters as closely as I could and then sliced the STL file measuring the slicing time with a stopwatch. Here are the results:
Craftware: 7.74 seconds
Plic3r: 30.55 seconds
Simplify3D: 25.63 seconds
These times are not surprising to me. Craftware has traditionally been the fastest slicer I’ve tried. To learn more about what was going on with actual CPU processing I sliced WiggleLamp4 again, but this time with Process Monitor running. It shows exactly what each CPU is doing. Here are screenshots of those tests:
Here it is clear that all 8 CPUs are working 100% to slice the file. The separate peaks at the end are the final toolpath display being generated.
Craftware’s usage is the most interesting. The long plateau in CPU6 happens when the Slice dialog is open. Apparently it uses a fair amount of CPU cycles just sitting there not doing anything. The other CPU’s get busy when I hit the Slice button. Note that the slicing completes quite fast and that at no time does any CPU reach 100% busy. Needless to say I have no idea why this happens. But there is clearly something unusual abou thow Craftware slices parts.
Again, all CPUs are busy slicing the part, but after that is done there is a more sporadic use of the CPUs as the final toolpath is generated.
Because of its overall slicing speed, and because Craftware has what I think is the best pre and post slice visualization capabilities, Craftware has been my slicer of choice for a long time. But after discovering Plic3r’s ability to do variable layer heights I have switched to that one as my slicer of choice. You can read all about this on this blog page: Plic3r
My understanding is that the next version of Craftware will incorporate some sort of variable layer height capability, and that it should be released sometime in summer 2017. If this is true I will probably switch back to Craftware because it’s slicing speed is a big deal for me.
Last Update: 26 Apr 2017