The Very Basics of PrusaSlicer

Cura is the friendly face of slicing software that needs no introduction in the Maker community, and although it might be the only slicer you will ever need, it is not the only slicer available. PrusaSlicer is another notable slicer that is rapidly growing in popularity. By writing this blog, we hope to help new curious Makers understand the very basics of PrusaSlicer and what it offers so that you have all the resources you need when choosing your slicer software.

The reason we chose PrusaSlicer is due to it being free, having a passionate community, receiving frequent updates, boasting powerful features, and starting to integrate resin slicing. PrusaSlicer can help you get printing with minimal effort. While PrusaSlicer has started to include resin slicing you may still need to use dedicated slicers such as Lychee or Chitubox

What is a 3D Printing Slicer?

While we have explained what a slicer is in The Very Basics of Cura post we want to explain it again for new readers. The process of FDM 3D Printing involves placing layers of melted plastic on top of each other to form the model. For this to happen the 3D Printer needs to know all the information relating to each layer of the print. A slicer is software that takes your 3D model, allows you to adjust various settings, and then converts it to a gcode file that contains all the information your printer needs to produce the model. Learning to properly use a slicer can mean the difference between a successful print and a pile of spaghetti.

So now that we have explained what a slicer is be sure to download PrusaSlicer before you continue.

Please Note: For the purpose of this post, we will be using PrusaSlicer 2.4.2 running on a Windows 10 PC.


Getting Started

For this post we will have the user interface set to simple. If PrusaSlicer is not in simple mode, then please select it by clicking the simple tab on the top right.

This will give you access to the most minimal settings you need to get printing. This is a good starting point for new Makers. Towards the end of the blog, I will go into a certain settings in a bit more depth as they can also be useful for new Makers.


Selecting The Correct Settings

The first step when setting up a slicer is to select what filament and printer you will be using. PrusaSlicer has an ever-expanding range of premade filament and printer profiles so there is a chance you won’t have to setup your own custom profile. When you do have to setup a custom printer it is a very simple process.

1. Resolution:
Determines the height of each layer that is laid down during printing. PrusaSlicer comes with a variety of presets sizes. For beginners we recommend using 0.16mm or 0.2mm as these will produce really nice results. Once you have had done some printing then you can play around with the other presets.

2. Filament:
This dropdown might have a variety of popular filament types already loaded. There are generic profiles if you can’t find your brand or don’t want to manually add it. Clicking Add/Remove Filament will open a window that will allow you to select your specific filament if a premade profile has been made. For new Makers we recommend using PLA filament.

3. 3D Printer:
Similar to the filament there might be a few premade profiles already loaded for printers. To add more printers you need to click Add/Remove Printers in the dropdown menu followed by Add/Remove Presets. This will open a new window where you can select a wider range of premade printer profiles. To add a new printer simply select Other Venders, tick the brand you want, and a new submenu should appear beneath Other Vendors. Select what model you have and click finish to load the profile. To add a custom printer you need to select Custom printer, tick define a custom printer profile, and add your printers name. Then fill in the information for the submenus and click finish to load the profile.

4. Supports:
This allows you to specify whether you want a support structure to be generated for your print. This structure can help you with prints that have overhangs and gaps.

5. Infill:
Infill is the internal structure of a model. Higher percentage increases the density of the structure while lower percentages reduce the density.

6. Brim:
A bed adhesion setting that will add a layer of filament around the base of the model to increase the adhesion area. This will help with prints that only have a small surface area in contact with the build surface.


Top Menu Bar

Now that we have added a printer and selected the filament we need to load a model. You can do this through the File menu, but PrusaSlice includes a nice menu that has options for adding and deleting models. The bar also includes other useful settings/functions that you might not find on other slicers.

1. Add model :
Allows you to load a model.
2. Delete model:
Allows you to delete specific models.
3. Delete all models:
Deletes all loaded models.
4. Arrange models:
Arranges models on bed with suitable spacing.
5. Copy:
Copy the selected model.
6. Paste:
Paste the model you have copied.
7. Split to object:
Creates an individual object for each shell.
8. Split to part:
Keeps a single model object but you can individually select parts.
9. Search:
Search for settings.
10. Variable layer height:
PrusaSlicer will slice the file with a varied layer height depending on what is needed for different areas of the model.
11. Undo:
Undo the previous actions.
12. Redo:
Redo an action you have undone.

We recommend the popular Benchy model for new Makers as it is a fun way to test your printer. Now you have loaded a model we can look at the Side Bar Menu and how we can use it to adjust the settings of the model.


Side Menu Bar

Once you have a model loaded and selected you will be able to make use of the side menu. This menu is very similar to the menu you will find in Cura but with a few different settings. Settings like Paint on Supports and Seam Painting really give you better control over your model. Now is your chance to move or scale the model you have loaded.

1. Move
2. Scale
3. Rotate
4. Place on face:
Allows you to select which part of the model flat is placed flat on the build surface.
5. Cut:
Allows you to cut the model along the Z-Axis.
6. Paint on supports:
Allows you to paint on the supports of a model. This allows you to be very specific with supports.
7. Seam painting:
Allows you to paint on the seam. This is the start/stop point of each layer. This allows you to specify where you would like the seam to be.


Time to Slice!

Once you have adjusted the model to your liking it is time to slice!

This can be done in 2 different ways with PrusaSlicer. You can click the Slice button in the bottom right or you can use the Preview icon in the bottom left. Both will slice the model so it is ready to print.

PrusaSlicer goes beyond the simple filament usage estimates you will get when you slice with Cura and in the top left you will get a box that provides a detailed breakdown on how the filament will be used. This allows you to see if you can save filament and print time by reducing certain settings.


Other Settings

PrusaSlicer can get far more in-depth than the settings we discussed in this post. So, if you are looking for more control over your print then be sure to check out the following. These menus are still limited due to being in Simple mode and if you are unsure then hovering over the setting name will likely offer a brief explanation on what it does.

1. Print Settings:
Here you will find the settings for Layers and perimeters, Infill, Skirt and Brim, and Support material.

Layer and perimeters:
The important settings to notice here are layer height, vertical shells, and horizontal shells.
Infill:
Allows you to control the internal structure of the print including the shape and density of the structure.
Skirt and Brim:
Skirt is an aid designed to help purge the nozzle and also to help you check that your bed is level. Brim is a bed adhesion aid that provides more contact between print and build surface if the model is small or has limited contact.
Support material:
In Simple mode this will allow you to add support structures to your print. These will allow you to print models that have gaps and overhangs that the printer wouldn’t normally be able to print.

2. Filament Settings:
This menu contains Filament, Cooling, and Filament Overrides. But for new Makers the setting you will be most likely to use is the Temperature setting under Filament. This allows you to adjust the nozzle and bed temperature to meet the requirements of the filament you are using.


Conclusion

There’s no doubt that PrusaSlicer is an incredibly powerful slicer for 3D Printing. In my opinion, PrusaSlicer’s interface is not as straightforward as Cura’s, especially for new Makers. But we hope this post has helped you get a better understanding of the very basics. With this foundation, you should be well on your way to opening the wonderful world of 3D Printing with PrusaSlicer. If you have questions we have a great Discord community who will be happy to offer advice. To see how PrusaSlicer compares to Cura then be sure to check our Cura vs PrusaSlicer post.

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