Disappointing Symplify 3D

Discussion in 'BigBox General Chat' started by mike01hu, Nov 10, 2015.

  1. mike01hu

    mike01hu Well-Known Member

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    Having just purchased the product as part of my BigBox order I have to say I am disappointed. Since starting 3D printing over two years ago, I have used Slic3r, Cura and Kiss, the former two through Repetier Host, and find that Cura gives consistent results for quick prints and Slic3r and Kiss have excellent configuration capabilities while Repetier has excellent model manipulation tools and excellent graphics. Simplify 3D is a mix of all three but not an adequate one, having less than perfect graphics in the Windows version and somewhat clumsy in its user interface, which is inadequately described. There are some features that are good, such as printer configuration, the multi-tool settings and the on-line diagnostics pages.The major missing items are an inbuilt gcode editor/viewer and the lack of a descriptive manual, the online tutorials are not good enough and lack information; the former means that it misses out on gcode hackability unless a third-party editor is used and the last two hit new users. OK, Slic3r and Cura are not perfect but within Repetier are very usable and do contain descriptive dialogue.

    For new users, this may not be the best product and, for around £100, one would expect a top product but this does not appear to meet that requirement.

    I may be being hard and will persevere with the product's learning curve until I receive my BigBox and will do comparisons when it is complete but getting my money back will, I suspect, be difficult.

    I wonder what other users think who have had time use it?
     
  2. UlrichKliegis

    UlrichKliegis Well-Known Member

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    Mike, I confirm your criticism of S3D completely. I uttered my discomfort with the documentation and the user interface somewhere here before, and I am only glad that I could trade in the second licence (i pledged for two complete Dual-Work-BigBoxes) for some otherwise useful E3D stuff. Thanks to Josh!
    Whereas the BigBox is described as an Open Source project that is obviously hackable (you don't get a warranty for a kit to be assembled by yourself, do you? A clever liablity-avoidance marketing-work-around), S3D looks like a very closed product to me - defined as a black box where the user has no key to the innards. That may be OK for all the people who believe in the advertizing and marketing blahblah today and purchase a 3D printer at the next ElCheapo outlet. Probably, the market is just changing - a small wing will stay with the DIY machines, the other will buy from the chinese mass market. The combination of S3D with this hardware is not the ideal match, I think. At least, all alternatives can be had for free.

    Looking back, if I had had the chance to advise, I would have said, let's bundle an open source software package, deliver it on a CD or make it downloadable, preconfigure it for the BigBox, and find better uses for the supporters' beer vouchers aka £100 notes. Sigh.

    So I hope that the BigBox itself will not need too many optimiziations right from the start. RichRap's magfit extruder mount intrigues me, hope we will learn more about that in time. I know one noise source already - the geared stepper driving one of the axes. For momentum, it would probably have been better to take a motor one size bigger.

    Cheers,
    U.
     
  3. R Design

    R Design Well-Known Member

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    If I understand rightly, there are two criticisms:

    1) not g-code hackable;

    2) poor manual / documentation;

    To me that means that there's one criticism of the product and one of the paperwork.

    So it sounds like a good product!

    However I've never needed to hack g-code. When is it useful to do that?

    Trying to figure out Simplify I have the impression that the best information comes from a guy in the forum who posts "hot tips" or "best practices" from time to time. They should really have a wiki everyone could contribute to? That's open source!
     
  4. mike01hu

    mike01hu Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Ulrich. I had picked up your earlier posts but felt that I needed to voice my concerns. I will wait to pass judgement on the BigBox but, based on Richard's reviews and his work on the technology, I am sure the right choice has been made for my purchase. I am a retired Engineer with a fair bit of design experience and understand the issues the BB team have gone through to get to this stage and would not have backed the project if I was not satisfied with their initial bid.

    It is difficult to make a judgement on the final product as this moment and, although noise is not an issue for me, I did feel that motor power might be a future limiting factor and that drivers that allowed for the possible change could have been included. Cost is a factor, as BB has to see a return on its investment, so it is a wait and see situation.

    Nevertheless, I could well have spent the S3D money on extending the kit to the dual extruder model but the risk was mine even though BB promoted the product. Se la vie!

    All the best
     
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  5. mike01hu

    mike01hu Well-Known Member

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    Hi R,

    I am not saying it's a bad product only that it is incomplete as a "paid-for" tool. It has been around for a while and you should expect something better.

    Gcode hacking is not for everyone but there are times when print behaviour is less than perfect yet the slicer seems to be doing its job but an investigation of the initial code may outline an issue that can be fixed manually. There is also the case when a large complex print fails due to a power glitch and, with some skilful editing of the file, a restart at the break point can be made, as it did for me 19 hours into a 22 hour print. I can live with an external editor but I am not happy at not being in full control of the slicing environment that S3D currently denies me.

    Yes, their forum is good and the tips are fine but that pre-supposes that you are always on line when using it. We can hope for an early update with a detailed downloadable user manual!

    Do persevere with your S3D learning but if you have time, download Repetier Host (its free) and play with that to give yourself another flavour of the 3D printing world.

    All the best.
     
  6. R Design

    R Design Well-Known Member

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    Thanks mike01hu : will look into Repetier with pleasure.

    btw. I got into Simplify a little while back because don't own a 3D printer (yet!) but frequent a Fablab with a variety of machines. You never know which machines will be free when you show up and each machine works optimally with a particular slicer, so I figured out it was great to have a powerful universal slicing tool, to prepare files in advance (at home) with great care, then, if necessary, change the machine profile if the one you were hoping to use was busy. On average this saves loads of time and produces good results with reduced wastage of material and time. I like the fact I only have to learn one set of slicer controls and that the slicing is fast, the visualisation clear etc.. Switching between slicers on the fly can be really a pain when accompanied by major changes like infill style and with a ton of tiny parameters to optimise!
     
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  7. Pierce

    Pierce Well-Known Member

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    Just to add my two pence/cents, I went in knowing S3D was not open source and was very much an optional add on that is not required to operate a big box as they would release the profiles to run on other open source slicers(or the community would take care of it :) ).

    However I do agree that the user interface leaves quite a bit to be desired, but I think this is more than made up in the slicing engine, in the last few prints I have completed the quality does seem to be slightly better and the movement code seems to suffer from less "random movements" than slic3r or CURA which slowed down the print. Also the last few prints I have done with supports enabled have come off super easily, much better than anything I have used before.

    So do I like it, yes, is it value for money... Still not fully convinced but getting there.
     
  8. mike01hu

    mike01hu Well-Known Member

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    I have spent today reconfiguring S3D and printing my standard test piece in white PLA, my nemesis filament(!); this one filament causes me more trouble than any other PLA colour and, if I get this to work, all other filaments will be easy . . . I hope! This particular reel produced in Netherlands for FilaPrint (UK) is dimensionally poor(very oval) but is consistent over the length. So far, I have produced many prints but overlap is non-existent set to 15%, also the top and bottom fill is less than perfect. Sidewall definition is good with very slight ringing that may be due to print speed. Extrusion width is set to auto as setting it to nozzle width gives totally delaminated side walls and holes; first layer width has been set to 80% to try and get a full bottom layer and overlap to 33% but these still produce results that need to improve; 50% overlap is too much as it causes problems with the sidewall definition. Dimensional accuracy is very good with the usual issue of being undersize for internal diameters but that's the same for most slicers. Another frustration is the lack of nozzle priming and putting that in the gcode script is too early as the script is run before heating takes place.

    Cura outperforms S3D every time and works with the basic default settings; the same settings in S3D produces failures. OK, my old K8200, with a 0.5mm nozzle and 3mm filament, is getting past it but I have used it for several hundred jobs, and still do, and no slicer has given me the same problems for as long as this or the failures.

    It is now almost 1am and bed calls, so I will return to the beast in the morning to try one more trick. I'll also do a black PLA print just to cheer myself up! I will say one thing though and that is I am getting to know the workings of S3D!!!o_O

    Mike
     
  9. Pierce

    Pierce Well-Known Member

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    I hate white filament, it always looks the worse no matter how good it actually comes out! I say try a black print just to cheer yourself up anyway :) nothing worse than being frustrated with the printer, many a week or month I have just ignored my printer because of some hurdle or frustration.

    I changed nozzle from auto to .4 but also changed the extrusion multiple from .9 to 1 and that fixed my most obvious issues.

    What's the issue with nozzle priming? Mine heats up then does two laps around the perimeter and that seems to get it going well so not come across that issue, but I did have to add some gcode to the Shutdown to move the nozzle out the way and I just stole that code right out of cura :)
     
  10. Kanedias

    Kanedias Well-Known Member

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    If you're not happy with S3D email them and ask for a refund.
     
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  11. mike01hu

    mike01hu Well-Known Member

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    Well, a good sleep and a fresh mind has seen some results. The primary issue has been print speed and reducing this by a factor of three(!) from the S3D default for my printer has seen the prints improve dramatically; changing the speed in real time did not show this but changing it in the settings did! I went back to the Cura settings to try again and the results were almost as good and a few more tweaks with speed and setting the extruder to fixed at 0.5 the results were generally good.

    Although there is a setting for using only perimeters for thin walls, with this turned off on the wide walls of my test piece (2mm) the slicer transitions from perimeter lines to 2 lines with filling between when the model changes from base layers to walls; this causes a discontinuity in the vertical definition due to the fill effect partly re-melting the perimeters, something that Cura does not do. I suspect that some of this is due to the lack of effective speed control when low duration layers are encountered and, more importantly, ensuring that the start point for the next extrusion is not over or next to the most recent one; another thing that other slicers I use do not do.

    It seems that speed control for starting short tracks (corner areas) is non-existent (typical in other slicers, particularly Slic3r but less so in Cura); what happens is that when there is an extruder transition to start a fill there is usually a retraction for that move and the feed rate at the fill start is not adequate and/or the speed is too high so that the extrusion is less stable and gapping appears. I have experimented with Slic3r to drastically slow the print manually just prior to such a situation and the problem virtually disappears. Low infill speed (30%) does help but the print time extends substantially; a bit of smart programming to ensure that fills start at longer runs may resolve this.

    How much of these issues are due to my kit, I am not sure but I do want consistence and accuracy with a good finish for my prints, so hurry up BB and let us get working with your kit.

    I have uploaded the test piece for anyone that wants to see what I use and try it themselves. I use it for perimeter, wall thickness and hole dimension accuracy as well as overall dimensions. The sizes are 20mm wide by 50mm long and 5mm high; all walls, including base thickness, are 2mm and the hole is 10mm. With 4 top and bottom layers and a 30% fill the model uses about 400mm of 3mm filament. Honeycomb fill shows bridging performance better than rectilinear. S3D and Slic3r both provide this feature.

    On the issue of the lack of nozzle priming, I do increase the number of border perimeters to try to get the filament flowing but for prints that reach the extreme of the bed it is not always possible to lay down these tracks; a better way is to have a setting to determine how much filament is extruded during the border creation. Unfortunately, I do produce some very large area prints around 200mm long/wide so nozzle priming is necessary; BB will allow these larger prints but I will then make bigger ones!!

    I have yet to see where the additional scripts fit into the gcode and whether they replace the default script that S3D put in. If it does then I can easily put in a script to deal with some issues and, if it does not, that is where a built-in editor like in Repetier Host would be invaluable.

    Well that's it for my long (sorry) rant on this issue but I will return later if necessary. I will still persevere with S3D to get into the other settings that I have yet to investigate. I hope that S3D take on board some of the missing elements that do appear in the free products, tidy up the user interface and provide a user manual. I should also say that I do contribute to the free products to ensure continued development and consider that paying for S3D is an advance contribution to their continuing development!

    Mike.
     

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    #11 mike01hu, Nov 12, 2015
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  12. thingster

    thingster Active Member

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    Guys I want to thank you for sharing your experiences with Simplify3D. I'm a long time user of Cura, KISSlicer, and Repetier Host, and very happy with them, so I wondered if I need S3D at all and if it makes that much of a difference in means of print quality. Guess now it's clear and I won't need to purchase a copy. :)
     
  13. mike01hu

    mike01hu Well-Known Member

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    I am not saying it's bad but you may want to continue with your current processes until you get your BigBox and think about it then. I have come to grips with S3D (almost) but it lacks some of the flexibility of your apps. I will refresh this thread at a later date after I get my printer and do some serious tests.

    Mike
     
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  14. Sanjay

    Sanjay Administrator
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    I'm super busy, but have been watching this thread with interest.

    Personally, I prefer the way S3D handles the GUI in most ways above Cura and Slic3r. I find the way that models can be arranged plated and duplicated etc to be much more powerful and productive. I guess this is a matter of personal taste, and I do understand that it's a bit more involved than Cura for example, but offers more powerful productive tools. I would regard S3D as something for more pro-sumer level people who really need to get stuff done with their machine.

    Aside from the GUI, there are two HUGE factors for me that make S3D pretty much my go-to slicer for any and all prints:
    • Dimensions - I find prints from S3D are significantly more accurate in their printed dimensions. Particularly hole sizes and internal dimensions. Cura and Slic3r have long had issues with holes being undersized and other dimensional issues resulting from miscalculation of the way filament is laid down on external perimeters. S3D prints much closer to modelled dimensions and I no longer have to have large amounts of 'fudge' clearance in my CAD models to compensate.
    • Support - S3D has what I am quite sure is the best support material generation algorithms and control of any slicer out there. The supports and rafts come away from prints easily and more cleanly than in any other slicer I have used. Additionally the ability to position, add and remove supports in the plating interface is an absolutely killer feature that is seriously useful for complex models that use support material. Additionally for printing support dual material support systems such as Scaffold I have not found anything better than S3D, there is a great deal of scope for getting very good soluble material support generation, with great interface layers etc that is very helpful.
    For me, dimensions and support material are the killer features of S3D. Along with fast slicing, great previewing, and generally producing sane efficient GCODE first time.

    mike01hu - I think most of what you're seeing is configuration issues and it sounds like you're making headway with getting things set up with S3D. We'll be providing full configs for BigBox for S3D (and other slicers too), and I really think that you should give it a go when you have a bigbox in hand.

    If I didn't really really like it, I wouldn't be peddling a closed source slicer at extra cost, we don't really make much in the way of commission from S3D. We just really think it's the best option out there for getting serious work done. It's how we're printing bigbox after all!

    Sanjay
     
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  15. mike01hu

    mike01hu Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Sanjay for your response and it is much appreciated with your tight schedule. I take on board what you are saying but I do not fully agree that S3D performs as you say. Internal dimensions are no better than Slic3r or Cura, and circular internal dims are difficult to maintain accurately over the full range of diameters due to the usual issues that this technology presents, yet linear dimensions are excellent; for internal circular features I see no adjustment to the gcode in S3D to amend x/y movements as diameters shorten, to compensate for filament drag on direction change as circles are formed. Secondly, there are particular problems with ooze control on travel with perimeter starts and control of perimeter-fills that require deeper knowledge of the package to overcome, so this does need attention to meet engineering needs; these may not be such an issue for artistic and craft based projects. I suspect that travel retraction is going to need careful control but I have yet to investigate the additional options, if there are any. All of my work is for engineering projects and I expect better than I get with S3D at the moment.

    You will have noted that my nemesis filament is white PLA, having not had much success with this at any time, each reel requiring substantial reconfiguring, so my comments are mainly about the performance with this filament but not exclusively. I know that this is due in part to my printer and consistency is what I need. I suspect that more exotic filaments will be better suited to my needs but these are outside my printers capabilities. Practice with S3D has not improved my issues and have produced less than favourable results compared with other slicers. Other colours that I use are much better, with black being particularly good as I am sure you know.

    You are right that more experience is needed with the package, so I and many users will be very much dependent on your ability to provide good profiles to match common filaments but I acknowledge that this so much depends on what and whose filaments are used. A good starting point is needed, which I am sure you will provide. Better than that is my expectation that the BigBox is going to fulfil my exacting needs irrespective of the slicer. I can work around most slicer performance issues in my designs but I want the confidence that a better designed machine will give.

    For many people there is going to be a steep leaning curve and there is no doubt that the good support elements of S3D are going to be needed, except for the lack of a manual, but for the printer I am sure that you will offer the same quality of support that E3D users have experienced in the past. Keep up the good work!

    Mike
     
  16. UlrichKliegis

    UlrichKliegis Well-Known Member

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    The good news is that we have a choice. As Sanjay put it, and it matches my view of S3D that I expressed somewhere here, S3D should probably be seen as a closed package that wraps a number of features that are openly available from other sources, combined with a special slicing engine that also seems to have its, well, properties, good ones and the other. There would be no bad thing without the good ones.

    Compare that to the development of the home-PCs. Those who soldered their first 8080 or Z80 based machines themselves were the forerunners, today, you get highly complex technology at the discounter round the corner.
    I wonder how many printers collect dust already after the first test prints done, the first roll of filament being used up, blocked nozzles preventing any further fun. Reminds me of my first Epson color printer...

    Mike, you mention the steep lea(r)ning curve! Mind you, a steep learning curve means a large knowledge gain over short time. The height to be reached, though, is the goal - or do I misinterpret as a non-native english speaker the term steep? :)

    The latest slic3r has shown again what progress means. Although they took out my much-appreciated favourite feature, the antivibration parameter (but missed to purge that from the setup), it has changed the way my printer moves around considerably - to the better side. And you have access to virtually every bit of the controller - if you are able to make use of it. Here, we live in a bifold environment, presently. I acknowledge the necessity for black box products for the sell-and-forget shelves, but I am happy to have learned enough in the past 6 decades to be able to tweak that little blob on the corner of the good-for-nothing gadget that I'll build next from the kit that I work with ... :)

    Re: elliptical filaments. Most of them are, and the circle is just a special case of an ellipse... If you want to be super-precise, measure the two main diameters, calculate the cross sectional area, and recalculate a virtual filament diameter. That's the closest you can get to let any slicer know the extruded volume. Assuming it is an ellipse. It will probably be not.

    Cheers,
    U.
     
  17. mike01hu

    mike01hu Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your support Ulrich and your English is excellent, it's better than mine!!! Yes, as you say, "steep learning (with the 'r') curve" does refer to having to come to grips with a topic to produce acceptable results in a short period of time.

    Like you, I have a 6 decades of experience having started with SC/MP (4-bit) and 2650 microprocessors and a wealth of experience in mechanical and electronic Engineering. Low cost 3D printing is a real advance in the production world and I hope that those who use them do get beyond the first reel of filament by looking at real-world projects to extend their repertoire. I have built a 14" diameter astronomical telescope, with over 100 printed parts, and various complex items to support other interests as well as items for use in products that are made by a local company.

    I always do the elliptical measurement and calculations to try to get a better filament size but the deformation is due to the winding of the filament onto the reel during manufacture and in this process the filament is still quite warm, so as it curls around the reel it slightly flattens to a non-circular form; this form is not a true ellipse and is more like a flattened circle. Also, the deformity changes as the spool diameter increases and this becomes more of a problem on very large print jobs where a large proportion of the reel is used. I suspect that it is less of an issue with 1.75mm filament but I have no experience with this.

    I think I've exhausted this thread so will only return to it when the BigBox arrives but feel free to PM me if you want to.

    Happy printing,

    Mike
     
  18. elmuchacho

    elmuchacho Member

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    At first I was also really unimpressed with S3D as I did get it early on at the time there was poor multi-colour support, only one infill pattern, support everywhere. Over the years now the improvement have been really nice and bugs have slowly disappeared. Personally the hardest part was to remember the keyboard shortcut to manipulate and scale the object now there is an additional panel that open when you double click on the object make things much easier.

    I agree with Sanjay S3D is much better at printing dimensionally correct part in comparison to other slicer on the same printer.

    Other feature that I think are great
    - The ability to create multiple process for different part of the file without limitation.
    - I think everyone agree that the support featured are unmatched by any other slicer.
    - The customization of retraction settings (however I wishes they will all be on the same panel).
    - Saving of factory file that save support structure without fusing them to the stl.
    - Switching between machine settings and associating machine setting to slicing process.
    - Finally but probably not last the machine control panel who is probably as good as standalone.

    The only "few" problem I might have with it is that on my bowden setup my motor stall on retract and it seems changing the "Retraction Speed" do not help. It most likely something in the settings that I have not found out yet. Than I aften switched back to Cura and Slic3r for the Bowden machine. Oh and for some reason when you unselect an object and it get hidden somehow S3D still take that object in consideration when positioning the part on the bed.

    The thing I miss the most is direct upload to octoprint as implemented in the latest slic3r version :) I just wishes this features will be implemented soon.
     
  19. K3LAG

    K3LAG Active Member

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    I've been using S3D since I got my license a month or so ago, and I have a few things to add...

    As a Mac user, Repetier Host, is woefully out of date and buggy. As well as missing a lot of features that are available in the other versions. While I can get good prints out of it by tweaking Slic3r settings, it's just not worth the trouble given all the other problems.

    Cura on the Mac works pretty well although I don't care for some of the motions it makes moving across from one point to another on a model. I can get good prints out of it as well and the UI is certainly more up to date. I have not used the machine control in it since I just transfer the gcode files over my network to an octoprint server.

    My first attempt using S3D was frustrating. I ended up with hollow weak walls because the wall thickness was such that it wouldn't infill between the inner and outer perimeters. Since I have gotten the basic tuning done regarding filament size, first layer widths and a few other things, I have found S3D to print quite well. There are a few things about the UI that I think could be better, but they are minor. I'll get rid of my K8200 when my BigBox arrives, so I haven't spent a ton of time tweaking it, but I am convinced that I could ultimately get my best prints out of S3D compared to the others given my skill level and patience.

    I'm currently printing on a K8200 with a E3D v6 hot end, a 24v heatbed, upgraded power supplies and an OctoPi server.
     
  20. mike01hu

    mike01hu Well-Known Member

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    I was not going to revisit this thread until the BigBox arrived but I have looked at what others have been saying and some more points need addressing.

    1. Machine control is not adequate as there are differences in positional accuracy in the infill process that is not there with other slicers despite setting larger than necessary infill overlap. For instance, if a square section is defined with a 30% infill the infill appears to overlap one side but less so on the other thus causing perimeter from infill delamination. I have had two major failures of parts due to this, even though the outer finish looked good.

    2. The graphical preview interface does not display the tool path properly, as it does not appear to show the infill overlap.

    I suggest that anyone tries the simple test that I did and that was to slice my test piece with both S3D and Cura with a 30% infill overlap. For the S3D part I used the S3D previewer to zoom into the infill/perimeter area and could observe no overlap anywhere near 30%, if at all. When the same gcode was loaded into Repetier Host, its viewer also showed little or no overlap; the same item sliced by Cura with the same overlap showed that overlap in Repetier Host, i.e. the true tool path.

    Printing both samples produced the results as viewed in Repetier Host, i.e. poor infill overlap from the S3D part and proper overlap with Cura. Worse than this, the S3D part, when viewed with Repetier, showed a gap between the two inner perimeter walls, and this is what appeared in the print and caused delamination. This does not happen with Cura! S3D needs some serious work in both tool path interpretation and infill performance to be a good slicer.

    OK, S3D has lots of adjustments to fudge the issues but that is not the answer for reliable and repeatable work. Infill is a noted problem with S3D but there seems to be no acknowledgement from the team that I have seen. I stand to be corrected.

    I have also used a professional 3D printing package within SolidWorks 2016 and this produces very reliable results although not much better than Cura but SW is a GBP3000+ package!!!

    Mike
     
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