As we entered the 3D printing world we quickly found this big question: Which 3D modeling program should I use? The question is interesting because each software has aspects that make it particular. There are things that one can do with one that the others can´t do and viceversa. There are also things that all of them can do but in a different way.
In this article, we will look at the differences and similarities between the Simplify3D (S3D) and the Cura program. In other articles, we will make comparisons with other programs such as the Slic3r or Tinkercad.
Cura and Simplify3D (S3D) differences
Free Open Source download
Cura software is free and Open Source, which is a huge advantage over S3D. The people of Simplify3D have decided that you should buy it, even without trying it before with a trial version. This is a negative point for Simplify3D from my point of view.
Being Open Source, developers of 3D printers can choose to download it and use it to create their own segmented programs from Cura.
The fact of being free, allows us all to start in the world of 3D modeling and 3D printing in general without having to spend money on the program.
We already said that Cura is free. Simplify3D has a cost of $149, at the time of writing this article. I must clarify that the Cura does not stop being very powerful because it is free, although we will see later that there are areas where it should improve a lot.
On the other hand, being paid, the Simplify3D will be a software that will grow faster with new advanced features such as creating profiles and processes.
Cura 3D belongs to the company Ultimaker, who make very good 3D Open Source printers and offer the software so that everyone can use them with their printers. The fact is that all Open Source 3D printers can use Cura, which is why it is so famous in the 3D market.
Simplify3D belongs to the company Simplify3D Software, which are exclusively dedicated to develop and market this software. This can ensure that the software is of better quality and more advanced because it is a company that lives from the sale of said program.
One of the great advantages of Simplify3D is that it allows you to make modifications and adaptations in each layer, with which you can take care of the smallest details of the piece. In spite of the advances of Cura, it has not yet developed this capacity for modifications at the level of each individual layer.
S3D allows obtaining pieces with more careful and fine results than those developed with Cura. However, the results of Cura do not stop being good and suitable for different types of personal and even commercial projects.
Simplify3D has an advantage over Cura in terms of the ability to create customizable support structures. This functionality of S3D also allows you to create supports automatically with a simple click on the created model. 3D Healing must go a long way to improve this feature.
When creating the piece on the supports in S3D, removing these supports is very simple and the edges of the pieces always remain smooth without scars. In Cura, after taking hours to create the supports, when printing you realize that there are imperfections on the edges. In addition, it is very difficult to remove the supports.
In this aspect, S3D is faster than Cura. Cura usually takes twice as long to process the segmented layers and can cause a computer with few resources to crash and need to restart Cura and restart the work.
Ease of configuration
Cura 3D has the great advantage of being very easy to configure and use. The developers have invested a lot of time in getting any newbie in 3D printing to make few adjustments and start printing in a short time.
Simplify3D is a more advanced software and requires some experience in 3D design to be able to make the settings correctly. It is not a software that you can start, make few configuration clicks and start printing.
S3D supports the creation of customized settings profiles for each type of 3D printer and types of filaments, etc., while Cura does not allow saving these configuration settings. The best thing is that from S3D you can import and export those configurations to use them from any computer with the installed software.
Remember that, although there are useful initial configurations, the best is to always make your own configurations of the layer height, the walls thickness, type and fill of the pattern, densities, temperature of the hot bed, acceleration, type of support used, form of adhesion to the plate, operation of the refrigeration.
Similarities between Simplify3D and Cura
Both applications are 3D modeling programs and Slicers, therefore, the general functions of importing predesigned 3D models, modifying dimensions in the 3 axes, adapting layer sizes, etc. are supported.
The difference lies in the additional advanced functionalities that each one offers and in the way how to execute these functionalities within each interface.
Supported format types
Both programs allow working with the most popular standard formats: .stl. .obj and .3mf. S3D allows you to export to .x3g format, which is used by the 3D Replicator series of printers. Cura requires an additional extension to support this form .x3g.
You can download your .stl models from any platform like thingiverse and upload them in any of the 2 programs to make your edits.
Both programs also allow you to convert your already created 3D models to gcode so that you can load them in the 3D printer.
Supported 3D printers types
Both programs support working with multiple 3D printers of all types and different brands such as ANET, BQ, Ultimaker, etc. They also support Prusa i3 Open Source printers or closed source printers.
The printing virtual simulation is a useful functionality to observe the development of the object before spending material. Both programs have this function.
Supported filaments types
In general, both programs allow you to make the configurations of almost all types of filaments on the market, from the most common such as PLA, ABS to the less as TPU or innoflex 60.
I must say that, in general, both programs get updates at a similar rate. It does not mean that they update as fast as they should. In fact, it is a pity that they take so long to get an update (approximately 1 year between versions).
Cura 3D and S3D are two of the most popular Slicers programs on the market and have a large community of people who have done their tests and configurations for different types of materials and different 3D objects.
Final opinion about both 3D programs
If you are new to the world of 3D printing, it is best to start with the Cura software so that you become familiar with 3D modeling. Practice, practice and practice. There is a great community behind which has already gone through what you have gone through and will surely have solved any problem that comes your way.
If you already have experience and want to try more complex configurations, you can acquire the Simplify3D and try a new experience of details and quality of impressions. If you do not want to pay and you are not demanding with the details or perfectionist, Cura will be more than enough for your prototypes.
Is Simplify3D or Cura better for Ender 3?
Both programs can be used as a slicer of the 3D Ender 3 printer, taking into account the advantages and disadvantages already indicated in this comparison. It is up to you to choose the best host for your 3D Creality Ender 3 printer.