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Getting Started with 3D-Printing

It Is Now Time to Preview Your Print

We'll get into specific slicer software in other guides, but the concept of Preview applies regardless of the software you use.

Once you've set all the settings of your print, you will not want to 'just send it' to the printer -- you will want to preview the print!

Somewhere in the slicer software will be a 'preview' or 'slice' function. Depending on the complexity of your .STL and its settings the preview may take a while to render, but this is perhaps the most important step of the slicing sequence. The preview will allow you to see the various settings you've chosen, and how those settings will physically extrude.

The preview function is also where the software provides you with the anticipated material consumption and time required to complete the print.

Examples of Previews

In the table below you see two "preview" (aka "slice") buttons. One is 'simple' the other more 'advanced' but they effectively provide the same function: they slice the .STL according the settings set by the user, and provide a visual 'preview' of the output. (The visual preview is very important for understanding your own settings.)

"preview" & "slice" are effectively the same function

"print preview" in MakerBot Print


"Slice now" in PrusaSlicer



Preview with MakerBot Print example

Click the image below for a larger look at the anatomy of the print preview for MakerBot Print's software:

preview of makerbot print preview

The window has two sliders - Layer, and Moves - that you can drag up&down or left-to-right to see layer highlights and move paths respectively. The preview also tells you how much material these settings will use, and how long it will take.

The 'Play Animation' button provides a neat effect, and if you have the time it is worth watching your print preview play, layer by layer:

In the actual slicer software you can 'pause' the animation at anytime and drag the slider manually to 'zero in' on a specific layer to inspect it, move by move.

Preview with PrusaSlicer example

Click the image below for a larger look at the anatomy of the print preview for the PrusaSlicer software:

prusaslicer preview window

Some differences between these two example software environments are superficial: MakerBot Print uses green for the 'model material' whereas PrusaSlicer uses orange. Other differences are slightly more technical: MakerBot Print strips away all the output parameters save the material usage and time, whereas PrusaSlicer puts all that data up front because it's all related one way or another. Still further differences are outright different: PrusaSlicer doesn't have an 'animation' function at this time, but it does have a layer-by-layer slider.

When you're ready you will want to "export" your code.

This may be referred to as "export," "export code," or "export G-code" - or other wording - depending on the software you are using.

Basically the "preview" or "slice" generates code, that you then want to "export" or "save" to load onto a 3D-printer.