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Software for 3D Printing - 3D Modeling Software/Slicers/3D Printer Hosts

An Overview Of The Best 3D Printing Software Tools

Every 3D print begins as a 3D model generated in a modeling program. Years ago, we had to spend lots of money and time to acquire and learn modeling software. Now, there are many easy-to-use modeling software options available, many of which are free. This list includes some of the best options and is sorted by price, with the free ones sorted alphabetically.

The list also indicates whether the software uses solid modeling, a type of 3D modeling that always generates models that are “manifold” or “water tight.” A manifold model is one in which all walls of the model have some thickness, which is necessary for 3D printing. By contrast, software that uses polygon modeling can generate walls that have zero thickness; that’s fine for creating computer graphics for games and movies but not useful when 3D printing the models. Manifold models can be created with polygon modeling software, it just takes more steps and experience. All the software in this list can create 3D printable models, but every model that comes out of solid modeling software is 3D printable.

Additionally, we’ve noted what skill-level of user each software is designed for: beginners, amateurs, advanced users, and professionals. In general, the easiest to use options are near the top and the most powerful options tend to be near the bottom, though there are some outliers found throughout. Most of these software can be tried for free and there are free tutorial videos available for all of them.

Quick jump to:

3D Modeling Software

  • Tinkercad
  • Blender
  • DesignSpark Mechanical
  • FreeCAD
  • OpenSCAD
  • Wings3D
  • 3D Slash
  • SketchUP
  • Fusion 360
  • MoI 3D
  • Rhino3D
  • Modo
  • Cinema 4D
  • SolidWorks
  • Maya
  • 3DS Max
  • Inventor

Slicers & 3D Printer Hosts

  • Ultimaker Cura
  • Simplify3D
  • Slic3r
  • Repetier
  • KISSlicer
  • ideaMaker
  • OctoPrint
  • 3DPrinterOS

3D Modeling Software

These tools are all about creating models for 3D printing. Some of them are pretty easy to use while other programs are only suitable for professional users with years of experience.


  • Price: Free
  • Solid modeling: Yes
  • Intended for: Beginners
  • What makes it special: It’s designed to allow anyone to create 3D printable models and serves as an introduction to solid modeling.

This is a browser-based 3D design app geared towards beginners. The software features an intuitive block-building concept, allowing you to develop models from a set of basic shapes. Tinkercad is full of tutorials and guides to aid any aspiring novices get the designs they’re looking for. It even allows you to share and export files with ease.

With a library of literally millions of files, users can find shapes that suit them best and manipulate them as they wish. It also has a direct integration with 3rd party printing services, allowing you to print and have your print at your door-step at the press of a button. Even though it can be a bit too simple to the point of limitation, it serves as a great way to learn about 3D modeling.


  • Price: Free
  • Solid modeling: No
  • Intended for: Amateurs and advanced users
  • What makes it special: It’s open source, feature-rich, and includes tools for sculpting, animation, simulation, rendering, motion tracking, and video editing.

In essence, Blender covers many facets of 3D creation, including modeling, animation, and simulation amongst others. This open-source software has a steep learning curve and is ideal for users who feel ready to transition to designing complex 3D models. Check out our Blender tutorials for 3D Printing page.

Blender is actually a free 3D modeling software which was originally for 3D animation and rendering using polygonal modeling techniques. Despite its origins as a software for artists, it is considered quite accessible. One of the software’s interesting features is the photorealistic rendering option. This gives the models an air of realism that few free software can achieve.


  • Price: Free
  • Solid modeling: Yes
  • Intended for: Advanced users
  • What makes it special: Developed and used by the US Army to support ballistic and electromagnetic analyses. Also includes ray tracing and geometric analysis tools.

This open-source software is an advanced solid modeling system with interactive geometry editing. It is apparently used by the U.S. military to model weapons systems, showing that it is quite dependable but also very advanced. BRL-CAD offers a high level of precision due to its use of specific coordinates to arrange geometric shapes.

It offers a large library of simple and complex shapes users can implement into their own designs. They can take multiple shapes and combine them at their leisure, as well. The software used to be quite costly, however it was converted to open source a few years ago. It includes over 400 tools in its arsenal. It also runs at great speeds, especially considering how dense its features are.

DesignSpark Mechanical

  • Price: Free
  • Solid modeling: Yes
  • Intended for: Amateurs and advanced users
  • What makes it special: A library of 3D models from industrial suppliers and the ability to generate a bill-of-materials for designs. Electrical and PCB CAD tools are also available.

This nifty and free CAD software is ideal for professionals and advanced hobbyists alike. The user interface is relatively straightforward and the software runs quickly, meaning efficient designing. You also have the capability to generate a bill-of-materials that calculates the cost of printing potential 3D design projects.

DesignSpark Mechanical allows users to utilise an in-built library to mix with own drawings. Another feature that new users might find useful is the pull feature that allows users to create 3D models from only a surface. It is feature-rich for a free software and quite beginner-friendly.


  • Price: Free
  • Solid modeling: Yes
  • Intended for: Amateurs and advanced users
  • What makes it special: Models are fully parametric and recalculated on demand with an undo/redo stack. Other features include robotic simulation, architectural tools, and a path module for CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing).

A parametric 3D modeling tool that is open-source and enables you to design real-life objects of any size. The parametric component makes editing your design a piece of cake. Simply go to your model history and change the parameters, and you’ll have a different model. As the name suggest, it is in fact totally free. The upside of this is that none of the tools are blocked behind a pay wall, so you can tweak your models to your heart’s desire.

It’s not the best for professional purposes, but it’s a great training tool. Despite it’s basic options and design elements it’s worth a try if you’re new and don’t want to have to invest in something before you dip your toe in the water.


  • Price: Free
  • Solid modeling: Yes
  • Intended for: Amateurs and advanced users
  • What makes it special: Designed for programmers, models are generated through typing scripts.

OpenSCAD is a free software with a ton of features and a unique way of creating models. This software takes a programming approach to 3D modeling, making it a unique addition to this list of 3d printing software tools. Instead of the traditional interactive modeling interface, users write code in a script file that describes the parameters of the 3D object. Once you’ve entered your code, you can view the shapes you’ve created by clicking a “compile” button.

Another great feature that OpenSCAD has is the ability to import 2D drawings and extrude them as 3-dimensional. It uses a part profile from drawings made in a standard sketching software and use the SXF file to do this. With its stronger focus on programming, OpenSCAD may appeal to some while alienating others. Regardless, it is still a powerful tool.


  • Price: Free
  • Solid modeling: No
  • Intended for: Amateurs and advanced users
  • What makes it special: Polygon modeling enables the creation of more organic shapes. Standard tools can be accessed through a right-click menu.

Wings3D is another open-source polygon model tool. Despite being freeware, it comes with a wide range of mesh and selection tools. Tools like mirror make symmetrical modeling a breeze. Seeing as it is a program for beginners, it is very user-friendly and the learning curve is quite steady. Features like the customisable hotkeys and easy to use interface are indicative of its status as an ideal tool for starters.

Despite the ease of use, it has no shortage of useful features such as plane cut, intersect, inset, bend, sweep, circularize, and sheer, making it capable of some very impressive models. It also supports a very wide range of file formats for both import and export. Despite its simple and plain looks, it is definitely worth checking out if you’re just starting out.

3D Slash

  • Price: Free web version; Premium license is $24/year and a Commercial license is $240/year
  • Solid modeling: Yes
  • Intended for: Beginners and amateurs
  • What makes it special: Models are created through “slashing” 3D blocks away to shape them as desired.

3D Slash focuses on providing design software with a uniquely fun user interface and enough advanced features to work with a high level of precision. You can also make logos and 3D text with this software. 3D Slash is free to use and ideal for beginners, however there a range of price packages that add in features for cooperative use or commercial use depending on the needs of the consumer. Additionally, the free versions has limitations in terms of functions, higher resolutions and colours you can apply. It’s intuitive interface with a block cutting style to create shapes makes it simple enough for anyone to use.

Even if you can’t find the creative spark to start a design from scratch, there are a multitude of files available for download that you can import and then cut apart into something new. Novel features like the cursor mode that makes interior designing much easier are great additions. Aside from its ability to run on standard mode, it an can also be used with VR head sets. While the blockish style can be limiting in terms of range of shapes one can make and less pleasing to the eyes, it is nonetheless efficient and practical. There are few software that are as quick from concept to finish as 3D slash.


  • Price: Free web version; Pro version is $299/year
  • Solid modeling: No
  • Intended for: Beginners to advanced users
  • What makes it special: Intuitive and powerful, with a library of user-generated and manufacturer-produced models.

SketchUp is another good modeling software because it maintains that balance between usability and functionality, making it ideal for most skill levels. The software has an easy learning curve and there are advanced features available for professionals at an extra cost. It is especially good for designing interior and exterior architectural projects but also has tools for a diverse range of other purposes.

Anything complex can take quite a while, but simpler designs aren’t too time-consuming. A freeware version, SketchUp Make, and a paid version with additional functionality, SketchUp Pro, are also available.

Fusion 360

  • Price: Free for personal use and startups, $595/year for commercial license
  • Solid modeling: Yes
  • Intended for: Amateurs to professionals
  • What makes it special: Lots of features, such as tools modeling and sculpting, generative design, simulation, assemblies, collaboration, 3D printing, and CAM.

This is a unique addition to the list of 3d printing software tools. Fusion 360 is a cloud-based 3D CAD program that utilizes the power of the cloud to bring design teams together and collaborate on complex projects. Another advantage of the cloud platform is that Fusion stores the entire history of the model including the changes to it. Numerous design options are available, including freeform, solid, and mesh modeling.

Fusion 360 operates on a monthly payment subscription basis. The developers also regularly update the features, making it better as new instalments come along. It runs on multiple platforms and allows users to access their information wherever they want.

MoI 3D

  • Price: $295
  • Solid modeling: Yes
  • Intended for: Amateurs to advanced users
  • What makes it special: Can create smooth meshes from CAD models and is pen-tablet friendly.

Short for Moment of Inspiration, MoI offers a sleek UI and powerful range of CAD tools for users specializing in polygonal modeling. The program comes with advanced boolean functions that enable quick design of “hard surface” models. It is a user-friendly software that uses the NURBS modeling system.

While it isn’t free, it is cheaper than some of its competitors. It has a good amount of functions in it, yet avoids being too cluttered with pointless features. The system which uses curves and booleans makes workflow quicker as well.


  • Price: $995
  • Solid modeling: No
  • Intended for: Advanced users and professionals
  • What makes it special: Very powerful and full of features for modeling, analysis, rendering, 3D capture, CAM, and 3D printing.

The company behind this software markets it as the world’s most versatile 3D-modeler. The software is available for download in a variety of bundles on their website at various prices. The program uses a precise and mathematical model known as NURB, allowing you to manipulate points, curves, meshes, surfaces, solids, and more in all sorts of ways. Ultimately, given the range of design features available with Rhino3D, it’s hard to argue against its claims about unrivaled versatility in creating complex 3D models.

Users have commented on how the software can be very difficult to learn. This is a natural trade-off between capabilities and user friendly many designers have to make when creating a detailed software. While it is not the most accurate software at capturing user intent, it is one of the best on the market.


  • Price: $599/year or $1,799 for Perpetual license
  • Solid modeling: No
  • Intended for: Amateurs to professionals
  • What makes it special: Procedural modeling and artist-friendly tools for modeling, animation, texturing, and rendering.

Modo provides creative 3D polygon and subdivision surface modeling tools with a lot of flexibility, allowing you to create both freeform organic models and precision meshes using the same software.  This is a professional-grade program with a range of features designed for advanced 3D designers, and the price reflects this.

Even though it isn’t the most user-friendly software, it hosts a large set of features while running smoothly. The speed of the software is particularly evident in terms of baking textures. It also works with partner software and extensions as additional customisations.

Cinema 4D

  • Price: $720/year or $3,945 for Perpetual license
  • Solid modeling: No
  • Intended for: Amateurs to professionals
  • What makes it special: An intuitive interface, parametric modeling, and procedural workflow.

This is an extremely powerful 3D modeling tool that lets you create complex 3D designs. Cinema 4D’s quite flat learning curve makes it approachable for beginners intimidated by software with advanced features. The program is regularly updated with free service packs, which help to optimize how it runs on various operating systems.

The user friendly options present the prints in very accessible ways. Scaling and shading options make modeling far easier. It’s sculpting tool is a great example of why this software is ideal for editing models and pre-existing files.


  • Price: $1,295/year or $3,995 for Perpetual license
  • Solid modeling: Yes
  • Intended for: Amateurs to professionals
  • What makes it special: Powerful editing tree and tools for manufacturing, assemblies, simulation, cost estimates, CAM, and 3D printing.

Now we move on to SolidWorks. This is a CAD program often used by professional 3D designers. There are a plethora of advanced features included, such as design validation tools and reverse engineering. Solidworks comes in three distinct packages, depending on the exact features you need.

Solidworks tends towards the industrial side of things. It is practical and detailed. While most software, mimic curves through gently inclining flat structures, Solidworks uses a system of nurbs that create averages of the edges to produce fantastically detailed curvatures. It only does away with polygonal modeling, opting instead for dimensional sketching. As a result, resizing becomes far less of a hassle.


  • Price: $1,545/year
  • Solid modeling: No
  • Intended for: Advanced users and professionals
  • What makes it special: Procedural effects and powerful world and character creation tools.

Primarily marketed at animation professionals, Maya is useful for many aspects of 3D modeling, especially in terms of mathematically smooth surfaces and shapes. Maya was originally slated as a 3D animation software, but is very useful in 3D printing as well. Thus, a lot of the interface options are more reminiscent of sculpting and animation.

Maya is more applicable to artistic printing requirements. It has a fast rendering engine and is best for highly detailed models with many intricacies. The downside is that it is very expensive (it is, after all, the same software used for high-budget movie CGI|). Nonetheless, it allows for realistic representations of reflection and colour on a software with smooth operation.

3DS Max

  • Price: $1,545/year
  • Solid modeling: No
  • Intended for: Advanced users and professionals
  • What makes it special: Advanced users and professionals

Another program that focuses on animation, 3DS Max offers some great 3D modeling features such as shading tools, parametric mesh modeling, and polygon modeling. This Windows only software is a favourite among video game developers, many TV commercial studios and architectural visualization studios.


  • Price: $1985/year
  • Solid modeling: Yes
  • Intended for: Advanced users and professionals
  • What makes it special: Tailored specifically for product design and engineering applications and loaded with tools for simulation and manufacturing.

Inventor 3D CAD software offers professional-level 3D mechanical design. The program comes with freeform, direct, and parametric modeling choices. Furthermore, you also get automation and simulation tools.

Developed by Autodesk, Inventor comes in different packages depending on level of proficiency (student, professional etc.). One of the great things about Inventor is how they improve the software with user feedback. New versions include improvements to visual data representation and the ability to easily reference 3rd party designs without the need to convert file formats.

Slicers & 3D Printer Hosts

The second section of this list of the best 3D printing software tools focuses on programs that help you to execute a 3D print. Slicers are the easiest way to go from a 3D model to a printed part because they take a CAD model, slice it into layers and turn the model into G-code. The slicer software also includes 3D printer settings like temperature, layer height, print speed, etc. to the G-code. The 3D printer can read this G-code and make the model layer by layer following the instructions set in the G-code.

Ultimaker Cura

Despite its name, Cura can be used with almost any 3D printer because it is an open-source slicer. The program is ideal for beginners because it is intuitive and fast. Most of all, it’s easy to use. More advanced users can access a further 200 settings to refine their prints.


Simplify3D is an extremely powerful premium slicing tool that helps you drastically improve the quality of 3D prints. Not only does Simplify3D slice your CAD into layers, it also corrects any problems with your models and allows you to preview the end result, helping to further identify any other issues. Advanced users will need to decide if the premium features are worth paying for compared to open-source slicers.


This open-source software includes real-time incremental slicing, 3D preview, and more. It is one of the most widely used 3D printing software tools. The incremental real-time slicing ensures that when you change a setting, the slicing doesn’t need to start from scratch. Only the G-code for affected parts is recalculated. The end result is a fast, flexible, and precise slicing program.


This open-source slicer software supports three different slicing engines; Slic3r, CuraEngine, and Skeinforge. Repetier can also handle up to 16 extruders with different filament types and colors simultaneously, and you can visualize your end result before printing. There is a lot of customization and a lot of tinkering involved, making Repetier ideal for more advanced users. You also get remote access to your printers with Repetier host.


This slicing software does its job well, although the user interface is somewhat basic. Still, if you just need a slicer that delivers great results, use KISSlicer. Note that the basic version is for single-head machines only. You’ll need a PRO version for multi-head machines.


This free slicer is distributed by Raise3D and provides fast, simple slicing for most 3D printers. Team members can share print profiles and supports can be automatically or manually placed. The adaptive layer height tool allows the software to adjust layer height depending on the level of detail in the model, maximizing print quality while minimizing print time. Remote monitoring and control is also available.


A free open-source web-interface that allows for remote control and monitoring of 3D printers. It’s compatible with most 3D printers and allows users to watch their prints with an embedded webcam feed. Prints can be started, paused, and stopped remotely, and plugins are available to track print statistics and send push notifications on job progress.


This nifty cloud 3D printer management software comes at a cost. The essential idea is the management of the entire 3D printing process with one platform. Users can edit and repair designs, slice STL files from the cloud, and even send files for printing from anywhere in the world. The software also features the capability to share CAD files.

What software to use for 3D printing: The complete guide

David Roberson13 May 2021


Before starting to 3D print, you will need to make sure you have gathered all the necessary software “ingredients” that will guide you through the printing process, from preparing your 3D model to managing printers themselves.

These include:

  • CAD software to create a 3D model (you can also use an existing 3D model, if you do not wish or need to design one)

  • Slicing software

  • Software to operate your printer remotely (this is optional, but can be convenient)

This article will go through each of these ingredients, and will also touch on how the Ultimaker platform creates a seamless end-to-end flow between hardware, software, and materials, empowering you to unlock the magic of 3D printing and make innovation happen.

What is a “slicer”?

A 3D printing slicer – also known as slicing or print preparation software – is a program that converts a 3D model into a language your 3D printer understands.

Slicing software, such as Ultimaker Cura, digitally cuts a model into flat layers, which your printer can then print one by one. With the Ultimaker platform, however, slicing software is not always needed, thanks to integrations that allow you to print directly from CAD or the Ultimaker Digital Library.

Preparing a 3D print using Ultimaker Cura software

What is the best CAD software to design 3D prints?

CAD, or computer-aided design, software enables you to design a 3D model from the ground, up. There are many types of CAD software, each with its own benefits. AutoCAD, created by Autodesk, is perhaps the best-known among them since it was one of the first CAD software programs available for personal computers when released in 1982. Other CAD platforms include:

  • Fusion360 – great for designing and creating efficient mechanical parts

  • 3ds Max – used in all types of 3D model creation, including video game design, architecture, and 3D printing

  • TinkerCAD – A free, browser-based CAD tool that allows users to build 3D models out of various shapes. Popular with CAD novices and for STEAM education

  • Blender – free, open-source 3D model creation software

  • Siemens NX – for designing and creating advanced 3D models

  • Solidworks – for designing and creating professional parts for industrial use

  • Catia – Advanced design software used for creating surfaces and engineering systems

Before you begin 3D printing, be sure to do your research and pick the CAD software that’s right for your use case. This way, you’ll get the most out of the model you choose to design and print.

Also check which file types your slicing software is compatible with, so you can make your 3D designs into 3D prints.

A design in CAD software (left screen), slicing software (right), and the finished print

How to design parts for 3D printing?

When designing for 3D printing, there are best practices to help you get the best results from your 3D printer and the parts it creates. Design parts optimized for 3D printing will improve print success rates, reduce costs through lower wastage, and boost the speed of your product development cycle.

Consider build volume. Your 3D prints can only be as large as your printer’s build volume. Be sure to know its dimensions, then create a part that can either be printed within those dimensions in one go, or plan to use modularity (printing then combining separate parts). 

Decide orientation early. Because FFF prints layer by layer, determining the print orientation early in the process helps drive design choices, text alignment, and snap features.

Evaluate overhang support requirements. FFF printed parts are self-supporting up to 45 degrees. Overhangs below 45 degrees must be supported from below with support material.

Follow bridging support guidelines. For most basic filaments, FFF printing does not need support when bridging materials within a 10 mm gap. 

Pay attention to nozzle size. When designing small features, you should consider height, wall thickness, and nozzle size. Larger nozzles will print faster than smaller nozzles, but at a cost of increased minimum thickness and height for your models.

Design with hole diameters in mind. Generally, 3D printed hole features should not be smaller than 2 mm. If accurate holes are required, it is recommended to design the holes smaller than intended and post-process with a drilling operation. 

Avoid sharp corners. Sharp corners can be modelled in CAD, but the print may warp. Increasing the area of the surface in contact with the bed will decrease the likelihood of the warpage.

For a deep dive into these factors and more, check out our blog on design for 3D printing.

What software do I need to start a 3D print?

This depends on how much of the 3D printing workflow you need to perform.

As long as you already have access to a 3D model, you will typically need software that can slice that model, so your printer can get to work. Once you have started to print, you can also use software to manager your 3D printer (or printers) remotely.

But as we saw earlier, the slicing step can be avoided if you have a 3D printer integration installed in your CAD tool. If you already have access to a 3D printable file (such as a G-code on a USB stick) you can also go ahead and print without the need for any slicing software, as your digital file is already ready to print.

Controlling 3D printers remotely with Ultimaker Digital Factory software

Managing 3D printers remotely

Ultimaker S-line printers, the Ultimaker 2+ Connect, and the Ultimaker 3 can make use of a network connection to access cloud-based services on Ultimaker Digital Factory. By linking a printer to your Ultimaker account, your printer can then be controlled remotely, from outside of its local area network.

Want to learn more about 3D printing software?

Download our free white paper, “Important 3D printing software features,” which will help you determine the best 3D printing software for your business needs, as well as examine settings, print profiles, and other features that can help you get the most out of your printing experience.

Get the white paper

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Rexing V6 & ITrue X3 Dash Camera Mount


Adapter Mini Track Laser 303


Latest version Go pro magnetic mount

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Action camera cover

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Raspberry Pi Camera Mount for Ender 3


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Instructions for creating time-lapse printing on a 3D printer

Main / Blog / Useful / Creating time-lapse printing on a 3D printer

  • How to create a timelapse
  • Shooting methods
    • Many photos
    • Video
    • Automatic
  • Processing methods
    • Video editor
    • Special program
  • Major errors and their solutions
  • Summing up
  • Many professional 3D printing studios and even amateurs post beautiful videos where an object magically appears out of nowhere. Those who understand even a little about 3D printing understand that this is really just a time-lapse filming of the printing process. But almost no one thinks about how such videos are made. In fact, creating a time lapse is very simple, it does not require special skills of the operator and editor, and all you need from the equipment is a 3D printer and a smartphone. Next, we will walk you through all the details of creating timelapses and look at mistakes that can be easily prevented even before creating a timelapse.

    What is timelapse?

    Before you start creating a timelapse, you need to understand what it is. Many people are under the misconception that this is just a speeded up video. In fact, this is a special shooting technology in which photographs are taken at regular intervals, and then they are combined into one video on a computer, where each photo will be a separate frame. Unlike video acceleration, this method allows you to reduce the file size, while increasing the quality of the resulting time-lapse, because we do not shoot a long video, and then throw out unnecessary frames. Everything happens the other way around: we immediately shoot only those frames that will make up the video. And the increase in quality is achieved by creating individual photos, not video, for which high-quality shooting requires expensive equipment. Almost all modern smartphones have a high-resolution camera that allows you to take high-quality photos, but at the same time does not allow you to shoot high-resolution video due to memory speed limitations or low processor power.

    How to create a timelapse

    Important clarification: As we understood from the previous paragraph, a time-lapse consists of separate frames, which are then combined into one video. But no one forbids shooting “the old fashioned way” using the video acceleration method. For simplicity, hereinafter, fast-paced shooting will also be called time-lapse.

    The process of “making” a time-lapse is divided into two stages: shooting the material and processing it. Later in this article, we will look at various options for the implementation of these two stages. As an example, we will use the video and photos of printing a small puck on the Raise3D E2 printer.

    Survey methods

    Different shooting scenarios may use different equipment. Often, a regular smartphone is enough, on which you may need to install a special application. But to achieve maximum quality, it is better to use a professional camera. Also, do not forget about the battery charge in any of the devices used, especially when shooting models that take more than 1-2 hours to print. To create a high-quality time-lapse, you need to set the camera in such a way that the highest point of the model falls into the frame. This can be easily done by placing an object of similar height on the printer table. Do not forget about the light: if there is no special artistic intent, then it is best to place the light source behind the camera, at the height of the table, so that there are no unnecessary shadows and the model is evenly lit. As a result, the frame should look like the photo below.

    Lots of photos

    This method is what is meant by the word "timelapse". To do this, you need to create photos at regular intervals. Many cameras (including action cameras) and smartphones have this feature. After installing the camera and starting printing, you can start shooting. To calculate the appropriate interval between photos, you can use a simple formula:

    interval = print time / (video time * frames per second)

    Here video time is the length of the video received, and frames per second is the number of frames per second of the video received (usually 24, 30 or 60 fps). Note that all times in this formula are in seconds. For example, to get a video of 30 seconds in length when shooting a print of 1 hour (3600 seconds) at a frequency of received video of 30 frames per second, you need to set the interval equal to 3600/(30 * 30) = 4 seconds between photos. It should be borne in mind that when shooting with this method, the printer carriage will be visible in the frame, which means that as a result it will constantly flicker in the time-lapse. This can degrade the quality of the final result, especially on small models. To avoid this problem, you can use the following method.


    This option is the easiest to perform: start shooting video at the moment you start printing. Consider the need for a large amount of free space on the drive where the file will be saved. The advantage of this method is the ability to select certain frames where the caret will not block the model. To do this, before printing, you need to edit the Gcode so that with each change of layer, the carriage moves away from the part. You can read more about editing Gcode files in the article on our website. But extracting individual frames from a video in this way is an extremely time-consuming process.

    Fun fact: blogger GreatScott did an automatic photo of the model without the carriage hanging in random places by modifying the printer firmware and the Gcode print file. The essence of the method is that with each layer change, the carriage drove off to a special point, thereby pressing the limit switch, which in turn activated the camera and it took a photo.


    This method includes both the shooting of the print and the processing of the resulting photographs immediately after its completion. It is only available for smartphones and some action cameras. In fact, it is a fully automated method of taking many photos, because you only need to turn on the shooting, and the camera or smartphone will combine everything into a time-lapse video. Therefore, there is no need to process the received material. Processing methods After receiving the "raw" material, it is necessary to edit it on a computer. In the case of using video, everything is relatively simple, but to process a large array of photos, you need to use special tools and programs. Video Editor When shooting a large video, you only need to speed it up. For example, in the Sony Vegas video editor, you need to insert the video into the timeline and, holding down the ctrl key, move the right edge of the video to the left. When the edge starts to move, you will notice a zigzag. This means that you are doing everything right.

    Treatment methods

    After receiving the "raw" material, you need to edit it on a computer. In the case of using video, everything is relatively simple, but to process a large array of photos, you need to use special tools and programs.

    Video editor

    When shooting a large video, you only need to speed it up. For example, in the Sony Vegas video editor, you need to insert the video into the timeline and, holding down the ctrl key, move the right edge of the video to the left. When the edge starts to move, you will notice a zigzag. This means that you are doing everything right.

    An example of accelerated video on the timeline in Sony Vegas

    If you used the method of taking many photos, then you need to select the file item in the top menu, then import, then multimedia. A file selection window will open. Select all photos and under the file browser window you need to check the box “Open sequence”. You will have another window where you can change the frame rate if necessary.

    Creating a time-lapse from a photo using Sony Vegas

    Special program

    These programs exist for both smartphones and PCs. They are intended only for creating time-lapses, so you will not be able to trim the resulting video or change the frame in them. For example, you can use the Time-Lapse Tool on a computer. But on smartphones, it makes more sense to use automatic time-lapse apps like Time Lapse Camera. They have an intuitive interface that even a child can understand.

    Major errors and solutions

    Often errors relate to the wrong frame and lighting. If the model is closed by the carriage most of the time, then the only way out is to install the camera at table level. This can severely limit the height of the model being filmed.

    Wrong shooting angle

    Correct shooting angle

    If strong shadows are visible on the model, which you need to get rid of, then you can use a table lamp aimed directly at the model.

    If strong vibrations are visible after merging the photo into a time-lapse, then the camera moved during the shooting. In some cases, this is caused by vibrations that the printer creates. To solve this problem, you need to securely mount the camera relative to the printer.

    Example of camera shake

    Summing up

    As you can see from this tutorial, making a time lapse is very simple. The only difficulty will be the choice of equipment for shooting. Do not forget that the main stage is shooting the model, and the stage of processing the received frames is secondary, because if you shoot well right away, then you won’t need to process the video much.

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