While a G-code simulator sounds fancy, you don’t need anything super fancy to try it out yourself. It might even be waiting for you in a program you already use with all your 3D models: your slicer software.
If you don’t know, 3D slicer software is what makes a 3D model 3D printable. The slicer takes your 3D model and slices it into horizontal layers, according to the set layer thickness. It generates a “road-map” for the nozzle so the printer knows where to go.
The slicer software also takes care of all the print settings your 3D printer needs to do the job. The resulting file produced by the slicer is a G-code file, which the printer later “reads” while printing.
One of the coolest features of slicers is the G-code simulator, or “layer viewing” mode. What it essentially does is generate a 3D simulation of how each layer is built, layer by layer. The “layer viewing” mode is a very handy tool for identifying if and when your model may fail when 3D printing starts. Different types of lines and structures are indicated in different colors, so that the user can get a closer look at what each step of the 3D printing process looks like.
Almost every slicer program out there offers a G-code preview. There are several free ones available that are sufficient for hobbyists, tinkerers and the like.
However, professionals in the industry may be interested in serious 3D printing simulations, which require serious software. The benefit is these tools are capable of showing all kinds of parameters, like the structural stresses, temperatures and even the part’s performance under load.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll present some of the best free and paid tools for G-code simulation. We’ll kick the things off with popular and free slicers, which offer a G-code preview, and slowly make our way towards the professional software solutions.
Let’s dive in!