Before 3D printing your design, it first needs to be converted into a format that the printer can understand. All consumer 3D-printers require ‘G-code’ files, which is an instruction set developed by MIT in the 1950s to control computerised machine tools.

Slicing tools take 3D designs as STL files and slices them vertically into the layers your printer will lay down. The slicing software will also work out the path your printhead will follow to create the outline and apply infill strategy to create each layer of your print.

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The following is a list of freely available slicing tools sorted by popularity / developer activity at the time of writing:

#1 Slic3r

  • Runs on Mac, Win and Linux
  • Developed in Perl
  • Activity / Popularity:
    • Last commit: 3 days ago.
    • Github Forks: 147
    • Github Stars: 404
    • Latest Downloadable release – 1 week ago.
  • Website

#2 Cura

  • Runs on Mac, Win and Linux
  • Developed in Python
  • Activity / Popularity:
    • Last commit: 3 days ago
    • Github Forks: 59
    • Github Stars: 127
    • Latest Downloadable release – a month ago
  • Website

#3 KISSlicer

  • Runs on Mac, Win, Linux and FreeBSD.
  • Developed in Unknown (not open source)
  • Activity / Popularity:
    • Last commit: unknown (not open source)
    • Github Forks: N/A
    • Github Stars: N/A
    • Latest Downloadable release – 10 months ago.
  • Website

#4 RepSnapper

  • Runs on Mac, win
  • Developed in C++
  • Activity / Popularity:
    • Last commit: 1 month ago.
    • Github Forks: 30
    • Github Stars: 98
    • Latest Downloadable release – 1 month ago.
  • Website 2015 update: Looks abandoned.

#5 SFACT

  • Runs on Mac, Win and Linux.
  • Developed in Python
  • Activity / Popularity:
    • Last commit: 2 months ago
    • Github Forks: 30
    • Github Stars: 83
    • Latest Downloadable release – Not found.
  • Website 2015 update: Looks abandoned.

#6 Skeinforge

  • Runs on Mac, Windows and Linux.
  • Developed in Python
  • Activity / Popularity:
    • Last commit: unknown.
    • Github Forks: N/A
    • Github Stars: N/A
    • Latest Downloadable release – 3 weeks ago
  • Website 2015 update: Looks abandoned.

Picture generated in the awesome GCode Viewer by Joe Walnes.

Edits:

  • Updated link to cura, and marked what now looks abandoned.