Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about SmartSlice

How do I install SmartSlice?

Click here for installation instructions.

Does SmartSlice work when there are multiple parts on the build plate?

Currently, SmartSlice can only be used when there is a single part on the build plate. An error will result when attempting to enter the SmartSlice environment if there are more than one parts on the build plate.

A material I want to use has not been experimentally tested for SmartSlice.

This question is answered here.

What print parameters does SmartSlice adjust?

This question is answered here.

Thermal print parameters can effect part performance. Are they considered by SmartSlice?

Thermal print parameters, such as the printing temperature, build plate temperature, and print cooling fans, have an effect on the structural performance of printed parts. These parameters notably influence the level of bond healing between printed layers and between adjacent roads and they influence the residual stresses which play a role in warpage and layer delamination. To properly account for these parameters, the temperature-time history of the part would need to be simulated. These "thermal history" simulations are computationally very expensive and therefore do not align with the requirements of speed and simplicity, which are core requirements for SmartSlice.

With this in mind, it is important to note that all of the materials included in SmartSlice were printed using the print profiles provided by the filament manufacturers. This means that as long as you do not stray far from manufacturer recommend thermal print parameters then the consequences of modifying these parameters will be minimized.

Is SmartSlice local or cloud-based?

Both! SmartSlice is an Ultimaker Cura and BCN3D Stratos plugin and like these slicers, is installed locally. However, the simulations that SmartSlice uses to compute displacement and safety factors are cloud-based. In software terminology, the front-end is local and the back-end is cloud-based.

Does SmartSlice optimize the orientation of the part on the build plate?

The orientation of the part on the build plate does influence the values computed by SmartSlice. However, at this point, the orientation of the part is not a variable in the optimization algorithms. If this is a feature you want included in future releases, let us know.

How much time do Validate and Optimize solutions take to complete?

Most validate steps are completed between 10 seconds and 2 minutes. Most optimize steps finish between 10 minutes and 1 hour. The time required to generate a solution depends primarily on the following variables:

Validate or Optimize - The Validate operation evaluates the performance of a part with the current print settings and the Optimize operation evaluates the performance of a part that can have many different print settings. In other words, Validate requires one solution and a Optimize requires many solutions.

Model size - In general, bigger models are more computationally expensive than smaller models. A rule of thumb is that solutions take longer as the number of layers (slices) increases.

Feature size - Smaller features generally result in more computationally expensive models. To reduce solution times, delete small features that are not important in terms of the structural performance of the part. 

Print settings - Some print settings have an effect on solution times. For example, a part with a layer height of 0.1 will take longer to solve than the same part with a layer height of 0.2.

Optimization algorithm convergence - The SmartSlice optimization algorithm will converge on an optimized solution more quickly for some models compared to other models.

How do I submit a feature request?

It's easy! Just contact us and tell us what feature you want added to SmartSlice.

What happens if I attempt to run more than 1 Validate/Optimize at the same time?

If you attempt to run more than one Validate or Optimize job at the same time, which is possible if you have multiple instances of your slicing program open, then the 2nd job will be put into a queue. When the 1st job completes, the 2nd job will automatically be submitted.

There is a limit to the number of jobs that can be in your queue. Specifically, you can have 1 job running, and 2 jobs in the queue. If you attempt to submit a 4th job, it will be rejected.

SmartSlice is displaying a message that says "Queued...". What does that mean?

There are 2 possible explanations:

  1. You have submitted more than 1 job at the same time. This is answered here.
  2. The technology that powers SmartSlice runs in the cloud. In some instances, this infrastructure will need to scale-up if there is a sudden surge in demand. When this happens, your SmartSlice job is put into a queue until the scaling is completed. This typically takes about 1-2 minutes.

Why does SmartSlice only select partial curved surfaces in some cases?

The 3D geometry models used in Cura and Stratos are STL files, which are a surface geometry represented by a mesh of connected triangle definitions. The surface detection algorithms used by SmartSlice evaluates the changes in orientation between connected triangles to determine which triangles to select as part of a surface. In some cases the triangular mesh may have a poor representation of the actual geometry, or may be too coarse. If you suspect this is the case and you have access to the original 3D CAD files for your geometry, you may have success by repairing the geometry in the region of interest and/or by refining the STL definition. Most CAD programs allow for STL mesh refinement.

The print times in the Optimization table and Preview stage do not match.

The print times listed in the Optimization table of results may not match the print times shown in the Preview stage because SmartSlice disables some print settings that do not influence the structural performance of the part (Skirt/Brim related settings, for example) when generating the slices it uses to evaluate the part.

Is SmartSlice benchmarked against experimental results?

Yes! In addition to speed and user-friendliness, accuracy is fundamental to every feature in SmartSlice. We validate SmartSlice by printing and testing actual parts and then comparing the experimental data to results generated by SmartSlice. Head over to our Case Studies page to see SmartSlice compared to experimental data on specific applications and check out these blog posts where we have published some of our validation efforts:

What printers does SmartSlice support?

This question is answered on the page Choosing a printer.