ChiTubox is a slicer program that’s specifically designed for use with SLA or resin 3D printers. In this field, ChiTubox is one of the most used and most popular programs available. But are there any alternatives, and how good are they?
In this article we’ll take a good look at these alternatives and see what choices you have.
We’ll be looking at how each program perform in terms of:
- Primary features
- Pros and Cons
These considerations will then hopefully give you a good perception of each one and how they compare to ChiTubox.
Let’s first though briefly remind ourselves of about ChiTubox.
ChiTubox was developed by CBD-Tech and has been in use since 2017. As we’ve already mentioned, it’s now one of the main SLA slicers chosen by resin printer users. There are two versions available; a free “Basic” version or a “Pro” option, for which you have to pay.
If you want to know a lot more about ChiTubox then please take a look at our article: ChiTubox Reviews.
So, let’s take a look at those alternatives.
Alternatives of ChiTubox
As we’ve discussed, ChiTubox doesn’t hold the monopoly when it comes to 3D resin slicers. Aside from proprietary slicers (such as Halot Box which is aimed specifically at Creality printers) I’ve identified other slicers worth considering.
We’ll have a more in depth look at each one but first, let’s have an “at a glance” view of the things you really want to know.
|Primary Features||Pro and Cons||Pricing|
|Lychee Slicer||Clear UI. “Magic” slicer menu. Automatic supports. Real time previews.||Pros: Easy to use after a short time. Good user supportCons: Have to pay to get all features. Artifacts on slices. Display errors in UI||– Free|
– Pro: €65.99/year
– Premium: €110.89/year
|NANODLP||Automatic supports, speed and acceleration controls, hollowing and infill settings, light curing adjustments||Pros: Web based and free to use. Fairly easy to use UI and easy to useCons: Part of a bigger program. Needs additional hardware to work to full potential||– Free but needs additional hardware at a cost|
|FormWare 3D||Automatic supports, infills and mesh hollowing. Mirroring and scaling. Added” “floors” to increase build area.||Pros: Has some interesting and fairly unique features. Focussed on SLA printers. Cons: Aimed at more advanced users. No free option.||– Free 30-day trial|
– Personal: License €129.95
– Commercial: License €299.95
|Prusa Slicer||Clear and easy UI. Custom and automatic supports. Slice previews and colour change layers.||Pros: Easy and clear UI. Simple, Advanced and Expert modes for varying levels of experience. Free to download and use. Cons: Not easy to setup the MSLA mode. Not all printers are supported.||– Free|
1. Lychee Slicer
Like ChiTubox, Lychee Slicer was first developed in 2017 by Mango 3D. The software itself was borne out of a need to provide a slicer for Mango’s self-developed printers. As such it was initially a proprietary program but subsequent releases have evolved Lychee Slicer into a program that can be used with a multitude of resin printers.
There are three different downloadable versions of Lychee Slicer; Free (download here), Pro and Premium. The Pro and Premium are paid for versions as can be seen from the table.
We’ve had a brief glance at the key aspects of Lychee slicer in the table above, but let’s now take a longer look.
The UI (User Interface) is very clear and easy to use. First time users will be able to quickly get to grips with the main tools and feature of the slicer, but it can seem daunting at first.
There is however a good support network from both the developers and user community.
A nice and useful feature is the “Magic Menu” which allows you to set the slicer to automatically prepare your model for slicing. This takes out the somewhat laborious process of changing every setting and uses the most common values to prepare the model.
Having said that though, you can also tweak any and every setting yourself if you wish to do so.
Setting up supports for your model can be tricky in the world of resin models.
Getting the right supports in the right place can be the difference between success and failure of your print.
Lychee Slicer provides automatic supports which will intuitively add supports in the right areas. A good feature for anyone who has difficulty getting this technique right.
Other notable features include “real time” controls of hollowing, drainage holes and slicing previews. These are all useful in avoiding failures of long prints through poor preparation.
I personally consider Lychee as one of the top favorite for free Chitubox alternatives.
Pros and Cons
- Easy and clear UI
- Good supports settings
- Automatic support and slice settings
- Basic version is free to download
- Wide range of printers supported
- Good community and company support
- Not all features are available in the free version
- Can seem daunting to new users
- Slices can leave unwanted “extra pieces” or artifacts
- Some errors appear with relation not the UI view (i.e. model disappears, compatibility errors show, model not present error shows etc.)
The free version is, well, free! The Pro version though costs €65.99 a year with an upgrade to the Premium option costing an extra €44.90 per year. The Premium option therefore costs €110.89 in total per year.
NANODLP is a much more complicated affair than your standard slicer. For starters, its web based so no need to download, and it works with all OS.
Both of these are additional items that you need to buy and set up so not an easy option for the novice.
However, the use of a separate board can be a useful way of adding additional features to your printer setup so may be worth the investment.
In fact nanoDLP prides itself on being and all-in-one control system for your resin printer. In this respect, its pretty much the same as Octoprint is for FDM printers but not as well known or used.
The main features of NANODLP are pretty much the same as most of the others.
The difference being that the UI also has more advanced settings to do with the control of your printer, as well as the slicer settings. This can lead to some new users being “overwhelmed” by what they’re looking at and, as such, putting them off using it.
The slicer itself though is pretty straightforward and offers automatic supports, speed and acceleration controls, hollowing and infill settings, light curing adjustments etc.
Pros and Cons
- Web based and
- Free to use
- Fairly easy to use UI
- Generally easy to learn
- Part of a bigger program
- Needs additional hardware to work to full potential
Free to use the software, but additional cost for Raspberry Pi and/or NANODLP board
3. FormWare 3D
FormWare was initially started as a company in 2014 after firstly making online, personalised jewellery. They then looked into how they could improve their production process through 3D printing; This was why FormWare 3D was developed in 2015.
The software itself is fairly similar to others in terms of features but is dedicated solely to resin printers. This is good in terms of attention to detail, but there are a limited number of printers that the slicer supports.
You’ll need to purchase either a personal or commercial license, but you can take on a 30-day trial before you buy.
The primary features highlighted by the developer are mainly focussed on the support and infill functions. There are the obligatory automatic and custom supports as well as the ability to hollow or indeed add latticed infill.
You also get functions such as mirroring and sizing, adding drainage holes, file import and export and others.
Some interesting additional features are the ability to add “floors” to your print area in order to increase the number of smaller models you can print at once. You can also auto orient your model to avoid important areas having to be aligned to the print bed.
Pros and Cons
- Has some interesting and fairly unique features
- Focussed on SLA printers
- Aimed at more advanced users
- No free option
- Free 30-day trial
- Personal License €129.95
- Commercial License €299.95
PrusaSlicer is a much more familiar return to a downloadable slicer, but this one actually covers both resin and SLA printers.
Prusa was originally set up as a company in 2012 by hobbyist Josef Prusa who had designed a small range of FDM printers. The company has since grown massively and is now well established and respected in the 3D printing community.
PrusaSlicer was firstly released as an edition of the Slic3r program under the guise of Slic3r PE (Prusa Edition) in 2016.
Several regular updates and additions to this version then led to Prusa releasing the first incarnation of PrusaSlicer 2.0 in 2019. The current version is now PrusaSlicer 2.5
PrusaSlic3r is primarily an FDM slicer and was initially designed for use solely with Prusa FDM printers.
However, since releasing its own SLA printer, Prusa has now added a MSLA menu to allow resin slicing. In order to use the SLA slicer feature, you will need to ensure the correct printer configuration is added.
A very clear and easy to use UI with most of the features that you’d expect from a slicer. This has been developed using feedback from the Prusa community, which has led to a user-friendly UI. Most of the features are controlled using the toolbar to the left of the screen, but more precise settings are added in the right-hand box.
Automatic supports are expected by most users and there’s no disappointment here. However, you can also add your own custom supports using a nice little “paint” feature. This also allows for the addition of custom meshes and reinforcements.
Slice previews and the ability to add in color changes are also a nice feature.
Pros and Cons
- Easy and clear UI
- Simple, Advanced and Expert modes for varying levels of experience
- Free to download and use
- Not easy to setup the MSLA mode
- Not all printers are supported
Why Switch From ChiTubox?
Now, you may be very happy using ChiTubox as your slicer software, so why change? As we’ve seen from the few alternatives we’ve discussed, other programs do offer different options which may suit you better.
A fair reason to change something of course may be that it has things wrong with it that you just don’t like.
With ChiTubox, some users have highlighted the following problems:
- If the model is changed from the original design, errors or “artifacts” may occur
- Once you’ve edited the supports, there’s no “undo” function. This means you’ll have to start over
- The free version of ChiTubox has limited features
There are of course other things that you as an individual might not like but that’s then down to personal choice.
I think it’s fair to say that ChiTubox is an excellent slicer for SLA resin 3D printers. The features it offers are sufficient to carry out the function of slicing a model for printing and, lets face it, that may be all you need.
However, if you’d prefer to change and are looking for an alternative, then hopefully we’ve looked at some prospective new options.