A slicer in 3D printing terms is software that allows you to manipulate and prepare your design for printing.
Lychee Slicer is one such program that specializes in preparing model files for resin 3D printers primarily, but can also be used for FDM printers.
Those opening sentences provide just a very brief explanation of what Lychee slicer is.
In this article, we’ll be delving much deeper into what it does, how it works and how you can use it to get the best quality prints.
First though, let’s just remind ourselves of how Lychee Slicer started.
Story behind the Lychee Slicer
Lychee started life in 2017 was created by designer Julien Delnatte and the company Mango 3D.
He decided that he wanted to design and create his own resin printer, but then also decided that he needed to create a new slicer to work alongside his shiny new machine.
This needed to be of a better standard than those already out there where quality was being lost from the original designs to slicing then printing.
And the Lychee Slicer was born.
Initially, the slicer was only compatible with the 3D resin printers that were being produced by Mango 3D.
Once the benefits of the new slicer became apparent to its users, Mango 3D decided to open the field to allow other manufacturers printers to be used with the program.
This is where we now have the version of Lychee Slicer as it is today, and it’s this that we’ll be discussing.
Other slicers such as the well-known Cura software focus on FDM printers, so can’t be directly compared. Anyway, the manipulation and settings of print parameters follows a similar path in all three.
Therefore, if you’re at all familiar with either Cura or ChiTubox then some things we’ll be discussing won’t be new to you.
So let’s now use that key to unlock the hidden treasures inside the Lychee Slicer chest.
Key Features of Lychee Slicer
Lychee Slicer is an impressive piece of software and an invaluable tool for users of resin printers.
There are many features that set it apart from its competitors, and many that you would expect to see.
Let’s then have a look at the key features.
Open-Source and Free
Lychee Slicer has always been an open source program, which is a blanket term for any software that allows for the original source code to be made freely available, redistributed and modified.
This basically means that you or I could take the source code of Lychee Slicer and modify it to suit our own needs.
This is a fairly common practice with this type of software, as the programmers are usually just happy to see their creation being used to its full potential.
It also means that printer manufacturers can use the code and create their own custom slicer to market with their own printers.
An example of this is Creality who have used Cura as the basis for their Creality Slicer program and ChiTubox for their Halot Box resin slicer.
This does have the advantage of making Lychee Slicer free to use as well, which can only be good for us 3D printing geeks!
However, there is a catch in that the free version has limited access to all the features that Lychee Slicer has to offer.
The access to the Pro version comes at the cost of €65.99 a year.
An upgrade to the Premium option adding another €44.90 per year.
This gives you a total cost of €110.89 per year if you want and “access all areas” pass to Lychee Slicer.
The User Interface is easy to navigate and is indeed user-friendly even for new users.
The UI is the first thing you’re presented with when you open up the software, and some functions and tools on show may seem a bit overwhelming at first.
This soon passes once you get used to how each setting works and if you’re still lost, there is help at hand through Mango 3D’s online tutorial system.
Everything is presented in a clear fashion, with the 3D representation of your model center screen and the tools distributed around the screen edges.
Things are easy to find and once you get familiar with where everything is kept, you’ll be up and running pretty quickly.
Supports Multiple 3D Printer Models and File Formats
Lychee Slicer originally only supported Mango 3D printers, but now has support compatibility with virtually every resin printer available.
This is an impressive feature of the Lychee Slicer, but what adds to this is that you can also use it as an FDM slicer. The company has announced late in 2022 that it will continue to improve the compatibility for FDM printers.
With regard to file formats, Lychee Slicer can import STL, OBJ, 3MF and LYS files and will export the sliced model file as G-code.
Customizable Support Structures
With any 3D printed model, but particularly resin, it’s inevitable that you’ll need supports.
In FDM printing, these supports are fairly standard and will generally be vertical and support anything that’s overhanging the build plate and extended from the main model structure.
With resin printing the support process is a little more complicated and supports can be vertical or tree-like and emanate from other parts of the model and not just the build plate.
The shape and structure of these supports can be determined to the finest detail as well so that you have the best support for your model and less chance of failure.
All of these functions can be found within Lychee slicer.
This is a great feature of Lychee Slicer and allows you to let the software do all the heavy lifting for you.
You can use the Magic Slicer menu to give Lychee Slicer the license to automatically set the most common parameters to your model and prepare it for slicing.
This takes away the time-consuming work of having to do everything yourself each time.
Advanced Options for Optimizing 3D Prints
As we’ve said, the free-to-use version of Lychee Slicer is excellent.
But, it doesn’t provide you with the full package of advanced options and settings that you get with the Pro and Premium versions.
These upgrades will provide you with more options, such as:
- Advanced support settings
- Slicing and file exporting
- Hollowing, such as Selective 2D hollowing or 3D Hollowing
- Physical Size Mode (very useful feature!)
- And many more…
To see a full comparison of the three versions of Lychee Slicer, have a look here.
How Lychee Slicer Works
So, we’ve seen some of the things that Lychee Slicer can do, but how does this actually work?
The best way to show you is to go through the basic process one step at a time.
Step 1: Import your model file
This should be as simple as it sounds and is just a case of importing the required design file into Lychee Slicer ready for preparation.
Once it’s been imported, you should see the model appear on the virtual build plate.
Step 2: Slice the model
Obviously, the main purpose of the software is to slice or prepare your file for printing.
If you look at the UI, you’ll find all the settings you need to slice your model to your parameters.
This step in our process is therefore the longest and will entail using some or all of the following tools:
- Layout – This is where you can decide the placement of the model on the build plate, and it’s orientation. You can use tools to mirror, scale, rotate, copy/duplicate and batch print.
- Prepare – The main part of the slicing process whereby you can use tools to generate supports, make holes and hollow out your model and produce a raft to adhere to your build plate. The supports are determined in a separate menu to the right of the UI which allows you to set the various parameters as were mentioned earlier.
Step 3: Preview the print and generate the G-code
This is the final stage of the slicing process and allows you to see how your print will look once complete.
At this stage you can hopefully see where any flaws or potential failures might occur, so you can then go back to Step 2 and adjust these accordingly.
Once you’re happy, you can “export” the file, and it will complete the sliced file ready for printing.
Step 4: Print
The last and probably most important part is our ultimate goal of printing the model.
This will depend on your particular printer and how you connect to it, but you’ll have a 3D printable file saved from Lychee Slicer ready to go.
Use import profile feature – This feature allows you to save or import the resin settings from 3rd party slicer. Additionally, you can save your settings and use to apply them to the next model.
This is a time saving feature too, as you don’t need to tackle new settings for every new model you slice.
Autosave and Cloud Save – Make sure the autosave feature is active and set to 2 min autosave. This applies too to the Cloud Save feature, which will automatically save your printer and resin settings to the cloud. You can access these settings under File → Preferences.
Join the Lychee Official Discord Community – Stay up to date about all new features, and also meet other Lychee users to exchange tips and solve challenges together.
Benefits of Using Lychee Slicer for 3D Printing
Hopefully the general overview we’ve given will show you some of the advantages of using Lychee slicer. There are though a few notable points that we haven’t yet mentioned fully.
Increased Printing Accuracy
With the ability to set so many different parameters within Lychee Slicer, you can ensure that your model has the best chance of ending with a quality finish.
The accuracy of the printing in any 3D model is determined by how well the settings are prepared and ready for slicing.
The Lychee Slicer provides you with all the tools you need to get that accuracy.
Customizable Support Structures
As we’ve already discussed, the support structures can be manipulated to form virtually any shape you want them to be.
You can also position them anywhere around and even in the model to ensure full protection against any part of your model collapsing or not printing properly.
The supports themselves in resin printing are different in structure to those used for FDM prints. With FDM, the only real things you can change is the internal pattern of the support framework and basically whether to actually have supports.
In resin printing, you can choose from either standard supports or tree supports. So, let’s take a brief look at both of those and what you need to consider.
- Standard: These will be more along the lines of the FDM supports and will be positioned vertically while usually starting from a raft base. You can select the shape, length and diameter of the support in the free version of Lychee Slicer but the upgrades will give you more options.
- Tree: As the name suggests, these supports “grow” around the model and provide supports in areas that aren’t directly in line with the build plate. For instance, if a model figure has an extended arm which goes over a kneeling leg or a rock base, a tree support will fill the gap between the arm and the leg/rock to fully support it. Again, more options for this are available in the paid for versions.
Although the ability to customize the supports manually is great, Lychee slicer does give you the option to auto-generate the supports which takes the hassle out of doing it yourself.
Reduced Printing Time
The time it takes to print your model will depend on a number of factors that you set in the slicer, as well as how well your printer performs.
Things that will add time to the print are supports, layer exposure time, model orientation etc.
These can all be set and previewed in Lychee slicer to give you a good idea of how long your print will take and how much resin it’s likely to use.
These figures are of course estimates, so be prepared for some errors to occur along the way.
Use Cases of Lychee Slicer
Lychee Slicer is of course only a tool for use in preparing your model for printing, but what sort of models or 3D printed items can it handle.
As our final discussion, let’s have a look at some common areas where Lychee Slicer might be used to produce 3D items.
Home 3D Printing
This is probably the most common use and possibly what most of you reading this will be doing.
Resin printers are synonymous with the printing of miniatures and model figures for gaming or display purposes, as well as small household items such as cups or vases.
Lychee Slicer is ideal for such items as, in the miniatures, the tend to be highly detailed so require the extra support and preparation tools that the slicer provides.
A resin 3D printer is often preferred over an FDM printer in the production of prototypes, as it will provide a solid construction to the model and allow finer detail to be seen.
A prototype is often a smaller version of a much larger model or even a machine or building, and to be able to see how that detail can be scaled up to the real thing is essential.
Lychee Slicer allows for these details, so is fully capable of working in the field of prototyping.
Again, as with the printing of miniatures and prototypes, the 3D printing of jewellery is ideally suited to the resin printer.
Design can be quite complex and delicate, so ensuring the correct placement and orientation of the item in Lychee Slicer is essential.
Similar to prototyping, resin printers can be used in the field of product design.
A manufacturer may want a scale model of an item that they intend to market and produce, but haven’t yet set up production of that item.
They’ll need to see their design in “real life” rather than a CAD render, so a resin printer is again the ideal machine to produce that.
Lychee Slicer can of course handle the preparation of that design into a fully formed 3D model.
So there we have it, a general overview of Lychee Slicer and its many functions and uses in the world of 3D printing.
We’ve only really scratched the surface of the feature that Lychee Slicer has to offer, so the advice here is to give it a try and see how you get on.
The free version of the software is great and will provide you with everything you need to get started and produce excellent 3D prints.
However, as we’ve discussed, to get the full potential from Lychee Slicer you’ll need to pay for the upgrade and this decision will be down to how much you use it and what you’re using it for.
Whatever you decide, hopefully this article will have given you some guidance and Lychee Slicer will become part of your 3D printing toolbox.