What is Chitubox
Every slicer program is a pre-processing tool that converts 3D digital models and printing process parameters into instructions for a 3D printer to perform. It’s an essential step for any 3D printing procedure, regardless of the technology (FDM, SLA, SLS, etc.).
Most people associate slicing with the G-code generation, which is fair since FDM is the most popular 3D printing technology out there. This format, unfortunately, doesn’t work with resin 3D printers due to its entirely different nature.
This is why specific software for these 3D printers is necessary. While most printers are shipped with proprietary slicers, that doesn’t mean they’re good… ChiTuBox is a third-party tool that’s compatible with the most popular SLA printers on the market. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of this slicer while covering its most important aspects and features.
ChiTuBox is a third-party slicing software for SLA, DLP, and LCD resin-based 3D printers. Version 1.0 was released in 2017 by the Chinese company CBD-Tech. The relatively young tech company started its operations in 2013 with 3D printing hardware development, specifically controller boards marketed as the ChiTu series.
While still in the hardware business, CBD-Tech has also ventured into software. One of its first software programs was the discontinued ChiTu DLP Slicer. It was eventually rebranded as the official Anycubic Photon slicing software, which is almost identical except by name and a few settings. Another addition to CBDs portfolio is the ChiTu Cloud, a 3D printing platform for printer control and monitoring.
ChiTuBox is probably the most popular slicer alternative to resin printers’ proprietary software. It offers great control over printing settings while keeping a simple interface that’s easy to use. It offers support for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and it’s completely free. At the moment, there’s also a paid (pro) version in the works.
Platforms & People
At the time of writing, ChiTuBox offers official support for more than 20 resin printers, including the Anycubic Photon, Phrozen Shuffle, WanHao D7 & D8, Sparkmaker, and the Elegoo Mars. (In fact, ChiTuBox is the official slicer provided with the Mars.)
Speaking of which, ChiTuBox supports a great number of export formats, including all the supported 3D printers native files as well as STL, ZIP, and its own formats (*.chitubox and *.cbddlp) if one wants to keep a slicing project for later.
At the time of writing, ChiTuBox is available in 12 languages, and it has a huge community of users. While the official channels for tutorials and troubleshooting are comprehensive, it’s always a great thing to have helpful tips and insights from fellow users.
Although it’s a powerful slicer, ChiTuBox isn’t complicated – even for first-time users. This is due to its simple and clean interface, which we’ll briefly describe in this section. For more in-depth information about all its tools and settings, be sure to check the official software manual and the support pages at the ChiTuBox website.
- Main interface: When opened, the user is greeted with the ChiTuBox main interface. The main menu is located in the top toolbar, along with some frequently used tools.
- Basic tools: The positioning and editing tools are located at the center-left. This is where the user can translate, rotate, scale, and mirror the imported models on the build plate, which is in the center of the screen.
- Model list: Speaking of imported models, they’re all displayed in a list on the right. A model needs to be selected for positioning and editing, and this can be done by clicking on its name in this list or directly on the build plate. Just below the model’s list is the settings button. This will take you to the printer settings window, where printing parameters like layer height and exposure time can be manually adjusted.
- Support settings: ChiTuBox is also known for its support structures control. An entire tab is dedicated to this feature, which allows for the automatic or manual placement of these structures.
- Slice button: Last but not least, the “Slice” button will prepare the models for printing. It will show a preview, which displays the individual slices for all the layers.
The ChiTuBox slicer is a resourceful program that provides the user with plenty of tools. As mentioned before, it provides the user with a great deal of control over the printing process. It’s possible to adjust and tweak several printing parameters, like the unusual settings of “Lifting Speed” – the speed at which the build plate is lifted from the resin vat between layers – and ‘Light-off Delay’ – the total amount of time that the UV light is off between layers (thus allowing the new resin to settle in properly).
The software also allows for the creation of separate print profiles, a feature similar to that of Simplify3D. These profiles can be imported and exported, making it easier to be shared.
Besides the usual positioning tools mentioned in the previous section, ChiTuBox has an Auto-Layout tool that automatically arranges multiple parts in the build table while optimizing space. The slicer’s support structure allocation is also worth noting since automatic placement is very reliable and efficient. The remaining manual placement tools are also very intuitive.
One of the most popular features of ChiTuBox is the ability to hollow out the imported models and make drain holes. This process is very common in SLA 3D printers for saving on material since photo-curable resins are quite expensive.
With the Hollow tool, overall wall thickness is defined and the entire core of the model is emptied of material accordingly. The drain holes, on the other hand, allow the resin inside to flow out during printing, leaving only the cured shell of the model. With the Dig Hole tool, you can specify the size and manually locate the drain holes.
Sometimes a hollowed part might become too fragile, especially for applications that require some rigidity. To prevent this, ChiTuBox can generate infill patterns, very similar to what FDM slicers do. This is quite an unusual feature for SLA slicers. Here the user can choose the infill percentages and wall thickness together.
Another unusual feature of ChiTuBox is the built-in screen recording tool, located in the top toolbar. It allows an actual video to be recorded, which is automatically exported as a GIF. The user can also take a single screenshot of the main interface and edit it with this tool.
Once all the settings are configured and the slicing is processed, ChiTuBox will display a preview, which is a simulation of the actual print. The vertical leveler controls the height (hence the printing progress) of the simulation that’s displayed in a split-screen, with the 3D model on the left and the single 2D slice that’s being cured at a specific time.
The slicer also shows preview information, such as estimated build time and material quantities (volume and weight).