3D Software

E3D Skunkworks releases Pathio, a new slicer for FDM/FFF 3D printing

Award winning OEM E3D Online has released its skunkworks slicer Pathio for FDM/FFF 3D printer.

A first for the UK-based company that typically makes hotends, Pathio is, “A totally new core slicing engine that ‘does things right’ from the outset, built around a 3D first approach and a solid understanding of how extrusion-based 3D printing works at a fundamental level.”

Still in its Beta stage, the software has been released for users to try for free, subject to further improvements.

New slicer on the block

Pathio has surfaced from E3D after 18 months in development. The software is written in the C++ programming language and uses the Electron, an application framework.

One of the first things users will notice is that Pathio’s user interface is quite different from other slicers. The developers of Pathio say that they want to make “a user experience that is straightforward and beautiful for everyday slicing tasks,” but also one that “allows for powerful flexible use cases when you need to do something interesting.”

The beta version is available for all the three main operating systems, Windows, Mac and Linux.

3D models on Pathio's build plate. Image via Pathio/Twitter.
3D models on Pathio’s build plate. Image via Pathio/Twitter.

3D offsetting with Pathio

Pathio uses a novel slicing method called 3D offsetting. This feature lets users define shell thickness, Pathio then calculates a 3D offset of the model to generate shells and infills. In other slicers, this is achieved by adjusting multiple settings, e.g. top solid layers, bottom solid layers, perimeter shells, etc. In contrast, 3D offsetting “leads to true constant wall thickness throughout the model and automagically creates a more self-supporting geometry that reliably results in a contiguous shell without gaps or holes.”

“The 3D offsetting method also results in a more mechanically sound print, with corners being reinforced and shells on sloped surfaces maintaining constant thickness.”

A comparison of a slice using Pathio (bottom) and other FDM/FFF. Image via Pathio.
A comparison of a slice using Pathio (bottom) and other FDM/FFF. Image via Pathio.

The future of slicing?

Pathio is targeted at the general maker community, and as such has all the basic functions of a 3D slicer. However, some features of Pathio might appeal to beginners and “power users” alike. For example, you can group models together which is a handy way to assign varying settings to multiple 3D model and printing in batches.

For advanced users, Pathio also has enabled GCode scripting, which lets user tinker directly with the GCode inside the Pathio environment.

Currently, the software is completely free of charge. To download Pathio, users need to create a login, this will also let them be a part of the Pathio community. The authors of the software have said that this can help them receive constructive feedback which can be used for future development. This community will also help build Pathio’s cloud database of printer profiles, which can be uploaded by users, and include print settings for popular 3D printers like the Creality Ender 3.

Looking forward, the makers of Pathio hope to introduce sawtooth support structure, a pointed formation which will be easier to remove from a 3D print. Further releases will also bring a dynamic tracking feature to address the issues with gaps and holes in a 3D print.

Is this your Innovation of the Year? Or perhaps E3D and Pathio are contenders for Community Advocate of the year? Decide now by making your nominations for the 2019 3D Printing Awards.

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Featured image shows a 3D model on Pathio’s build plate. Image via Pathio.