I am always looking for ways to improve my prints and I saw a conversation on Reddit asking about the IdeaMaker verses Cura and it got me thinking. I have used Cura pretty much exclusively because it had so much support and there are some excellent profiles for the Artillery Sidewinder X1. I had a recent episode with Cura where it had somehow corrupted itself so I had to purge my system of it and reinstall (painfull). So I figured I would do a challenge between the two slicers.
Being an Ubuntu user, Cura does not install with a .DEB file but comes as an AppImage which makes opening it each time a bit of a hassle. IdeaMaker has a .DEB file which installs and runs cleanly. I was a little concerned because there were a few profiles in the IdeaMaker library for the Artillery Genius, but only one for the Sidewinder X1. Since this was a test, I installed the sidewinder profile (which was way easy compared to Cura). Instead of changing that profile to match all my well tuned Cura settings, I used it as-is with a single change. I upped the hot end temp to 215 because I have the MicroSwiss 0.4mm stainless steal nozzle which needs a little more heat.
I did 2 print sets of small items on the same Sidewinder X1 with the same PLA filament. Because I was so impressed, I did a bigger print. That test had to be with different PLA filaments as I ran out of the red. The bigger item was one of the 120mm diameter pieces of my Puzzle Presentation Spheres (see the pictures). The Cura print is the one is red and took a little over 25 hours. The IdeaMaker print is the rainbow colored one and took a little over 8 hours.
One of my outstanding issues with this model series is that it always prints with a Z seam/line down the back (on the red one) but IdeaMaker did not produce one. The sharpish edges of the back circle are so much cleaner – Cura always leaves small spines near that edge.
Not only did IdeaMaker produce a much better quality print, it did it about 1/3 the time. In checking out the details of the IdeaMaker profile, its default speed was set to 60mm/s where Cura was 50mm/s. My thumbnail math says that speed difference should make the job about 1.45 faster. What accounts for that startling 3 times faster job completion time? I suspect that the Gcode is much tighter because the Cura Gcode file for this job is 78.2mb where the IdeaMaker Gcode is 11.2mb. I thought that was an error at first, but you can see the result.
I have two issues with IdeaMaker: First, the retraction needs to be tuned some it has left tiny strings a couple times; Second, IdeaMaker keeps telling me that the .STL for the Sphere part is not Manifold. That model was developed and exported from Blender after Blender’s pretty exhaustive 3D Print test and it does not have manifold issues there. Cura also thinks it is fine as I have printed a couple dozen times from the same .STL with different slices – no issues. I tried the IdeaMaker Repair utility and it really changed the object, so I told IdeaMaker to slice it as it was.
UPDATE: 1 week later – I have been running this test this on my Artillery Sidewinders and Sovol SV01. All the printers have been doing production runs nearly continuously for the last 8 days. Production quality has been excellent and time savings has been startling. At this level of production, I will not have to purchase new printers in the short term. I am getting at least twice the production out of each of the printers.
2 Months Later – I have only used Cura twice since this challenge. I have been asked repeatedly for IdeaMaker profiles so I have exported my pretty well tweaked Profiles. I have Profiles for both the Sidewinder X1 and Sovol SV01 and put them here. Please note that these profiles are tuned for parts and my products. They might need more tuning for really detailed model printing.