We now have concrete indications that the long-awaited version 5 of Simply3D could be released shortly.
This is a story I’ve been waiting to write for years.
Simplify3D was a revolutionary product, having first been introduced back in 2013. For those readers not familiar with that era, the typical 3D print slicing systems were command-line affairs, with extraordinarily difficult interfaces. Having a new product that literally showed your model in 3D WYSIWYG form was a revelation.
Because of that powerful capability many companies and individual operators shifted to Simplify3D. The company grew and released several updates:
- V2.0 released Feb 2014
- V2.2 released Dec 2014 +10mon
- V3.0 released Jun 2015 +6mon
- V3.1 released Jun 2016 +12mon
- V4.0 released Jul 2017 +13mon
- V4.1 released Nov 2018 +16mon
V5.0 was announced in early 2019, seemingly right on schedule, as per their previous update cycles.
However, it’s now 2022 and we haven’t seen V5.0 after over three years of waiting. That’s an incredibly long time for a software update.
It’s been so long that some operators have actually abandoned Simplify3D and moved to Ultimaker Cura and PrusaSlicer, both of which have added significant function in these past years with some even suggesting they have caught up to Simplify3D.
News from Simplify3D has been very quiet. My previous enquiries with the company have been unsuccessful.
We have received countless questions from readers about Simplify3D, some speculating about whether the company was still even operating (they are). We have also received similar enquiries from companies partnering with Simplify3D, wondering if they should continue doing so.
In other words, the 3D print community has plenty of questions and even doubts about Simplify3D and whether they will ever release the mythical V5.
I had similar questions, having had no contact with the company for quite some time. I did a bit of an investigation and found that the company is still quite active. For example, they posted a new blog in December, more or less on their regular posting schedule.
I also did a deep dive into LinkedIn to see whether the company’s staffing had changed abruptly. While I did find one former staffer publicly state they were “laid off”, there was no mass exodus of staff that you would expect to see in a company closing down.
The company’s staff slowly grew over their first years until 2019, when they hired more staff, presumably to work on V5. Then in 2020 they shed several staff, likely due to the pandemic. As of this moment, they have about the same staffing levels they had during previous software releases.
Last week I finally made contact with representatives from Simplify3D, who agreed to answer some questions about the product. I learned a great deal about their progress, which has been mostly behind the curtain until now.
First, I learned that V5 has not been a typical release for the company in several ways. Not only does it include a major overhaul for basically every subsystem in the tool, but it had to be built and tested during the pandemic, which came with all the troubles everyone has experienced. These are some of the reasons for the lengthy delay.
Apparently V5 will include an enormous amount of new function. These include:
- An entirely new user interface
- A new 3D engine behind the scenes
- Many new and innovative slicing features
- Greatly enhanced support structure management
- Improved build previews
- Replacement machine control panel
- Greatly expanded list of supported 3D printers
- And apparently even more
But when will V5 be released?
The Simplify3D spokesperson could not name a specific release date, but I got the distinct impression it would be soon. Apparently some of their team has already begun shifting into preparations for V5 launch after having done extensive internal testing, while others are still squashing the few remaining bugs. As of this writing, the company is developing V5 marketing and press materials, and that might tell you something about the imminent release.
Finally, the company intends on reverting to their normal release schedule once V5 is on the market. That would suggest approximately yearly updates will be the norm going forward.
This is all very good news not only for Simplify3D users, but also for the 3D print community at large: the more good slicers there are, the better!