I'm looking for a way to slice up a 3D model and then get the profiles of each individual layer. I need to 2D print the different layers (with the layer height that I define) for a Styrofoam craft.

Thank you very much!


2 Answers 2


I'm a fan of OpenSCAD and have used the method suggested in the first answer. For non-OpenSCAD users, another option exists, which I've also used.

PrusaSlicer is a free 3D printer slicing program. One can configure layer heights as desired for the material thickness, even though it's not likely one will find a printer with such values, except perhaps concrete 3D printers!

Once configured and sliced, the exported file (configured for a Prusa SL1 printer) is renamed to .ZIP and the files within extracted. The files of note are going to be PNG format, one file per layer.

The settings within the slicer software have to be "adjusted" for your creation.

In Print Settings tab, change the layer height to match your material thickness. Also in the Print Settings tab, turn off supports and turn off pad (left column selections).

In Material Settings tab, change the Initial layer height to match your overall layer thickness. Unchanged, it remains the default 0.05 mm, unlikely to match your building material.

On the Printer Settings tab, change the bed shape to match your objective plus a bit of spacing around the item. Change the max height appropriately.

Set the Display Width parameters to match your output. Excessively large values will result in small model segments in a large blank area. Set pixel values to desired resolution of the output image file. For example, 200 is equivalent to a typical inkjet printer resolution.

I performed all of the above steps for a simple cube, exported the file to the default .SL1 extension, renamed it to .ZIP and extracted to a folder. The folder contained a number of support files for the MSLA printer, but also a full list of the layer .PNG files. Depending on your system settings, you may be able to change the extension in the Save dialog to .ZIP.

If PNG is not a suitable format, one can convert them to SVG using Inkscape bitmap trace or similar software.

I recommend to create a model with some form of registration incorporated to the design. One can create and subtract a pair of cylinders, for example, that travels through each layer, allowing insertion of a dowel to more easily stack the slices for assembly.

One can add primitives within the slicer, but they fall to the bed and also cannot be subtracted, at least so far as my limited research has shown. I've used Fusion 360 and Meshmixer to create such modifications.

Another aspect of the slicer is the ability to hollow the model, which would provide for some interesting constructions as well as possibly easier alignment.

This should be a .GIF animation of the results of my testing on Astronaut Phil A Ment, 1 millimeter layer height:

astronaut slicing animation

stltopng conversion of original STL file of Phil:

phil a ment model

  • $\begingroup$ Very good to know! My first reaction to seeing the GIF animation was that I was seeing the LCD of a resin printer projecting the individual layers of a model to print. $\endgroup$
    – agarza
    May 20, 2022 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ That's exactly how it's done. $\endgroup$
    – fred_dot_u
    May 20, 2022 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much! During the weekend I couldn't try it because I was away from home but right now I'm downloading PrusaSlicer and starting to investigate. You have perfectly understood my idea. $\endgroup$
    – Pelayo PA
    May 24, 2022 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ Finally, I am using IceSL, it is the software with which I have best adapted to extract all the layers in svg format. I still have some shortcomings, I don't know what software I can use to modify and work with the 3D models (STL). Example: Let's imagine that I have an elephant in STL format but I want to orient it in another way and instead of the layers going from the top to the feet, let the layers start from the ass to the trunk. I don't know if I explain myself. 1/2 $\endgroup$
    – Pelayo PA
    Jun 10, 2022 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ Another thing that I would like to do is to dissect an STL to, for example, have the layers of the body on the one hand and the head on the other hand, in separate projects to be able to use different layer widths. Can you help me? Thank you very much! $\endgroup$
    – Pelayo PA
    Jun 10, 2022 at 18:55

With OpenSCAD, you can import the STL file and apply projection with cut=true at successive Z-axis translate operations, and write out the result as SVG. This can all be automated from the command line to product a series of SVG files for your layers to "2D print".

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks friend, I'll have to look at the option even though I don't know how to use OpenScad :-( $\endgroup$
    – Pelayo PA
    May 20, 2022 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ @PelayoPA: It's a programming language of sorts for designing 3D (or 2D) geometry. There are tutorials and a very good online manual. $\endgroup$ May 20, 2022 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ Before I learned that resin printers slicing results are image files, I used the OpenSCAD projection method as well. I believe one can write a script for command line execution to automate the process, but I do not have that skill, nor did I confirm the concept. $\endgroup$
    – fred_dot_u
    Jun 12, 2022 at 17:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .