The difference between factory, process, profile, material, and quality settings in Simplify 3D

Understanding the difference and how to use process, profile, material, factory, and quality settings in Simplify 3D version 4.

The difference between factory, process, profile, material, and quality settings in Simplify 3D

Simplify 3D has been my go-to 3D printing slicer for many years. But I've mostly used it for one-off prints, slicing a 3D model to make a single print and then moving on to another project.

But I've recently been printing a lot of Starlink Tripod Adapters which I've been selling on Etsy. And also purchased a second 3D printer to keep up with demand and enable printing larger parts. And with spending so much time modeling, slicing, and printing, I've realized there are still some features of Simplify 3D that I don't fully understand. Specifically, I realized I've never fully understood the difference between process, profile, material, and quality settings in Simplify 3D.

Based on the number of discussions on this topic in the Simplify 3D forums, this also seems like a confusing topic for many Simplify 3D users. Even though there are Simplify 3D videos about profiles, processes and material / quality settings, I still had a lot of questions. What settings are included in material settings vs profile settings? What is the relationship between profiles and processes? And what do I need to do when adding a new printer? In this article, I set out to answer these questions by experimenting with real examples in Simplify 3D (I used version 4 in this post).

Preparing to print the Starlink Adapter in Simplify 3D


Profiles are where the bulk of configuration settings are stored in Simplify 3D. Profiles store everything from the size of the print bed to the temperature for a particular filament. Profiles are accessed within settings for a process but are available across processes.

When making changes to profile settings, there's an option to Update Profile to save updated settings to the profile or Save As New to create a new profile. Setting changes can be discarded if I'm only testing changes or making one-off changes.

I think of a profile as all of the settings for my printer + settings for the material such as temperatures, cooling, etc. Profiles can also be imported and exported from Simplify 3D which is a helpful way to save configurations to reuse or compare later.

Material and Print Quality

Some of the settings in a profile can also be managed via the material and quality settings of the profile. These settings allow adding one or more materials or print qualities to a profile. In practice, material and quality are shortcuts to quickly change settings within the profile without having to change individual settings.

An example of material and quality settings in Simplify 3D

For example, each material includes settings for the extruder temperature, bed temperature, extrusion multiplier, and fan speed. And quality includes settings for layer height, bottom solid layers, skit layers, infill percentage, and support infill percentage.

Here's a real example of material and quality settings as stored in a Simplify 3D profile file:

<autoConfigureMaterial name="PLA">
      <setpoint layer="1" speed="0"/>
      <setpoint layer="2" speed="100"/>
<autoConfigureQuality name="20% Infill">

A profile isn't required to have materials or qualities. Removing all the materials and qualities from a profile results in the sections for these settings disappearing. However, the individual settings for these such as extruder temperature can still be managed within the other tabs of the profile. In short, these are shortcuts but the settings they modify can be configured individually.

While material and quality shortcuts may be useful for certain profiles, it's also limiting for others. What if I want to change not only the infill percentage but also change the infill pattern? The infill percentage is stored within the quality, however, the infill pattern is stored within the overall profile. So to save a unique combination of infill percentage and infill quality I'd need to save a new profile.

I personally don't use the material and print quality shortcuts. I find them confusing as it's hard to understand and remember which settings are included in the shortcut vs profile settings. Perhaps if the Simplify 3D user interface grouped these settings or otherwise indicated they're part of these shortcuts they would be more useful.

In practice, my workflow normally involves creating a new profile for each new combination of printer, material, and quality. For example, I have a profile called Ender 3 S1 Plus - PETG - 30% Infill. I select one of these profiles when starting a new print, customizing settings as needed, and saving a new profile if applicable. I find this to be the simplest and most transparent approach. I also sometimes use factory files to save settings (more on factories below).


I've long been confused by the difference between processes and profiles in Simplify 3D. In practice, I've mostly used a single process, opening it, selecting a profile, and further customizing the process settings as needed. After doing some research, I've come to understand that processes are really about having different settings for a single print. For example, perhaps I want to print two models that overlap each other, one model with 20% infill and the other model with 100% infill for adding threaded screw inserts after printing. In this example, I would use two processes. The first process would use my Ender 3 S1 Plus - PLA - 20% Infill profile and the second process would use my I have a profile called Ender 3 S1 Plus - PETG - 30% Infill profile but changed (but not updated - aka saved) with 100% infill.

Therefore, I've come to think of processes as mostly print specific whereas profiles are mostly printer, material, and quality specific. I mostly use a single profile, selecting a profile and further customizing settings as needed. I only use multiple processes for advanced print needs. When using multiple processes, processes can also be grouped so that any change to a setting with the same value is changed across all processes if changes in any process. For example, this grouping capability could be used to update the print speed across all grouped profiles without having to edit each process individually. This is useful when using multiple processes, but again that's not the normal use case for what I print.


I think of a factory as a project in Simplify 3D. A factory file format that saves all of the current 3D models, bed placements, process settings, and custom supports in a single file that can be saved and reloaded later. I find factories especially helpful for prints that I'm likely going to want to revisit in the future. For example, I have a factory file for my Starlink Tripod Adapter as I plan to continue printing it for the foreseeable future. I normally print using a GCODE file generated by Simplify 3D that's tuned for my 3D printer. However, let's say I change my printer in the future resulting in the print bed increasing by 5mm in height. Having a factory file makes it easy to re-open the Simplify 3D project, change the necessary settings, and regenerate a GCODE file.


I think Simplify 3D could do a better job providing workflow recommendations for how to use process, profile, material, and quality settings together. And for me, I'd like to see the user interface for material and quality settings updated before I'd consider using these shortcut features. That said, I'm still a fan of Simplify 3D and looking forward to trying version 5 in the future.