20 Best 3D Printing Software of 2022 (CAD and Modeling Tools)

Updated Sep 21, 2022.
Best 3D Printing Software

Are you looking for the best 3D printing software to create designs on your 3D printer? Professionals use 3D printing in many ways to serve their clients better. 

Regardless of your experience, a wide range of 3D printing software will offer you excellent capabilities, features, quality designs, and seamless integration with computer hardware. 

When choosing 3D printing software, you must first understand your project and the 3D printer. Then, you should go for the one that will enable you to create the designs you want without compromising quality effortlessly.

What is the Best 3D Printing Software?

1. Autodesk Fusion 360

A 3D Feature-rich Modeling Program

Autodesk Fusion 360 is a 3D Feature rich Modeling Program

Fusion 360 is a cloud-based CAD platform with all the features required for product development and manufacturing. It is ideal for startups and high turnover businesses looking for a professional tool to get them into the market. Autodesk Fusion 360 is a fusion of CAD/CAM/ CAE tools delivered in a cloud platform.  

This software is not tied to a particular operating system as it runs on Mac, Windows, and your web browser. The license is linked to your Autodesk login and not the device you are using. With Fusion 360, you can design effortlessly with flexible 3D CAD software. 

Its integrated document management system backs up all your files to your Fusion 360 Team, making it easy for you to work wherever you are. This built-in document management feature ensures that documents are stored in the cloud. With the power of the cloud, the platform hands-off intensive tasks to allow you to focus on more critical tasks. 

It incorporates both direct and parametric modeling to allow you to start with an existing design or create your designs from scratch. Integrated CAM enables you to manufacture the final parts of your design. 

Autodesk Fusion 360 combines the power of design with engineering and manufacturing. It has a design area that tests the design in its functionality. It also allows the printing of components of any shape efficiently. 

Pricing

Autodesk Fusion 360 has three pricing plans. It does not offer a free plan. For users who need flexible access and payment options, the Monthly Plan is ideal. It costs $60. 

The most popular plan for professionals is the Yearly Plan which costs $495. For this plan, you can make a monthly payment of $42. 

You can also contact a sales representative for a custom quote. This is ideal for those who require advanced functionalities. 

Fusion 360 offers a 30-day free trial period when you can try out its features before committing. 

Autodesk Fusion 360 Pricing Plan

2. Autodesk AutoCAD

A 3D Printing Software for Making 2D Drawings

Autodesk AutoCAD is a 3D Printing Software for Making 2D Drawings

AutoCAD is a 3D printing software by Autodesk created for product designing, manufacturing planning, building designing, and construction. This software enables drafters, engineers, architects, and other professionals to create two and three-dimensional models and solid surfaces and meshes. 

It is available for Mac and Windows. Wireframe modeling, solid modeling, surface and mesh modeling are four types of 3D modeling in AutoCAD. Users can create realistic presentations with AutoCAD with creative imagination. 

You can use AutoCAD for creating 2D drawings, drafts, 3D models, and visualizations. When creating 3D modes and visualizations, users can add lighting and materials to their 3D models to achieve photorealistic renderings.

Due to its wide range of automated tools and features, it is widely used. It works with the principle of the dynamic engineering model. In 2D drawings, AutoCAD can change text settings. You can apply data from PDFs to drawings when importing and sharing data from PDF files. Its SHF text recognition tool converts SHF-font text to a text object. 

With its capabilities to create section planes, you can achieve cross-sectional views of 3D objects. Users also can configure the dimension settings. They can create dimension styles and apply them automatically to all the dimensions of their drawing. 

Its action recorder saves time and increases productivity by automating repetitive tasks without requiring the skills of a professional CAD manager. Users can quickly record tasks, add text messages, and select and play back recorded files. 

Using its new browser interface, you can browse files, examine thumbnail images, and provide detailed information about file size and creator. 

Pricing

AutoCAD offers a 30-day free trial period for users to try it out before committing. It also has a 30-day money-back guarantee. For the monthly plan, you pay $220. You save 33% on its annual plans, and it costs $1,775. 

You can pay $4,795 for three years. With this plan, you can save up to 39%. 

Autodesk AutoCAD Pricing Plan

3. Ultimaker Cura

A 3D Printing Software with Advanced Cloud-based Tools to Support your 3D Printing Workflow

Ultimaker Cura is a 3D Printing Software with Advanced Cloud based Tools to Support your 3D Printing Workflow

Ultimaker Cura is an open-source printer slicing software that is easy to use and supports various file formats, including STL, OBJ, X3D, and 3MF. It is available in different languages and also compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. 

It offers tools to adjust the model before printing, which allows you to easily position models on the build plate in the most efficient way. In addition, this software integrates with the Solidworks plugin to export models with one click. 

Plugins extend the core functionalities of the software. It also creates a seamless integration between your 3D printer, software, and materials to achieve the perfect print. You can download the app and manage your network-enabled Ultimaker 3D printers. 

Its pause feature allows the display of a custom message on the machine’s front panel to provoke the operator to perform a specific task. There is an overview guide on the Ultimaker Cura website for those beginners to navigate. 

With its wire printing feature, you can create a GCode recipe for your 3D printer to make a single-layer wireframe out of the edges of any 3D CAD file. Also, the spiral mode feature allows you only to load a single model at a time. This is a quick way of printing your file. To maximize your results, you should take note of wall line width, speed, and temperature. 

The mould feature allows you to quickly and easily make negatives of CAD designs. It will print the selected model with a wall surrounding it. For a model with a furry-looking appearance, use the fuzzy skin setting.

It is suitable for startups, small and medium enterprises, and agencies. 

Pricing

Ultimaker Cura offers a free forever plan.

4. TinkerCAD

A Free and Simple Browser-based CAD Program for Creating 3D Renders

TinkerCAD is a Free and Simple Browser based CAD Program for Creating 3D Renders

TinkerCAD is CAD software that caters to manufacturing, advertising, healthcare, and architectural industries. It allows you to create new designs using its modifiable shapes and designs. You can also recreate existing designs. In addition, it provides a user-friendly interface with options such as 3D design, circuits, and code blocks.

With its lines and customizable shapes, you can develop circuits. Its camera controls feature is intuitive and easy to use. It stores your product prototypes in the cloud, so you do not have to pay for large warehouses. You can review and enhance your product designs and create high-quality designs without having to compromise on quality. 

You do not need to employ a large workforce because the software does most of the work, including laser cutting and 3D printing. It ensures that your work is productive at an affordable rate. TinkerCAD connects you to 3D printing companies that can create a real-life version of your designs. It makes brick builders, Minecraft modelers, and plant pots. 

It can be split into three modules; 3D design, electronics, and code blocks. The 3D design helps creators design about anything in TinkerCAD. For creating 3D designs for electronic circuits, the electronics module is ideal. Finally, code blocks allow you to design 3D objects using codes.

The TinkerCAD website provides tutorials you can use to learn how to use the software effectively. It does not automatically save your work. You have to save your work yourself. It supports different languages. 

Customer support is available via email. TinkerCAD is ideal for startups, small to medium-sized enterprises, and agencies. Users can 3D print GIF creation and export the parts into the 3D editor for future use. It also allows for a 2D and 3D input to integrate other models into your new plan. 

Pricing

AutoCAD offers a free forever plan.

5. MeshLab

An Open Source System for Processing Editing 3D Triangular Meshes

MeshLab is an Open Source System for Processing Editing 3D Triangular Meshes

MeshLab provides a set of tools for editing, rendering, and converting meshes. In addition, it offers features for processing raw data produced by 3D digitization tools and preparing models for 3D printing. It is available for Windows, OSX, and Linux. Features are highly customizable.

This software is easy to use even for users without 3D modeling skills. It can accept the point clouds generated by scanners and convert them into meshed 3D models, making it particularly useful when combined with 3D scanning. Businesses of all sizes use MeshLab.

You can export planar sections of a mesh in the SVG version, using a slicing tool. Also, you can use its measuring tool to take linear measures between points of the displayed meshes.  It adjusts your files to fit limits to ensure that file uploads do not fail as a result of it being too heavy. 

It can also help convert the format of your file. You can also import your file in any of the supported formats. The tool is capable of managing the millions of 3D scanning meshes. Following an approach based on a layers metaphor, multiple meshes can be loaded together and separately or jointly processed.

Pricing  

MeshLab is free.

6. FreeCAD

An Open Source Parametric 3D Modeler for Designing Real-life Object of any Size

FreeCAD is an Open Source Parametric 3D Modeler for Designing Real life Object of any Size

FreeCAD allows you to sketch geometry-constrained 2D shapes and use them as a base to build other objects. From the built-in Python interpreter, you have access to almost any part of FreeCAD. It has a robot simulation module that allows you to study robot movements in a graphical environment. 

It is easy to get started if you have basic knowledge of the tools, as most of its tools are displayed on its interface. In addition, workbenches classify the tools on the interface for a highly responsive and uncluttered workspace. This software is suitable for product designers, engineers, architects, and educators. 

Designs on FreeCAD are simplified as a result of its intuitive interface. It uses an Open Inventor-based 3D Viewer to help you manage 3D scenes faster and with ease. With Open CASCADE Technology, FreeCAD allows for complex design specs for compound shapes. Furthermore, it can deliver additional functionalities by adding plugins without altering its core system due to the way it was built. 

With its 3D modeling features, you can customize every parametric to your specification. This software comes with a Path Support feature that allows you to create computer-aided manufacturing models. It is ideal for small businesses and enterprises. FreeCAD is multi-platform and compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. It also supports a wide variety of file formats. 

FreeCAD comes with a built-in integrated spreadsheet that allows you to create formula-based models and organize your workflow from a central location. In addition, scripting in FreeCAD gives you access to everything inside FreeCAD using standard Python code while the program is running. 

Using this software, you have permanent access to your original sketches. You can view sketches from different angles because of its user-friendly interface. Users can also go back to the initial sketch and modify it. 

Pricing

FreeCAD is free.

7. Creo

A 3D Printing Software for Product Design and Development

Creo is a 3D Printing Software for Product Design and Development

Creo helps you accelerate product innovation so that you can build better products faster. It has powerful functionalities to increase your team’s productivity. In addition, it is a cross-channel platform ideal for manufacturers, engineers, and designers to create 3D/2D models. 

It allows users to work with parts and assemblies by automatically loading the data needed when required. Users can bring their designs to life and make them more interactive by converting them to 3D. You can achieve this by using Creo Sketch and Creo Parametric. 

Users can make last-minute changes to their designs because of their flexibility. Teams can choose the tools that they want. With Creo, you can scale whenever you want to. It’s a parametric CAD software that integrates with third-party software. Add-ons and modules enhance the quality of the software

Creo is a versatile tool that allows users to manipulate sweets, blends, and extensions used to acquire tightly defined dimensions. You can directly open any design file from any CAD/CAM/CAE immediately and start work on it. Also, it supports 2D drafting, which means that you can switch between 3D models and 2D drafts.

With its sheet metal design feature, you can create sheet metal parts that are ready for manufacturing. This toolset allows users to bend and shape metal in ways that would be feasible in industrial manufacturing. 

This software supports iOS and Android and is used by designers. The models created contain all the data needed to define the product. It is scalable. 

Pricing

Creo offers a free plan and a 30-day free trial period to try it out before committing. There are five packages available. The Creo Design Essentials Plan costs $2,390 per one-year locked license. This plan has all the core functionalities tools.

The Creo Design Advanced Plan is suitable to get the functionality for prismatic and multi-surface milling, and it costs $5,890 per one-year locked license. The Creo Design Advanced Plus Plan costs ~$10,300 per one-year locked license. This plan has all the tools you require for your design.

The Creo Design Premium Plan includes extended collaboration abilities and Mathcad. It costs ~$14,375 per one-year locked license. With the Creo Design Premium Plus Plan, you get all the features of the previous plans plus more advanced simulation. It costs ~$20,000 per one-year locked license.

Creo Pricing plan
Source : Scan2cad

8. Solidworks

An Easy-to-use 3D CAD Solution

Solidworks is an Easy to use 3D CAD Solution

Solidworks is software for 3D printing that enhances the capabilities and workflows you use daily for design, documentation, and validation. It allows you to create and edit 3D part and assembly models and create 2D drawings that change automatically when design changes. It is known as one of the most popular commercial 3D software owned by Dassault Systemes.  

It is an easy-to-use 3D CAD solution that enables companies to reduce manufacturing costs, speed up product development, and improve product quality. With its intuitive product development tools, you can get your products out there in the market quickly. Its ease of use also allows you to easily edit designs at any point in the design process. 

Creating your design with fully integrated simulation and analysis tools will allow you to verify operation and performance. In addition, Solidworks will enable you to create powerful images and animations to communicate design intent and functionality. 

With built-in tutorials, designing is fast and hassle-free. It also offers various training courses that are flexible and allow customers to build a proper development path that addresses individual specific needs. 

Customer support is reliable and available across the full Solidworks portfolio. It uses parametric designs with which it develops drawing, part, and assembly. 

Solidworks offers a single collaboration product development environment that allows you to securely share data and collaborate at any time. 

Pricing

Solidworks offers customized pricing plans for students, entrepreneurs, and startups, academia, research, and commercial purposes. There are three packages available which are the Standard Plan, Professional Plan, and the Premium Plan. The Standard Plan users benefit from the ease of use and improved productivity.

The Premium Plan, which is the most popular plan, has all the advanced functionalities you need for your design. You can discuss with a sales expert for a custom on any of the plans. If you are a startup, you can get a free license. Students get their subscriptions at a discounted rate.

You can download a free trial of Solidworks to try it out before committing. This trial download is only available through resellers. Solidworks buyers can either purchase a license or a subscription. 

9. CATIA

A 3D Printing Tool for Analysis and Design

CATIA is a 3D Printing Tool for Analysis and Design

CATIA is an integrated suite of CAD, CAM, and CAE applications for digital product development that helps collaborative technology across the profession around its 3DEXPERIENCE system. It supports multiple stages of product development and unites 3D parametric features with 2D tools. 

Dassault Systemes developed this software, a French company that delivers 3D design, 3D digital mock-up, and product lifecycle management software solutions (PLM). It offers architects, engineers, and developers multi-discipline modeling and support for business processing.

It provides mechanical engineers with valuable insights into key factors of quality and performance early in the product development phase. In addition, with its mechanical design products, users can create parts in a highly intuitive environment. 

CATIA uses its bi-directionally associative feature to ensure that any modifications in the model are reflected in the drawing. This software is written in C++ and runs on Unix and Windows. It has workbenches or modules that contain all the tools needed to perform a specific task. 

Its part design module makes it possible to design intuitive and flexible 3D mechanical parts. The generative shape design module provides a large set of tools for creating and editing shape designs. Its assembly module ensures that all parts to form a machine or components are connected. Finally, the kinematic simulation module shows how a machine will move in the real world. 

With its built-in modification management feature, automation, which reduces the effect of changes in the manufacturing process is possible. 

Customer support is provided via email, phone, chats, video, and knowledgebase. All designs can be tracked and the software efficiently manages all data design. 

Pricing

CATIA’s pricing structure has the flexibility to meet your company’s requirements and is available on request, so you can call a sales expert to get a custom quote.

10. OpenSCAD

A Free and Script-only Based 3D Printing Tool for Creating 3D Models by Writing Code. 

OpenSCAD is a Free and Script only Based 3D Printing Tool for Creating 3D Models by Writing Code

OpenSCAD is a cost-effective solution with advanced tools used to create 3D CAD objects that are solid. Using its free 3D compiler, macOS, Windows, and Linux users can create solid ACAD objects. In addition, it is suitable for engineers as it requires adequate knowledge of descriptive language to operate it. 

Technologies that make it easy for OpenSCAD to create parametric designs are OpenGL, OpenCSG, Qt, and CGAL. 3D models can be read and built from different file formats. The software leverages script files and configurable parameters, making engineers in control of their design process and able to change any step in the modeling process. 

Designs can be adjusted and parametrized to suit varying needs through successive prototyping cycles. It also has reusable part libraries available. You can describe 3D objects as code and can preview structures as you write codes. This simply means that you’ll be building through word command rather than pictures. With its large number of plugins, you can perform a lot of advanced tasks. 

You can build 3D models using the constructive geometry and extrusion approach. OpenSCAD is simple, highly customizable, and easy to use. There are courses available to get enthusiasts who are new scale through.

This tool is more focused on the CAD aspect of 3D modeling. It can import 2D drawings and extrude them as 3D. It has a helpful community of designs and is ideal for beginners and professionals. 

Customer support is available via email. Since it is followed by a community of designers, it is constantly updated. 

Pricing

OpenSCAD is free.

11. Rhinoceros 3D

One of the Most Popular 3D Modeling Software with the Grasshopper Feature

Rhinoceros 3D is One of the Most Popular 3D Modeling Software with the Grasshopper Feature

Rhinoceros 3D is CAD software with a wide range of complex modeling tools that allows you to create shapes with precision and detail. It is fast as it does not require any special hardware. This software is ideal for architecture, CAD, jewelry, automotive, and graphic design. 

With the openNURBS(Non-Uniform Rational Basis Spline) kernel, you can work with true mathematically described precision curves. This software is compatible with most designs, CAM, and illustration programs. It can create, edit, analyze, document, render, animate, and translate NURBS curves, surfaces, and solids with no limits on complexity, degree, or size beyond your hardware. 

Tutorials are offered on this site to allow users to get the hang of its features quickly and easily. It is so easy to learn that you can focus on design and visualization without being distracted by the software.  

Its uninhibited free-form 3D modeling tools allow you to model any shape you can imagine. This software also allows you to read and repair meshes and challenging IGES files. It has an intuitive user interface. Rhino can create geometric or parametric designs and can be used to import and export drawings from and to other software. 

Grasshopper, a programming language is now a part of Rhino and provides a foundation for many third-party components from environmental analysis to robotic control. It is suitable for designers and architects. 

You can create high-quality 2D drawings and annotate with texts and dimensions and choose the layouts that you need to produce beautiful drawings in your company’s style. 

With its QuadRemesh feature, you can create a quad mesh from existing solids, meshes, and surfaces and is ideal for rendering, animations, FEA, and reverse-engineering. It is available for Windows, macOS, and iOS users. 

Pricing

Prices for Rhinoceros do not include taxes but include support and service releases. All licenses are permanent and do not expire. For commercial users, it costs €995 for a single user. Students and teachers can save up to 80%. It costs €195. 

Schools can purchase educational single-user licenses at a 90% discount. It costs €975 for a 30-user lab.

12. BlocksCAD

A Free 3D Printing Software Designed for the Educational Sector.

BlocksCAD is a Free 3D Printing Software Designed for the Educational Sector

BlocksCAD is a free 3D modeling software ideal for designers who are getting started before moving to professional software. You can learn coding and the concept of computer thinking by designing models that can be brought to life through 3D printing. Its intuitive interface makes it easy to use. It is academically oriented. 

It is available in a wide variety of languages and is used to educate students worldwide. The combination of its visual drag-and-drop feature with Chromebook’s popularity upholds coding as a highly understandable and fun topic. Therefore, students can learn the connection between code and build. It was designed specifically for elementary school-age kids. 

With its image editing feature, visualization skills are improved and make programming and math fun to learn. You can create any design that you can think of with this tool. This tool is used to teach students science, technology, engineering, art, and math. 

This software works like OpenSCAD but is more accessible and is fully compatible with OpenSCAD. It has YouTube tutorial videos to allow users to gain efficient knowledge. It is used to train users to be capable of using OpenSCAD. For those who want an entry into OpenSCAD and kids who want to go into 3D modeling, BlocksCAD is a good entry point. 

Your finished 3D model can be rendered for review, after which it is exported in OpenSCAD or STL format. In addition, it allows you to create valid OpenSCAD code with basic knowledge of the language.  

Pricing

BlocksCAD offers a free plan. However, its YouTube channel with tutorials costs $149 per year.

13. SketchUp Make

A 3D Modeling Software for Creating Designs Without Downloading

SketchUp Make is a 3D Modeling Software for Creating Designs Without Downloading

SketchUp 3D modeling platform is an easy-to-use platform with a fun 3D modeling program. SketchUp Make has been replaced with a web-based SketchUp platform called SketchUp Free. This SketchUp Free runs inside your browser, and the web interface is different from the desktop interface. It is for personal use only. 

Its customization features allow you to customize your designs to make them yours. Users can create basic designs with this software in interior designing, architecture, movies, and other fields. However, you can only use this version for one month, after which you would need to switch to a paid version. In addition, it allows the creation of 3D drawings in its offline mode. 

You can export the model you create as an STL file. After slicing your model, you can then send it to the 3D printer. SketchUp free offers a 10GB storage space in the cloud for easy project sharing. However, it is designed for personal use only, so you would not add extensions. 

It allows users to document 3D designs in 2D. Its immersive VR experience allows designers to simulate their designs before printing. 

With its wide range of available templates, users can create 3D designs. It maintains a good balance between usability and functionality and has an easy learning curve. There is a tutorial available to help users navigate. 

Pricing

The SketchUp software offers three pricing plans. The SketchUp Free Plan is available only on the web. With this plan, you get a set of basic tools and 10GB of cloud storage space. 

The SketchUp Shop license costs $119 per year and is ideal for DIY designers, woodworkers, and makers. This plan does not have a free trial, but a 14-day money-back guarantee is available. It is available only on the web and offers unlimited cloud storage space. 

The SketchUp Pro license is ideal for professionals, as it has all the features needed to get your job done. It costs $299 per year and is the most popular plan. There is discounted pricing for students, educators (free), and nonprofits. 

This plan works on desktops or laptops and the web and not on mobile devices, and you get a 30-day free trial period with no credit card required for users to try out its features before committing.

SketchUp Make Pricing Plan

14. Sculptris

A Sculpting 3D Printing Software with the Modeling Clay Concept

Sculptris is a Sculpting 3D Printing Software with the Modeling Clay Concept

Sculptris is a free virtual 3D modeling software that adopts the modeling clay concept. It is an ideal tool for creating statuettes such as comic characters and video games. Its dynamic tessellation feature raises the triangle resolution on the fly when needed to preserve detail. With this feature, you do not need to worry about model geometry.  

GoZ allows Sculptris to seamlessly integrate with ZBrush. This integration makes it possible for you to download and upload on the cloud. Also, sculpting on one side can automatically affect the other side symmetrically, allowing you to save time. It has an intuitive interface, making it easy to use. 

All this software does is sculpt, rather than working with polygons or shaping the models. It also allows you to work with various materials for simulation. 

It is a good option for beginners. Sculptors have paintbrushes and palettes that allow them to apply life-like colors to their creations. For sculptors looking to use ZBrush, another digital sculpting software from Pixologic, Sculptris is an excellent place to start. 

Sculptris does not stretch existing polygons to add volume to surfaces, rather, it adds new polygons for even distribution. 

Pricing

Sculptris is free, but if you seek more advanced features, you can opt for its counterpart, ZBrush.

15. OnShape

A Complete All-in-one Product Development Platform

OnShape is a Complete All in one Product Development Platform

OnShape is a cloud-based professional 3D CAD system that provides teams with instant access to the same CAD system and data. It is available on the web and Android and iOS devices, allowing you to view your designs on your smartphones. Its user-friendly interface will enable users to quickly draw, edit, and shape new objects.  

This tool allows you to add more features that make your sophisticated designs come to life. With its Extrude tools, you can create new material, add additional material, remove material, and create intersecting material. It can be used to create 2D drawings and 3D models. 

The files can be exported in STL, DWG, and DXT formats. You can store and share CAD data in the cloud. That it is cloud-based gives you a lot of storage space. It unites CAD, data management, collaboration tools, reporting, and real-time analytics. Also, it is available in different languages.

It is designed for designers, engineers, and manufacturers. Its end-to-end collaboration features make it compatible with various devices. 

Customer support is via live chat. With its workflow automation feature, you can automate tasks to make work faster and easier. You can track and analyze all activities, resources, and projects. 

With the OnShape document, you can sketch, build and assemble parts in the same document, keep all project-related information in one document, and can collaborate with many users in one document. OnShape is the only Software-as-a-Service product development platform that combines CAD, built-in data management, real-time collaboration tools, and business analytics. 

Pricing

OnShape has three paid plans. The Enterprise Plan is suitable for organizations that require best-in-class product development tools, customized workflows, role-based access control, and design analytics. You can contact sales experts for a custom quote.

The Professional Plan is ideal for small, medium, and large businesses that require a product development platform with CAD, release management, and data management. It costs $2,100 per user per year. With this plan, you get a free trial period when you can try out its features before committing. 

For single-seat users who require modern CAD tools with modest collaboration and data management needs, the Standard Plan, which costs $1,500 per user, per year is suitable. 

It also has a free plan called the OnShape Free. This plan is ideal for non-professional designers, students, and educators. 

OnShape Pricing Plan

16. Meshmixer

A Free 3D Printing Software for Working with Triangle Meshes

Meshmixer is a Free 3D Printing Software for Working with Triangle Meshes

Meshmixer is a free 3D sculpting Computer-Aided Design (CAD) program with an intuitive and responsive interface. It can help remove noise from 3D scanned models and also combine different mesh 3D models together to form a new 3D design and export to a 3D printable file. 

You can use Meshmixer for exporting and importing 3D files, and also preparing designs for 3D printing. Its supported formats are OBJ, STL, DAE, PLY, AMP, and WRL. If you don’t want to start sculpting from scratch, you can select parts in its archives that contain pre-made animals, human heads, and other shapes that you can mix together. 

With its Vertex Count feature, you can check how many vertices your design has by checking the bottom right corner of the screen. More vertices can cause models to 3D print slowly. It is available for Mac and Windows.  

This software is easy to navigate and you do not have to be an expert to use it. There are tons of tutorials available to get you started. Its mesh and mix features allow you to combine multiple models in many ways to cut meshes and easily join them together in a few clicks. That is, using its drag-and-drop tools, you can add different types of meshes. 

Meshmixer is available in three category groups. The edit tools category contains functionalities that modify the model. The analysis tools category contains functionalities that analyze the structure of the model and its physical properties. Finally, the print tools category contains functionalities that provide the final preparation for 3D printing your model.

Pricing 

Meshmixer offers a free plan.

17. 3D Slash

An Easy to Use 3D Printing Tool Ideal for Students

3D Slash is an Easy to Use 3D Printing Tool Ideal for Students

3D Slash has easy-to-use 3D modeling tools as it is specifically built for kids and beginners. It offers Empty Mode which provides users with an empty grid that they can fill with small building blocks. Also, its text mode allows users to enter basic texts into 3D Slash and then select from its wide range of fonts and bold scripts. 

It is available as an app on Windows, Raspberry pi, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. You can access it both offline and online. In addition, there are a plethora of color palettes available to paint your 3D models so that once your object is ready, you can download the STL file for local use.

With its provided API, developers can integrate their developed software into products. However, this tool is most suitable for non-designers. Using its simple building-block concept, you can easily create and design 3D models. It also has a logo design maker that imports an image and creates a 3D model out of it. 

This software is compatible with VR headsets; therefore, you can easily present your designs. It allows you to engrave texts and pictures on your designs. Teachers can create multiple student accounts to monitor their activities in real-time. With 3D Slash, you get high-resolution designs. 

Customer support is available via email. Its text mode feature allows users to type in their text and convert it instantly to 3D. Also, its logo mode feature allows anyone to create a 3D logo using a simple image. The tool is designed using advanced technology. 

Pricing

3D Slash offers a free forever plan. With this plan, you get the web version and online storage. It offers three paid plans. The Premium Plan costs $2 per month and a total of $24 if billed annually. 

The Schools Plan starts at $12 per month. Pricing is based on the number of accounts that you can handle. This plan is ideal for teachers and students.

With the Professionals Plan, you get all the features you require to build our design. Pricing starts at $20 per month. This plan is ideal for enterprises and contributors. 

3D Slash Pricing plan

18. Simplify3D

A Software for 3D Printing with Multi-material Capabilities

Simplify3D is a Software for 3D Printing with Multi material Capabilities

Simplify3D is an all-in-one 3D printing slicing software that allows you to enhance your 3D by configuring a wide range of functionalities. It is one of the most common slicers used in hobby 3D printing. Its sequential printing feature ensures that you optimize how multiple parts are constructed. It is compatible with Mac, Linux, and Windows. 

This software gives you control over your print settings, making it easier to create high-quality 3D prints. It is quick and easy to set up. One integrated software suite contains everything that you need to print high-quality parts. 

You can watch a detailed animation of your build sequence. With this software, you can also preview tools that estimate print time, filament usage, and cost. It translates your model into instructions for your 3D printer. 

Using its dual extrusion wizard feature, you can streamline the setup of dual extrusion projects. In addition, its intelligent toolpath generation feature has a bridging algorithm that can adjust the scanning direction for small gaps based on the model topology. 

It allows you to simulate your prints in advance so that you can see what your 3D printer will be doing without wasting filaments. You can also create better support structures to help you get the surface quality that your print needs to create complex designs. 

Simplify3D has the resources that you can use to improve ideas for 3D printing. It has a new variety of patterns that allow users to configure the interior aspect of their part just the way they want it. Its integration with various 3D printing companies ensures that the software is compatible with the latest 3D printing hardware. 

Customer support is reliable and has supported a lot of customers to improve their print quality. 

Pricing

Simplify3D costs $149. With this license, you get extensive support resources, full-time professional support staff, the latest and most significant updates, and instant online delivery. 

Simplify3D Pricing Plan

19. Blender

A Free 3D Modeling and VFX Software

Blender is a Free 3D Modeling and VFX Software

Blender is a free and open-source 3D printing modeling software with features not constrained to just modeling but also include film and video, animation, gaming, video editing, and more. It is designed for advanced designers looking to create precise models. It is not a CAD program. 

It has a lot of add-ons that will help users to obtain more functionalities with 3D modeling. You can then add these functionalities through Python scripts. Blender’s toolset is required for creating, modifying animated films, 3D printing models, and arts, all for free. Also, with its animation features, you can add motion to characters with the help of keys. 

You can perform various actions like splicing, speeding, cutting, and slowing with its video editing features. This software is feature-rich and intuitive. Its object tracking features allow you to import raw footage, track the footage, and view camera movements in 3D scenes.

Users can combine 2D and 3D in the viewport. In addition, the 3D creation suite provides a Python API that helps to customize the layout, colors, sizes, and fonts of the interface. Finally, Cycles is a feature that allows users to add more realistic lighting to their scenes. 

Using its game engine feature, users can create 3D games. With its built-in compositor, users will have access to a library of nodes. This library could come in handy when users are creating color grading, vignettes, and camera effects. 

Pricing 

Blender has a free forever plan.

20. OctoPrint

A Free and Open Source 3D Printing System

OctoPrint is a Free and Open Source 3D Printing System

OctoPrint is an open-source 3D printing software that gives you control of your 3D printer and links your 3D printer to your local network so that you can use any device to manage the web interface. In addition, it has a vast plugin system that allows users to receive push notifications, collect statistics, and many more. 

You can slice an STL file from the Pi by sending over the STL file while the printer takes care of the rest. Through a single interface, you can send several G-code files to various machines. It is usually installed on a Raspberry Pi. Since it is compatible with cameras, it will allow you to monitor a print job in real-time to know if everything is working correctly. 

Using Cura engine, a slicer, OctoPrint will allow you to correctly cut your 3D model in layers easily readable by your printer. You can customize this slicer as you wish. This software is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux. 

Spaghetti detective, a plugin, alerts you to stop printing automatically when there is a failed 3D print anywhere to stop wasting your filaments. This plugin also works with phone devices and provides secure internet access. 

Another excellent plugin is the octolapse that allows you to create timelapse videos of the printing process. This can be done with a camera connected to the Raspberry Pi and Octoprint. Octoprint stores these videos online, and you can also download them. 

Multiple 3D Printer Control feature, you can monitor multiple 3D printers on a Raspberry Pi. 

Pricing

OctoPrint offers a free plan. It also provides two paid Plans. The Pro Plan costs $5 per month. With this plan, you can only connect two printers. The Pro+ Plan costs $10 per month, and you can connect an unlimited number of printers. 

What is 3D Printing Software?

3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, creates a physical three-dimensional object from a digital model. When compared to more traditional processes, 3D printing excels in speed, accuracy, cost-effectiveness. It can print an object layer by layer of material directly from a computer-aided design (CAD), resulting in less material wastage. 

With 3D printing, designers can create complex designs in hours, making companies move through design cycles quickly and efficiently. The most commonly used materials for 3D printing are plastics, resins, ceramics, and metal alloys. 

You can create your 3D printing from scratch or select from a 3D library. Some 3D printing software has features that enable you to export your model as a printable file. Once you have a printable file, you can then prepare it for your 3D printer. These files can be sent to your 3D printer via USB, SD, or Wi-Fi. 

It is used in almost all industries you could think of, including aerospace, automotive, medical, rail, robotics, among others. There are various types of 3D printing technologies. In sinistering technology, the material is heated to create high-resolution objects but not to a melting point. 

The melting technology enables powder bed fusion, electron beam melting, and direct energy deposition to use lasers, electric arcs, and electron beams to melt materials together and print objects. Stereolithography technology uses the correct light source to interact with the material selectively.

Benefits of Using 3D Printing Software

3D printing has a lot of benefits when compared to traditional manufacturing processes.

1. Speed

3D printing can take just hours to complete, unlike traditional manufacturing that takes days, weeks, or even months. It’s not just the manufacture of the part that is fast, but also the design process by creating STL or CAD files ready to be printed. This is possible with the help of rapid prototyping.

Consumers want products that work well and meet their demands, and it is up to manufacturers to offer that. To get the ball rolling on their new products, manufacturing companies can quickly design and build prototypes. From a prototype to the final product, 3D printing tests ideas and designs quickly.

Another factor that makes 3D printing a time saver is that you can import files directly from a CAD program and use it to print parts.

2. Cost

You can get 3D printing software with all the functionalities that you need to create your design at a very affordable rate. Furthermore, since it only uses the number of materials required for the parts themselves, the cost of getting materials will reduce to avoid wastage. Therefore, you can use 3D printing while producing small quantities. 

Creating new tools to replace broken ones can save time. Therefore, saving time to replace tools can result in reduced costs. Compared to machining prototypes, 3D printing is inexpensive and quick allows for each design modification to be completed at a much efficient rate.

3. Ease of Access

3D printing is becoming more accessible by the day. It allows any user, even those with limited CAD experience, to edit designs how they like and create customized new parts. That is, any design can be created in a wide range of different materials. 

There is software with specialized tools to help you build a 3D model efficiently. Once you upload a 3D file, your model will be delivered to your doorstep in no time. As 3D printing allows for freedom of design, you can recreate all your ideas to transform them into actual objects. 

3D pens are being produced, which also serves the purpose of a 3D printer; this makes it even more accessible. Its user-friendly and intuitive interface also plays a major in its being easily accessible. This technology is also environment-friendly as it results in improved fuel efficiency from using lightweight 3D printed parts.

You do not have to print in bulk unless required, and this helps to save space and cost. Instead, the 3D design files are stored in a virtual library and are printed using a 3D model at your convenience. 

4. Unlimited Use of Shapes and Geometry

With the introduction of 3D printing, the challenge of manufacturing count on molds and cutting technologies to produce the desired shapes has been overcome with the proper materials. You can now create parts of great geometric complexity with any 3D printer.

5. Heated Bed

A heated bed ensures that the foundation of your design is well-formed and solid. Finding the right temperature differs between filaments.

What Features Should You Look For in 3D Printing Software?

There are several features to look out for if you’re considering getting a 3D printer. The intended use of your 3D printer will help you identify which features are most suitable for you.

1. Dual Extruder System

Extrusion involves the melting and placing of material in layers on top of each other. You should consider the number of extruders available when choosing a 3D printer. For multi-colored operations, you would need to go for the 3D printer with multiple extrusions because not all 3D printers can perform multi-colored operations.

The single extrusion is ideal for beginners, but the dual extrusion is most suitable for more complex models or multi-colored parts.

2. Print Speed

The speed of the 3D printer you are getting is an essential factor to consider. You would not want to spend so much time on a project that takes less time. A high-speed and high-resolution printer is ideal. The resin printer has a slower printing speed than the FDM printer. For large prints, fast speeds impact quality. On the other hand, too slow printing may cause stringing.

3. Build Area and Size

The build area is the maximum size of an object that the printer can build. It is ideal to go for a 3D printer with a large build area which should be enough for most printed parts. You should know the size of the object you want to print and if it can match the print bed. 

Since several objects can be printed in one print job, the print bed size can also enable you to make a more product-oriented solution. You can cut a model into multiple pieces and glue them together after their print to allow you to produce parts larger than your 3D printer’s build area. 

The larger the build platform, the more precise the printer must be made to maintain proper levels to make good prints.

Overview of the 3D Printing Workflow

The 3D printing workflow includes a series of stages, from the idea to the fabrication of the final part using additive manufacturing technologies. It starts with a 3D model you can opt to create from the ground or download from a 3D library. 

3D printers use a layering method by working from the ground up and pile up layer after layer until the desired object is created. They are flexible with what they can print. 

The 3D Modeling Software

The first step in 3D printing is a 3D model. Without this model, an object cannot be manufactured. In 3D modeling software, a CAD model is created. You can obtain a CAD model through reverse engineering by using a 3D scanner. 

The CAD model has to be compatible with the 3D printing design to be used for 3D printing. This modeling software is essential in the dental industry, where labs use the 3D modeling software to design teeth aligners that fit the individuals. 

It is also vital in the space industry, where you can use this modeling software to design some of the parts of a rocketship.

Slicing the Software

The second step in the 3D printing process is the slicing software. It involves converting the CAD into a file that the printer can read. You can import the CAD model into slicing software once it is created. You can preview a visual representation of how the print will appear on the built plate in some slicers to orient it for the best result properly. 

This slicing software controls a range of parameters such as temperature, speed, layer height, and much more, resulting in better 3D printing output. Slicers tell the 3D printer where to fill a model.

The 3D Printing Process

3D print is the final step to complete the 3D printing process. The file from the slicer software is then sent to the 3D printer for the actual printing process. With just the click of a button, the 3D printer will start printing the object in a layer-by-layer form until the object is complete and ready for retrieval. 

It will print out models depending on specific instructions given by the slicer program, using different methods, depending on the type of printer used. 

The 3D printer acts in the same manner as an inkjet printer in the direct 3D printing process. This process takes a few hours for simple prints and weeks for much larger projects. Examples of materials that a printer uses to recreate an object include acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), carbon fiber filaments, conductive filaments, flexible filaments, metal filaments, and wood filaments.

3D Printing Software FAQ

Why use 3D printing software?

There are various reasons people use 3D printing software tools. It allows for the printing of more flexible designs than the traditional manufacturing processes. You can also use 3D printing because of its rapid prototyping technology. This technology helps designers to create designs in the shortest time possible. 

Another essential reason to use 3D printing software tools is that they are cost-effective. This is so because they do not require expensive machines and experienced machine operators to run them.

With these software tools, you do not require a lot of space to stock inventory. On the contrary, it saves space as you do not need to print in bulk unless needed because the design files are stored in a virtual library.

Who uses 3D printing software?

3D printing was first accessible to a few high-tech industries, but now it is available to a wider variety of businesses. For example, the automotive industry has been using 3D printing for decades now. It reduces design and lead times on new car models. It is also used in aerospace for creating lightweight space resulting in considerable fuel savings. 

Jewelry designers use the 3D model to create pieces of jewelry from resin and wax. These models can also be modified, which makes this process cheap and flexible. Industries that produce eyewear and glasses also benefit from 3D printing’s capability for customization. 

Eyewear designs intended to give customers comfort can be rapidly prototyped using 3D and produced at low costs. 

Dentistry has been one of the most popular users of 3D printing. Dental 3D printers use resin-based 3D processes like digital light processes to create indications like a mole for clear aligners, dental models, and surgical guides with accuracy and lower cost.

What does 3D printing software cost?

The costs of 3D printing software tools vary. While there are tools you can use at no cost and with unique features, you can use others for a fee and with more advanced features. Some 3D printing software tools also offer free trial periods when you can try out their features before committing. 

3D printing software tools that offer free plans are TinkerCAD, MeshLab, FreeCAD, Sculptris, Meshmixer, and Blender. In addition, SketchUp provides a 14-day money-back guarantee. Prices range from as low as $2 for 3DSlash to as high as $20,000 per year for Creo.

What are the best 3d printing ideas?

‘Best’ is relative when it comes to 3D printing ideas. You should choose the 3D printer that best suits your use case. If you are looking to create solid 3D CAD objects, it is advisable to use the OpenSCAD software as it is more focused on the CAD aspect of modeling. 

The perfect tool to create geometric or parametric designs is Rhinoceros 3D. BlocksCAD is explicitly designed for students to teach them science, technology, engineering, math, and  art.

Speed Up Your Product Prototype Development with 3D Printing Software Tools

Are you looking for an alternative to the traditional manufacturing process? Then, 3D printing is the answer. With 3D printing software tools, you can speed up your product prototype development. Different 3D printing software tools are applicable for various use cases. 

For sculptors looking to use ZBrush for digital sculpting, Sculptris is an ideal tool to start with as it will give them the essential knowledge that they require to scale. If you want an entry into OpenSCAD and want 3D modeling, BlocksCAD is a good entry point. 

SketchUp Made offers a 14-day money-back guarantee on its plan. In addition, CATIA and Solidworks allow you to contact sales experts for a custom quote on their plans. Software tools that offer a free trial period are Autodesk Fusion 360, Autodesk AutoCAD, Creo, Solidworks, and Onshape. 

If you are a start-up company or a small business, it is advisable to go for TinkerCAD, FreeCAD, or OnShape. Students and teachers use BlocksCAD and 3DSlash.

Critically analyze every tool to make the right decision.

Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.