25 Best 3D Printing Software (Free & Paid)

Last Updated on February 15, 2022 by Vasco Lourenço

The recent years have seen 3D printing software storm the market with extraordinary capabilities and seamless features.

You might think everything has been a bed of roses all through for this technology giant. But the software’s advancement journey has been a bumpy road to its current success.

Although the 3D printing concept was initially described in 1945 by Murray Leinster in his short story, “Things Pass,” as the magnetic plastic constructor, the first 3D printing equipment came into existence in the 1980s.

At the time, only a limited number of people could afford the equipment. Luckily, 3D printers have evolved, enabling most people to enter the new world of 3D modeling.

With the many 3D printing software options now available, determining the most suitable has become a challenge.

But not anymore. In this article, I’ll be discussing the best free and paid 3D printing software tools based on pricing, CAD features (Computer Aided Design), modeling, rendering support, and more.

What is the Best 3D Printing Software?

The available software for the 3D printing process varies depending on their features, price, and technicality levels. Some are better suited for beginners, while others are for advanced users.

With that said, here is the list of the top-ranking 3D printing software:

1. Autodesk AutoCAD

Best 2D and 3D CAD Software with Industry Specific Toolsets and Design Automation.

Autodesk AutoCAD

Developed by Autodesk, AutoCAD is a 3D printing software ideal for professionals like architects and engineers. Its versatile 3D printing tools enable you to create exceptional 3D models and precise drawings.

Besides, the software allows you to include annotations to drawings, import data from PDFs, and transfer object data to tables.

The best part is that when you do an AutoCAD subscription, you access tools for both Mac and Windows.

Key Features

  • Task Automation – The software compares drawings, adds blocks, counts objects, creates schedules, to mention but a few.
  • Workspace Customization – It has APIs (Application Programming Interface) and add-on apps.
  • Ability to Annotate, Draft, and Design – Aided by the 2D geometry and 3D models with solids, surfaces, and mesh objects.
  • Perfect Virtualization – Enables enhanced walkthroughs and visuals.
  • User-friendly Interface – Offers fast and super flexible interface reducing coordination errors.
  • Guarantee Fidelity and Compatibility – The TrustedDWG technology in AutoCAD enables compatibility for your DWGs.

Autodesk AutoCAD is a perfect choice for professionals looking to create outstanding 3D models and precise drawings.

Pricing

AutoCAD price

The subscription plan costs $220 paid monthly, or you can opt for an annual payment of $1,775. Alternatively, you can pay for a 3-year plan, at once for $5,060.

2. Autodesk Fusion 360

An Outstanding 3D Printer with Integrated CAM, CAD, PCB, and CAC Software.

Autodesk Fusion 360

Autodesk fusion 360 is a robust CAD software that seamlessly blends operating design, manufacturing, and engineering benefits into a single platform.

At the same time, the software leverages cloud technology power while streamlining the process of product development and ensuring a speedy delivery of the premium product.

This 3D software is best suited for designers, mechanical engineers, and machinists.

Key Features

  • Mac and Windows Compatibility – The software is not limited to specific operating systems.
  • Direct Editing of Model Fixtures and Existing Features – The integrated CAD and CAM software tools aid the process.
  • Fabrication and Prototype Capabilities – The feature prepares your 3D printing designs as prototypes within the tool’s print settings.
  • User-friendly Interface – The intuitive interface helps shorten the learning curve.
  • Design and Manufacturing Support Tools – Enhances functions, forms, and aesthetics of resulting products.
  • Seamless 3D Simulation Software – This feature creates 3D models and stimulates them in a single software tool. It further allows you to test your 3D designs early enough at the development stage. That way, you get to discover costly flaws and determine product performance in time.

Pricing

Autodesk Fusion 360 price

The monthly package goes for $60. Alternatively, you can opt for an annual payment of $495, which enables you to save up to 31% compared to the monthly price. Another option is paying $1,410 every three years.

3. Autodesk Maya

Best 3D Printing Software for Creating Expansive Worlds.

Autodesk Maya

Over the years, Maya has stood out as one of the best professional 3D software. Its ability to create blockbuster-worthy effects and realistic characters are unmatchable and worth the investment.

In addition, the intuitive modeling tools of the software shapes 3D scenes and objects, creating realistic effects from cloth simulations and explosions. With Maya’s powerful tools, you get to iterate faster, which gives you more time to be creative and beat deadlines.

Key Features

  • 3D Animation – The feature enables fast playback of animations with fewer playblasts. Its nonlinear editor allows you to create premium animation edits.
  • Motion Graphics – Through this, you can design versatile motion animations using the procedural node networks. On the other hand, the 3D type helps you create title sequences, flying logos, and other projects.
  • Pipeline Integration – Maya’s python 3 enables you to write plug-ins and scripts. On the other hand, the scene assembly tool makes it easy to create large, complex worlds.
  • Rigging – The software can set up a character from a skeleton and yield life-like performances. Using skinning, you can bind any modeled surface into a skeleton object.
  • Universal Scene Description Workflows – With this, you get seamless imports and exports, lighting speed, fully customizable open-source, highly customizable features, among other options.

Pricing

Autodesk Maya price

The subscription options for Maya are $215 monthly, $1,700 paid annually, and $4,845 after every three years.

4. Autodesk Inventor

The Leading Grade 3D CAD Software with a Complete Set of Engineering and Design Tools.

Autodesk Inventor

If you are looking for professional product simulation tools, mechanical designs, and documentation, this is the 3D software you need. The Autodesk inventor has 3D printer programs that enhance product performance, lower repetitive tasks, and boost collaboration.

Key Features

  • Integrated Toolset – The tools enhance frame design, sheet metal, machine design, presentations, and more.
  • Trusted DWG Compatibility – Embeds manufacturing information into the 3D model directly.
  • Parametric Modeling – The software has an intuitive user interface to help you focus on design while creating and editing your 3D models.
  • Shared View Collaboration – You can engage other key stakeholders on the design of choice from any device.
  • Drawing Creation – The software provides tools to create accurate, clear, and detailed drawings for manufacturing.
  • Design Configurations – You can create new arrangements for your designs.

Pricing

Autodesk Inventor price

Buy a monthly Inventor subscription at $275, an annual package at $2,190, and a 3-year option at $6,240.

5. Ultimaker Cura

One of the Most Popular 3D Printing Software.

Ultimaker Cura

You can never go wrong with the Ultimaker Cura. The software is in use by millions of users and is one of the most popular 3D printing software worldwide. Besides, Cura is compatible with almost all 3D printers in the market.

Key Features

  • Intent Profiles – With this feature, you can print particular applications at the touch of a button.
  • Responsive User Interface and Experience – Enable you to have a smooth 3D printing experience.
  • Recommended Profiles – They guarantee reliable 3D printing results.
  • Custom Mode – The feature gives you over 400 settings for granular control.
  • Regular Updates – It constantly enhances features, giving you new options now and then.
  • Compatibility with Formats, like OBJ, 3MF, STL, and X3D – Cura blends well with these formats and works well with other digital images in various extensions.

Pricing

You can download the Ultimaker Cura software Essential plan for free from its official website.

Alternatively, you can also opt for any of the other two plans; the Professional and the Excellence plan.

Ultimaker Professional pricing starts from $50/month and Excellence from $1,000/month.

6. SOLIDWORKS

Excellent 3D Printing Software Choice for Powerful Functionality.

SOLIDWORKS

With SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD, you will dramatically boost how you create and manufacture products. The software provides an easy-to-learn interface with shortened product development time, improved quality, and reduced costs.

Key Features

  • Advanced Automation – SOLIDWORKS premium streamlines the product development process, accelerating the design-to-manufacturing process at every stage. It further enables virtual product simulation, documentation development, design validation, to mention but a few.
  • Builds a Better Bottom Line – The software develops quick optimized designs for durability and functionality.
  • Integrated Dynamic Costing and Quoting Capabilities – This feature instantly assesses the design impact and validates designs about project standards.
  • Boost Teamwork and Collaboration – The SOLIDWORKS professional puts teamwork and collaboration at the top of the entire manufacturing process.
  • Reverse Engineering and Validation tools – Make it easy to create 3D models.

Pricing

SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD prices are not exclusively on the website. But you can contact their support desk to request the subscription costs for your specific needs, whether commercial, academic, students and makers, entrepreneurs & startups, or DELMIAWorks.

7. Cinema 4D

The Leading Software for Computer Animation.

Cinema 4D

If you need intuitive 3D software with an enhanced user interface, new modern skin, and a robust preset system, the Cinema 4D will serve you best. The software is one of the best in professional 3D modeling, simulation, animation, and rendering solutions.

Key Features

  • Enhanced User Interface – With the modern spin on CAD’s interface, you only see what is vital and enables you to focus more on your artwork.
  • Capsules – The feature enables any person to tap into the flexibility and power of the Cinema 4D’s Scene Node system.
  • Polygonal Modeling Tools – Cinema 4D has a complete toolset for polygonal modeling, making it easy to craft most things from creatures to cars.
  • Volume Modeling – With this feature, you get a procedural way to develop complex objects through a combination of basic shapes using Boolean-type operations.
  • Enables Sculpting – You can use sculpting tools to create your organic models.
  • Texturing – Using the software’s material system, you can create photorealistic materials.
  • Character Animation – Cinema 4D gives you various reliable and easy-to-use animation tools to make it easy for you to animate life-like creatures and characters.

Pricing

The monthly subscription varies based on the plan you’re choosing.

  • FORGER plan goes for €1.99/month.
  • UNIVERSE for €33.21/month.
  • RED GIANT COMPLETE for €89.79/month.
  • CINEMA 4D for €103.32/month.
  • MAXON ONE plan goes for €170.97/month.

8. Modo

Most Intuitive 3D Printing Software for Creative Exploration.

Modo

Developed by foundry, Modo is a robust 3D modeling, texturing, and rendering toolset that empowers the artist to be creative without getting through technical hoops.

Key Features

  • Various Modeling options – The software offers direct modeling, procedural modeling, UV workflows, and sculpting.
  • Mpath and AMD ProRenders – These renderers enable you to create photorealistic and high-quality renders with a lot of ease.
  • Node-based Rigging System – This feature enables you to create, manage, edit, and reuse complex character rigs.
  • Highly Customizable User Interface – You can use your creativity to customize your software to your liking.
  • Robust Software Development Interfaces – Ensures a smooth workflow.

Pricing

Subscribe to a single user license for individual professionals at $68 per month and $689 per year. Upgrading the existing single-user licenses is $462 per year. You obtain the education, business, and enterprise subscription prices upon request.

9. CATIA

The #1 Software for 3D Printer Programs.

CATIA

Initially, the 3D software came intending to counter the internal needs of Dassault Aviation. But as time went by, CATIA gained massive popularity because of its multi-platform suite.

And that led many users to opt for the software. Nonetheless, the powering of its 3DEXPERIENCE platform is by Dassault systems.

Key Features

  • Inclusive and Integrated Product Development Platform – The feature allows you to manage and control the entire product development process by leveraging powerful specialist applications.
  • First-class 3D Modeling and Simulation Capabilities – CATIA optimizes every user’s effectiveness for occasional and experienced users.
  • Drawing and Modification Tools – The tools help you develop mechanical components, design complex models, and aid in the assembling process.
  • Advanced Tools for Engineers – Enhance modeling, integrate simulation, and analyze physical processes.
  • Global Collaboration Capacity – The software enables remote access via the cloud. It also gives you a platform to share your requirements or designs directly with manufacturers, engineers, or parts developers.

The 3D printing software is a perfect tool for the aerospace, machine, and automotive industry.

Pricing

CATIA gives you an initial free trial. Contact the software service providers for a quote for the paid package of your choice.

10. Creo

The Revolutionary Software Choice for Additive Manufacturing.

Creo

Creo, designed by the Parametric Technology Corporation, is among the world-leading software in product design. The 3D printing giant offers exceptional capabilities in simulation and 3D models.

Key Features

  • 3D Conceptualization – The feature enables users to bring life into their designs while enhancing a seamless integration.
  • Easy to Operate Work Assembly – When the need arises, this 3D software automatically loads data, making it easy for graphic designers to operate all the 3D printing programs.
  • Availability of Multiple Tools – The modeling software has various tools to enable designers to create stunning designs.
  • Offers Intuitive Modeling Support – You can use the feature to develop highly detailed complex models.
  • Seamless Data Generation Support – This fastens data flow and makes collaboration among graphic designers seamless.
  • Efficient Simulation of 3D Designs – Users have to leverage the software’s augmented reality capabilities to stimulate their designs.

Pricing

Creo comes in five design packages: Design Essentials, Design Advanced, Design Advanced Plus, Design Premium, and Design Premium Plus. The 3D software packages start at $2,550. But before you make your purchase, Creo gives you a 30-day free trial.

11. Rhinoceros 3D

One of the First Choices for 3D Modeling and Printing.

Rhinoceros 3D

Rhinoceros 3D is a new modeling software technology that works both on Windows and Mac. This versatile 3D modeler uses NURB, a precise mathematical model that enables users to manipulate points, curves, surfaces, solids, and meshes in any manner.

Alongside that, Rhino offers stunning design options to graphic designers.

Key Features

  • Compatibility – Rhino is well-matched with hundreds of CAM, CAD, and CAE rendering and animation products.
  • Coordinated User Interface – The modeling software has a customizable user workspace and icons. You can also customize its transparent toolbars, pop-up toolbar, and offer multiple monitor support.
  • Model Creation Tools – These tools include Rhino7, solids, meshes, curves, surfaces, and points.
  • Leverage of History Recording – The software allows you to edit input curves of an existing design and update the object.
  • Display of Control Points on the 3D Model – Through this, you can easily manipulate your designs to fit the requirements.
  • File Import Capabilities – Rhino allows you to bring in files from several other sources, including SOLIDWORKS, AutoCAD, DXF, STEP, IGES, SketchUp, to mention but a few.
  • 3D Data Capturing Capability – The 3D software supports large point clouds, making it possible to store huge files. Its 64-bit support and enhanced graphic co-processors make working with large point clouds easy. Besides, the software supports LiDAR, which captures 3D terrain data.

Pricing

The Rhino 7 for Windows and Mac goes for €995 for a single user. To upgrade, you will spend €595.

12. 3D Slash

The World’s Leading 3D Printing Software Integrated with Google Drive.

3D Slash

The 3D Slash software brings to the table premium features to make your 3D modeling and printing seamless. The modeling software uses a straightforward approach, making it easy to use. Its unique interface and advanced features make 3D model modeling fast and efficient.

If you are less of a technical person or a beginner, this platform is for you.

Key Features

  • Unique User Interface – The software uses perfect tools for children and non-designers, making it compelling and fun like a building game.
  • Export gITF Format, Compatible with Facebook – This new feature enables you to export the binary version and post on Facebook through drag and drop.
  • Google Drive Integration – It’s another new feature to help you invent a new product, logo, or office arrangement. This feature further manages a project that requires you to get ideas from CAD software experts, testers, or product managers over 3D design.
  • VR Mode – You can design in 3D and view your creation or object in virtual reality.
  • High-Definition Mode – Offers precise editing and modeling of 3D models.
  • Text and Logo Mode – The text mode feature allows users to type text and instantly convert it to 3D. You can use the logo mode to create a 3D logo using any simple image.

Pricing

3D Slash offers both free and paid premium subscription plans. The paid premium plan starts from as low as $2 per month and is billed annually for a total of $24. Schools and professionals’ plans start from $12 and $20/month, respectively.

13. SketchUp

The Best All-In-One 3D Printing Software.

SketchUp

If you need a versatile 3D printing software with features that enable you to design almost everything, from simple to complex objects, SketchUp has your back. The Trimble Inc-owned software caters to both beginners and advanced users.

Its modeling tools suite enhance workflows in countless industries, including woodworking, engineering, interior design, film, construction, and more.

Key Features

  • Compatibility – Allows you to export your 3D models in several file formats, including VRML, FBX, and 3DS.
  • Easy to Follow Commands – You can strategically find these commands at the program’s large icon.
  • 2D Support – This feature boosts the versatility of the modeling software.
  • Customizable Palettes – Enables you to navigate and use the modeling tools smoothly.
  • Well-crafted User Interface – It offers a consistent user experience across all platforms.
  • Easy Learning Curve – Users access templates and other learning materials that guide them through the 3D modeling and printing procedure.
  • Customization of the 3D Workspace- SketchUp delivers to your doorstep hundreds of professionally developed extensions to aid your workplace customization.
  • Collaboration Capability – Helps you to create an efficient 3D community.

Pricing

SketchUp offers a basic free version. You can also get a paid package with advanced features.

For personal use:

  • SketchUp Shop: $119 per year.
  • SketchUp Pro: $299 per year.

The pricing plan for professional use is:

  • Shop: $119 per year.
  • Pro: $299 per year.
  • Studio: $699 per year.

The higher education plan is $55/yr for students and $55/yr for educators.

14. Onshape

The Leading 3D Platform to Connect with Design Stakeholders.

onshape

Are you looking for a platform that will enable you to connect with all stakeholders and get their ideas on your 3D design?

OnShape gives you that. Its secure and unified cloud workspace creates room for your product development team to spend more on designing and less time on software hitches.

Key Features

  • IP Protection and Risk Mitigation – OnShape’s database eliminates security risks, such as data breaches, unauthorized duplication, or accidental sharing.
  • Collaboration Capabilities – With this software, you can edit your designs simultaneously with other stakeholders while viewing changes in real-time. You can also share the design data with the team.
  • Automated Workflow – You can automate workflows to manage and release drawings, imported filers, and assemblies.
  • Self-developed Integrations – The software’s robust REST API helps you design your OnShape integrations.
  • Inbuilt CAD Program Data Version – Eliminates the hassles of copying software licenses or files.
  • Cloud Storage – You can save plenty of storage space through this feature.
  • Compatibility – OnShape is compatible with most devices and platforms, including smartphones, desktops, and tablets.

Pricing

The professional OnShape subscription price is $2,100 for every user per year. Its standard option goes for $1,500 for every user per year, while the enterprise plan is available on demand. You can request a free trial before paying for your first subscription.

What is the Free Best 3D Printing Software?

Below is a list of the best free 3D printing software available on the market.

1. OpenSCAD

The #1 Free 3D CAD Software Modeler for Programmers.

OpenSCAD

OpenSCAD is a reliable and highly efficient open-source software platform, perfect for developing premium 3D models. The modeling software has an easy learning curve and offers many advanced drawing tools.

This 3D tool serves professionals working on elaborate and complex projects. Its intuitive design also comes in handy for programmers and coders. The free software is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux/UNIX.

Key Features

  • Broad Technical Drawing Module – Helps you to handle complicated projects while enabling you to leverage various dimensions and viewing angles.
  • Modular Architecture – Widens the scope of your architectural designs to suit your preferences.
  • Computer-Aided Manufacturing Capabilities (CAM) with Path Support – The feature allows you to develop super detailed manufacturing parts prior to their mass production.
  • Robot Simulation Module – Optimizes automated manufacturing using customized robotic movements.
  • Sketcher Drafting Kit – Enables you to create models and transfer them directly to your printer. You don’t have to re-adjust the models before sending them to the printer.
  • Highly-detailed 3D Modeling Platform – customizes the parametric models to meet your specifications.
  • Integrated Spreadsheet – The feature lets you develop formula-based models and control your workflow from a dominant location.

Pricing

The FreeCAD open-source software is free for all its users.

2. BRL-CAD

The #1 Open Source 3D Solid Modeling System.

BRL-CAD

Proven and trusted by the US military for over 20 years, BRL-CAD has been serving as the primary tri-service solid modeling CAD software system for modeling US military weapons systems.

This powerful open-source cross-platform is ideal for many operating systems, including Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, BSD, and Windows.

BRL-CAD software is exceptional in interactive geometry editing, system performance analysis, high-performance ray tracing for geometric analysis and rendering, geometry libraries for application developers, and much more.

Key Features

  • Extensively Realistic Models – Its 3D solid modeling system creates physically accurate designs.
  • Solid Geometry – The software focuses more on modeling CAD, ensuring design objects are physically accurate and fully describes the 3D space.
  • Ray tracing – BRL-CAD uses ray tracing to perform geometric analysis and render images for visualization purposes.
  • Geometry Conversion – With this feature, you can convert the software’s target description to a finite element mesh (FEM).
  • Procedural Geometry – The software provides a comprehensive procedural geometry interface for developing models algorithmically rather than manually.
  • Boundary Representation – Extensively supports robust and solid ray tracing of NURBS geometry.
  • Path Tracing Capability – Its full light simulation helps generate an image or object with all its details, including components.
  • High-performance Design – BRL-CAD’s design enables it to handle complex geometry models that may seem challenging to other software systems.
  • Cross-platform Portability – You can access this software using almost all operating systems.

Pricing

The software is 100% free to all its users.

3. BlocksCAD

The leading Free 3D Software Choice for Students.

BlocksCAD

The designers of BlocksCAD software specifically developed it for educational purposes. The primary goal of the software was to train its users and equip them with the capabilities to use OpensCAD software. The software further delivers YouTube tutorials to transfer knowledge to users efficiently.

Even though BlocksCAD doesn’t provide advanced features, it gives you everything you need to kick-start your journey of developing models for websites, webinars, presentations, and more.

Its cloud-based and user-friendly interface enables you to learn coding concepts, mathematical model designs, and computational thinking through graphical visualization.

Key Features

  • OpensCAD Compatibility – BlocksCAD code is well-matched with OpensCAD software to enable its users to give their designs a final finish using highly advanced professional software.
  • User-friendly Interface – Users can navigate the software with ease because of its clear flow of programs and information.
  • Offers an Informative YouTube Channel – Through that, you get tutorial videos to help you create the most out of your 3D printing software.
  • Thoughtful-colored Commands – BlocksCAD presents commands using colored blocks that are synonymous with the toy construction blocks, LEGO. As a result, it helps shorten the learning curve.
  • Provides a Collection of Modules – The feature helps you create and save your shapes library.
  • Loops Functionality – Helps you develop uniform design models.
  • Integrated Variables Leveraging – This enables you to re-model the size of your design quickly.

BlocksCAD is the best tutorial tool for learning all the nitty-gritty of the 3D printing process. It is best suited for beginners aiming to use OpensCAD.

Pricing

Visit the developer’s website to access and download the software for free.

4. Blender

Uniquely Powerful Free 3D Software for Creative Designs.

Blender 3D printing software

Founded in 2002, Blender is an open-source 3D creation suite, entirely supporting a 3D pipeline. The cross-platform equally runs well on Windows, Linux, and Macintosh computers. Its interface uses OpenGL to deliver a consistent experience to all its users.

Blender caters to beginners and advanced users who benefit from its responsive development process and unified pipeline, like video game developers, for example.

Key Features

  • Rendering – Blender has a powerful unbiased rendering engine and Cycles that create jaw-dropping renders.
  • Modeling Toolset – Its comprehensive array of modeling tools makes transforming, creating, sculpting, and editing models a breeze. The modeling tools include modifiers, UV sculpt, and UV unwrapping.
  • User-friendly and Customizable Interface – Due to Blender’s custom architecture, you can fully customize its UI, shortcuts, and window layout. Besides, the software’s interface is consistent across all platforms, lacks disruptive pop-up windows, and offers crisp text.
  • Scripting – The modeling software features an extensive python API with tools for customization and scripting.
  • Video Editing Capabilities – This 3D software comes with an in-built video sequence editor. It enables you to perform basic actions, such as video splicing and cuts, and complex tasks, like color grading or video masking.
  • Simulation – Blenders offer robust simulation tools, which feature industry-standard libraries, such as MantaFlow and Bullet. With these tools, you can create the objects you want.
  • Animation and Rigging Capabilities – The software’s animation toolset includes constraints, rigging, drivers, shape keys, and motion paths.

Pricing

Download the software for free from the developer’s website.

5. MeshLab

The Best Free 3D Printing Software with Amazing Functionalities.

MeshLab

MeshLab is not left behind as it is among the best open-source software platforms. With this software, you will process and edit your 3D triangular meshes without struggle.

The platform further provides you with toolsets for various functions, such as editing, inspecting, cleaning, rendering, and texturing. You also get tools for raw data processing and 3D printing models preparation.

Key Features

  • 3D Color Mapping and Texturing – MeshLab has a pipeline that aligns and projects color information onto a 3D model. The process involves a series of automatic and assisted methods to obtain a top-class color encoding.
  • Integrated Measurement Tools – This tool uses automatic filters to determine the distance between two different mesh model points.
  • 3D Cleaning Models – The software provides various semi-manual, automatic and interactive filters to eliminate unwanted geometric elements. It also removes topological errors and duplicated vertices.
  • Simplification of Complex Geometric – This 3D software offers distinct ways of simplifying triangular surfaces while preserving their texture mapping and geometrical details.
  • 3D Reconstruction Functionality – MashLab offers solutions for reconstructing an object’s shape to create a stunning design.
  • U3D Support – The software directly converts 3D meshes into U3D format.

Pricing

This open-source software is available for free on the developer’s website. You can download it on multiple devices, including Windows, Mac, and Linux.

6. Wings 3D

The Best Advanced Free Software for the 3D Printing Process.

Wings 3D

Since its development in 2001, Wings 3D has provided easy-to-use and powerful modeling tools, lights support, customizable interfaces, among other advanced features.

This software uses Erlang, an open-source and functional programming language developed by Ericsson. The name Wings 3D originates from Winged Edge Data Structure (WEDS).

Key Features

  • Intuitive Interface – You access common commands by simply pressing the right-click menus. Other variation commands are in the info line.
  • A Wide Range of Modeling and Selection Tools – The software offers standard tools like scale, extrude, and bridge. Advanced tools include plane cut, sweep, and intersect.
  • AutoUV Facility – The feature helps you to unfold or cut your model surface image and further export it for texturing and painting.
  • Several Interface languages – Despite being written in English, Wings has been translated to many other languages, including Chinese, Italian, and Swedish.

Wings 3D is a perfect choice for beginners seeking to kick-start their journey in the 3D printing software. Even so, advanced users can opt for the software as well.

Pricing

Wings 3D is cost-free for all users.

7. FreeCAD

The Most Ideal Software for Parametric Modeling.

FreeCAD

With this 3D modeling software, you can design real-life items or objects of any size and shape. FreeCAD uses parametric modeling, enabling you to adjust your designs by revisiting your modeling history and altering its parameters to achieve desired results.

Key Features

  • Integrated Accessibility and Flexibility – You can access FreeCAD software using any platform such as Windows, Linux, and Mac. Besides, the software is highly customizable and reads and writes to various file formats.
  • Capability to Design 3D from 2D and Back – You can sketch geometrically inhibited 2D shapes using FreeCAD and utilize them as bases for other objects. The software also has components that extract design details or adjust dimensions from 3D models. Afterward, create a resulting drawing of high quality.
  • Freedom to Create What You Want – The software allows you to customize your object or design to your liking.
  • Modular Architecture – Helps widen your architectural designs to suit your preference.

Pricing

The open-source software is available for free on Mac, Windows, and Linux.

8. Tinkercad

An Outstanding Free CAD Software on the List.

Tinkercad

Tinkercad has built a community of more than 35 million users because of its easy-to-use programs. The platform offers excellent modeling software, ideal for creating basic shapes. Professional designers can also access more advanced features in the software.

Key Features

  • Cloud Storage Capability – The software enables you to save your designs and 3D models.
  • Intuitive User Interface – You can complete a wide array of tasks with ease.
  • Provide Detailed Tutorials – They help you understand how the software functions.
  • Enable Instant 3D Printing of Objects – Thinkercad supports STL files used to run the instant 3D printing process.
  • Intuitive block-building concept – It allows you to create models from a set of simple shapes.

Pricing

The software is free. You can access it using a web browser or an application through your Google account.

9. DesignSpark Mechanical

The Best Free Software to Enhance 3D Printing Skills.

DesignSpark Mechanical

DesignSpark is your everything store for all your 3D printing needs and the best engineering platform. Talk of comprehensive 3D CAD, community forums, and electronic libraries, and the answer is this free design software.

If you are a beginner looking for design solutions, this software would be the most ideal for you. The platform will enable you to fast-track design cycle time, enhance rapid prototyping, and deliver changes to the market at a quick rate.

Key Features

  • User-Friendly Interface – It is pretty easy to navigate through the software.
  • Technology Discovery – The platform releases technology updates to keep engineers informed about the industry and any new inventions.
  • Community Support – DesignSpark gives engineers a platform to learn, discuss and exchange ideas.
  • Comprehensive Libraries – The software’s CAD-neutral libraries can speed up design cycle times and processes.

Pricing

DesignSpark is free software. Visit the website to access it.

10. Meshmixer

An Outstanding Free 3D Software for Preparing Exceptional 3D Models.

Meshmixer

Most users prefer Meshmixer because of its ability to work with triangular meshes. The versatile 3D software meets all your 3D printing, 3D scan cleaning, object design needs. Besides, its editing and sculpting functions make efficient 3D models.

Key Features

  • Advanced Selection Tools – These include constraints and brushing.
  • Drag and Drop Mode – The feature drags any open part onto the mesh. UI widget further enables you to move the dropped part through the surface.
  • Drop Solid Mode – This allows you to drop a closed solid object onto the surface.
  • Straightforward User Interface – You can easily navigate through the programs and icons.
  • Creates Solid 3D Models from Any Mesh – The software softenstriangular meshtextures to form better 3D model finishes.

Pricing

You can download Meshmixer for free from the developer’s website.

11. ZBrushCoreMini

The #1 Free 3D Software for Sculpting.

ZBrushCoreMini

It’s now time to take your sculpting skills to the next level with ZbrushCoreMini. This fascinating software provides you with world-class enhancements designed to inspire creativity and fuel explorations.

Key Features

  • Sculptris Pro – When sculpting, everything you create comes from polygons. Luckily, Sculptris Pro automatically removes or adds polygons, eliminating guesswork. As a result, you develop a model that is detailed and well-balanced.
  • 3D Printing – The software allows you to export your object creations to a 3D printer at a single click of the 3D print button.
  • Language Localization – ZbrushCoreMini comes in 7 different languages. You can choose your preferred language during installation or change it on the fly within the application.
  • 3Dconnexion Support – The 3Dconnexion’s space mouse enables you to navigate without necessarily using a keyboard.
  • Viewer Mode – With this feature, you can preview any ZPR project files developed by ZBrushCore.
  • Image Exporting – If you want to share a preview image of your model from this software, just click the export image button to transfer your model image to the canvas.

Pricing

You can get your ZbrushCoreMini at absolutely no cost for non-commercial use.

Best 3D Printing Software FAQs

Here are some of the questions many people ask concerning 3D printing software.

What is 3D Printing Software?

3D printing software is a technology designed to enable users to convert 3D models to tangible real-world models using computer-aided design (CAD) models. This software uses the 3D model as an input and commands the 3D printer to generate the model’s replica.

But before producing the final print, CAD software optimizes your 3D models to ensure that the replica comes out looking exactly like your model.

Some years back, it could take you a fortune to design 3D printing software. In addition, you would need to gain some set of expertise before operating it. Luckily, 3D software tools have become widely available and seamless with better designing capabilities.

Besides, they come with a user-friendly interface, enabling non-technical people to venture into this 3D printing software world.

With that said, below are some 3D printing software terminologies to familiarize with:

  • Slicer/Slicing Software – Most 3D printing procedures use this software to align 3D objects to specific 3D printer capabilities.
  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) – A 3D printing process involving an ongoing computer-controlled filament and thermoplastic materials to produce printed shapes for objects.
  • G-code – Implies a 3D printer’s programming language with commands to move parts within the 3D printer.
  • Parametric 3D Printing – Refers to editable and specific model parameters like lengths, widths, and heights.

How do I choose the best 3D printing software?

Before settling for any 3D printing software, you should ensure it offers what you need. For that reason, you need to be in the mind of some features, like:

  • Customization – Check for customization features such as sculpting.
  • Collaboration – Be on the lookout for 3D design software fitted with cloud capabilities to enable you and the team to work together efficiently.
  • File Format – Go for software that supports more file formats.
  • Simulation – Using the VR, the simulation feature enables you to identify errors and gaps in your design during the initial phase. It makes it possible to view model histories and resources.
  • Scalability – Check out for 3D software with powerful adjustment tools.
  • Learning Curve – Some free and paid software have a steep learning curve. Do proper research to understand the learning curve level you need to use the software efficiently.

A licensed 3D printing software is legal. However, you can break the law with 3D printing if you print patented objects, assault weapons, or bombs.

The Best 3D Printing Software: Conclusion

Finding the best 3D printing software is a daunting task, but with a detailed review like this one, you can rest assured you’ll go home with the best deal.

Whether you’re looking for paid plans or to start on free trials, these twenty-five 3D printing software are just the way to go.

If you want the optimal value for your money, I won’t hesitate to recommend Autodesk Auto Card. It offers some of the best 2D and 3D CAD features at affordable prices.

My pick for the best free option would be OpenSCAD, as I find it to have more relevant features for technical works at absolutely no cost.

You need to understand your requirements and analyze all the tools to select the ideal one. With all this information, deciding on suitable 3D printing software has become less challenging.


Vasco Lourenço

Vasco Lourenço is a digital entrepreneur and created his blog vaslou.com to inspire people to start their online business journey. Besides writing on his blog, Vasco delights in playing the piano and composing music.

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