Top free and premium 3D Printer software and tools. 3D printing is the latest buzz in the tech industry. The technology is around for decades but it has been commercialized recently. Startups have found a way to manufacturer cost effective 3D printers which can be used by individuals. All you need is knowledge regarding 3D design and modelling and you can print anything.
3D printers are available for as low as $1000 for consumers and thousands of dollars for industries. 3D printing tools are available across the web and there are dozens of free and professional softwares for design. An average consumer will not go through a whole course to learn a 3D Printer software for modelling. They need a simple and easy way to learn a software or tool which can send the model to the 3D printer.
Thanks to developers such softwares are available online that too at a fraction of the cost. 3D printers require files which are stored in ST (stereo lithography) and most of the softwares do support it. Today we will discuss some of the most popular 3D modelling softwares and tools used for 3D printing.
1) Google SketchUp
Google is by far the only tech company that has its foot in everything. It provides almost every solution to the end users. SketchUp is no different, it is a free and easy to use 3D modelling solution. It is extremely popular amongst young architects to develop blue prints for buildings and houses. It has a very simple interface and users need only a few tools to make a 3D model. You can learn how to work with Google SketchUp within a day by following various guides and tutorials available on the web. It is an excellent choice for beginners who want to model objects and print them using their 3D printer. Unfortunately, the free version of the software does not allow you to export files in STL, either you have buy the paid version for $400 or install a plugin.
2) Autodesk 123D
Autodesk is known for its popular 3D modelling software, Maya. The company has also introduced a free 3D creation tool for 3D printer owners, 123D. It is a powerful tool which is easy to use and integrates with most 3D printers. The free version enables you to create and design 3D objects for non-commercial use which is ideal for an individual. It is a beginner level software but has enough features to fulfill your 3D printing needs at home.
3) Cubify Invent
Cubify Invent is another extremely useful 3D design software. The software costs $49 and only works with Windows devices. It is again focused towards customers with 3D printers without much knowledge about 3D design and modelling. The software’s friendly user interface enables users to quickly design a 3D object and export them in to 3D printable files. It is recommended for beginners and intermediate level users with little to no 3D modeling knowledge. 3D systems Inc. also provides tutorials for consumers so they can learn how to use the software and build their desired objects.
FreeCAD is a free 3D design software designed by the community. The FreeCAD community has designed this software to help users in developing 3D objects for print. It is a parametric 3D modeler developed for making product designs and engineering models. It is a feature rich software which can be used by individuals as well as professionals. Although the software is free, it does not lack in features and used by professionals around the world. FreeCAD has a high learning curve so beginners might need to spend some time understanding the software before they can start designing their objects. It is a multi-platform software that works with Windows, Linux, UNIX and Mac OS X.
5) 3Ds Max
Another creation by Autodesk, 3Ds Max is a commercial 3D modelling, animation, simulation and rendering software. It is used by professionals all over the world and it does not come cheap. The software costs $3675 and used only by professionals. An average 3D printer owner will need a lot of training to work with 3Ds Max. The software is used for advanced graphics and motion designs in films and games. It is one of the best 3D softwares ever designed. It is used in every graphics industry known to us including 3D printing. Engineers in industries use 3Ds Max to design product prototypes and models for 3D printing. A $1000 3D printer owner will not find it feasible to spend $4000 on a software for 3D printing small objects.
6) Cinema 4D
Cinema 4D is also a commercial advanced 3D modelling software for professionals. It is used for 3D modeling, rendering, animation and simulating 3D objects. It is a complete animation suite which is also used to develop 3D objects for printing. The software costs a staggering $3695 and only used by professionals. Cinema 4D is capable of procedural and polygonal/subd modeling, animating, lighting, texturing and rendering. It competes in the same category as 3Ds Max and Maya.
7) Autodesk Maya
Maya is the third installment of commercial softwares by Autodesk. It is a 3D computer graphics software that offers a comprehensive set of tools for 3D design. Professionals use Maya for 3D computer animation, modeling, simulation and rendering. Similar to 3Ds Max, it is also used for developing advanced 3D solutions such as games, animated films, TV series and visual effects. It is more popular in the entertainment industry but it is also used by professionals to design 3D models of their prototypes and print those using 3D printers.
Softwares mentioned above are some of the most popular 3D modeling softwares used in the 3D printing process. From free consumer softwares to expensive commercial softwares, all of them are available online for purchase or download.