3D printing software simplifies the process of generating real life models from 2D drawings, improving the efficiency of designs and minimizing the cost associated with manufacturing.
What is 3D Printing Software?
A 3D printing software is a tool which converts a design in your computer into a 3D model with depth and dimensions. A 3D printing software tool is used for transforming your drawings into meshes which are called G-codes. The best program for 3D printing then uses these G codes to replicate physically realisable models.
A best software for 3D printer modeling uses G-codes to replicate physically realizable models. There are various paid and open source 3D printing software available in the market that makes it easy for designers to create complex designs. And unlike traditional processes, 3D printed parts and prototypes can often be produced in hours, rather than traditional means of manufacturing which can take from a few days to weeks. This allows the companies to move through design cycles faster and more efficiently.
How to Use 3D Printing Software?
3D printing software encompasses a wide variety of products that aid 3D printing or design process, including slicers, design automation, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer-aided design (CAD) technologies.
CAD software allows the users to design complex models that can be sliced into fine layers to laid out instructions for the printers. Because of 3D printing’s prevalence in industry and manufacturing, the OEMs of 3D printing software have developed additional capabilities that support electrical and mechanical design integration. Today, from a 3D printed airplane parts to medical devices, 3D printing has made it easier than ever to create lighter, more effective parts at a faster rate (and a lower cost) than traditional methods.
What’s the Use of 3D Printing Software?
3D printer modeling software is becoming popular, even in industries where its use was unfathomable a few years ago. We list some popular ways in which CAD software for 3D printing is being used.
Modern day education involves using 3D modeling software for 3D printing to help students grasp scientific and design-based concepts in a better manner.
3D printing software online solutions can render a prototype far quicker than traditional methods and at a reduced cost.
3D printing software finds a variety of uses in the healthcare industry. It is put into force for bioprinting- a procedure for developing artificial structures imitating human tissue. The software is also highly popular for the creation of prosthetic and implants.
- Jewellery Designing
3D design software can helps create intricate jewellery designs in 3D to get a holistic view.
- Food Industry
3D printers are being used in the food industry to print the prototype of specific tools required for the processing and storage of packaged food.
10 Best 3D Printer Software for CAD & 3D Modelling (Mac/Linux/Ubuntu)
Below we mention some of the best 3D printer software which can render creative three-dimensional models in no time.
Best 3D printer design software for beginners
TinkerCAD from Autodesk is a best modeling software for 3D printing that lets you design complex 3D models by combining different shapes. Once you have designed the model, you can export it as an SVG file and then laser cut it with this 3D modeling software.
TinkerCAD Home 3D printer Features
- Ordering 3D prints
You can order 3D prints and get them delivered right to your doorstep
- 3D design lessons
Beginners can learn to design the perfect model through a number of tutorials and videos
- Simulation of electronic circuits
You can create virtual electronic circuits and simulate their working in real life
TinkerCAD allows creation of interactive designs using code blocks and C++ language
- Multiformat file saving
With this software you can obtain 3D models in different formats such as OBJ, SVJ and STL etc.
TinkerCAD 3D printing software online pricing: TinkerCAD software is a free 3D printing software.
- It supports brick model designing, similar to building legos
- You can undertake transformation and shape modification in your designs.
- TinkerCAD free 3D printer software does not work without internet connectivity.
Supported Platforms: TinkerCAD 3D printing software for –
- Windows 8 or higher
- Mac OS 10.9 or higher
Best open source software used for 3D printing
With Cura 3D printer modeling software, you can monitor different designs from a common interface. You can render 3D models over various networks and save the output in X3D, 3MF, OBJ file formats.
Cura3D Printing Software Features
- Grouping 3D printers
You can group 3D printers in your organisation and obtain maintenance alerts for individual printers.
- 3D Printing Assistance
Beginners can access reading materials on how to best use Cura 3D printer design software.
- Flexible material choice
You can choose the material in which you want your design to be rendered such as polymers, carbon fibres, etc.
- Global support services
Cura3D printer software team offers support service in your desired language and as per your time zone.
- Enhanced integrations
Cura offers integration with other CAD software for 3D printing like siemens NX, Autodesk and Solidworks.
Cura3D printer modeling software pricing: Cura is a free, open source 3D printing software for Mac.
- Cura can be used by both professional designers and newbies
- You can utilise plugins to customize 3D design development.
- The software can be a burden on your system’s RAM if you are using a device with the modest CPU.
Supported Platforms: Cura 3D Printer Software for Windows, macOS, Linux.
Best Program for 3D Printing for Professional Designers
Sculptris 3D printer slicer software lets you sculpt 3D models from virtual clay. You can easily share your renditions with others in iMage 3D GIF and iMage 3D PNG format. On a normal website this file will appear in 2D format. However other users of Sculptris can see your designs in 3D.
Sculptris Free 3D printing software for Mac Features
- Automatic addition of polygons
Sculptris automatically adds polygons to create in-depth designs
- Multiple brushes
This best free CAD software for 3D printing online offers multiple brushes for digitally sculpting designs in different ways
- Symmetrical sculpting
Symmetry button lets you work on left and right side of your design with equal precision
- Different colour options
Sculptris provides a variety of colours in virtual clay for you to work upon such as MatCap red, toy plastic, gold, silver foil, etc.
- Exporting image
The export button lets you to obtain an image of your model designed on the canvas
Sculptris CAD software for 3D printing pricing: You don’t need to spend anything to download Sculptris.
- You can preview any .ZPR project files in 3D
- It works on both windows and mac OS
- Sculptris offers limited functionalities for designing highly complex 3D structures.
Supported Platforms: Sculptris 3D printer software for Windows, Mac OS X.
Best 3D print software for designing sophisticated mechanical parts
Autodesk AutoCAD software used for 3D printing lets you extract data from PDF files and annotate your designs. By using Autodesk 3D printer software, you can also access tools such as AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCAD Electrical, etc. which can complement your drawings.
AutoCAD 3D Printing Software Features
- Preloaded plugins
The 3D printer modelling software is loaded with entities such as doors and windows, aiding in easy development of designs.
- Conversion to STL files
After completion of 3D drawing, the software converts them into STL type for printing.
- Automated tasks
AutoCAD 3D printer software automates tasks such as comparing drawings, adding blocks, etc.
- Easy customisation
You can customise the interface as per your need with add on apps and APIs.
- Enforce industry standards in your drawings
AutoCAD uses a rule-based workflow to ensure that each drawing satisfies certain industry standards.
AutoCAD Home 3D printer software pricing: AutoCAD offers a free trial for 30 days. After that it can be purchased on a subscription basis by paying ₹11,023 per month.
- Autodesk offers web as well as mobile apps
- Exceptional customer support before and after purchase.
- Autodesk has a steep learning curve for beginners.
Supported Platforms: Best 3D printing software for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android.
Best 3D modeling software for 3D printing meshes
MeshLab open source 3D printing software is suitable for designing, texturing and transforming 3D meshes. Meshlab best free 3D CAD software for 3D printing software boasts of a measurement tool which can calculate the linear distance between any two points within the mesh framework.
MeshLab 3D printer design software Features
- 3D Alignment
MeshLab allows alignment of multiple meshes in a single reference system
The software supports different reconstruction from raw blocks such as volumetric, implicit surface etc.
- Coloring and texturing
MeshLab projects high quality color encoding and texture mapping onto 3D objects
- Better 3D printing
You can convert your designs to STL format and create inner shells to obtain watertight meshes
- Efficient cleaning
MeshLab swiftly removes any design errors, poorly oriented faces, vertices and edges
MeshLab 3D printer modeling software pricing: MeshLab is a free open source software
- MeshLab makes it easy to manipulate orientation of a 3D model
- It can import and export 3D designs to third party services such as Blender and Photoscan.
- Navigation around 3D meshes can be an arduous task.
Supported Platforms: MeshLab 3D modeling software for Linux, Mac OS X, Windows and, with reduced functionality, on Android and iOS.
Best CAD software for 3D printing for architects
SketchUp 3D modelling software is used for designing sustainable designs for building and edifices. The software backs up your designs to the cloud and lets you collaborate with your team on cloud. It also offers a dedicated mobile app for you to access your work anywhere you go.
SketchUp 3D Printing Software Online Features
- Supports different file formats
You can work on SKP, PNG, JPG files and then export your drawings in PNG and STP file format.
- Reference material
The software provides access to models generated by other users as well as the software itself for your reference.
- Compatibility with VR software
The 3D printing software is compatible with HTC vive, Oculus and Microsoft HoloLens for better presentation of your designs
- LayOut for 2D drawings
You can obtain 2D blueprints with the LayOut feature of SketchUp
- Build better with Sefaira Plugin
With Sefaira for SketchUp plugin, you can obtain critical information such as a building’s energy requirement before you start building
SketchUp 3D printing software pricing: SketchUp offers a free trial for 30 days. After that you can shift to a paid plan at the rate of ₹8752.91 per year.
- You can quickly share designs with clients through trimble connect
- SketchUp web version allows you to design without the need for downloading the software
- SketchUp does not have an autosave feature. In case it closes out of the blue, you might lose important work.
Supported Platforms: SketchUp 3D printer modeling software for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.5+ and Mac OS X 10.6+
Best 3D printer design software for beginners interested in learning 3D modeling
FreeCAD is an open source 3D design, modelling and printing software. The 3D printer software showcases users the history of their designs and all the edits made by them. It converts basic 2D images into 3D and 3D designs into 2D blueprints.
FreeCAD Free 3D Printing Software Features
FreeCAD works equally well on Windows, macOS and Linux
- Accepts different file formats
FreeCAD software accepts input files in IGES, OBJ, STL, DXF formats etc.
- Designed for all categories of users
Be it a beginner or professional designer, an experience architect or a student, FreeCAD has something for everyone
- Advance robot simulation module
With this module, you can track the movements of a robot and plan its trajectory
- CASCADE technology
You can create complex 3D shapes and carry out complex orientation and scaling operations on them
FreeCAD3D printer design software pricing: FreeCAD open source and free 3D printing software can be used without paying any cost.
- It offers add on plugins to boost its core building functions
- It has a sketcher through which you can draft 2D images and then use them as a base to build 3D structures.
- The interface of FreeCAD scores low in terms of intuitiveness.
Supported Platforms: FreeCAD 3D printer slicing software for Windows 32/64 bits, Mac 64-bit, Linux 64-bit.
Best Remote Control 3D Model Rendering Software
OctoPrint is a robust open source 3D drawing printing software. It provides you with extended plugins for creating time lapses and update of printer’s firmware. This 3D printer slicer software is compatible with almost every 3D printer, even with Dremel and PowerSpec.
OctoPrint3D Printer Modeling Software Features
- Remote monitoring of designs
Use the embedded webcam feed to remotely monitor your printer’s functioning
- Customizable UI
You can change the themes of OctoPrint’s UI by using the Themeify feature
- Better management of STL files
With OctoPrint, you can directly slice STL files quickly
- System command shortcut
Shortcut commands can be created on the main menu for shutting down or rebooting printer and servers
- Dedicated community
OctoPrint has a community forum where beginners can obtain support and utilities regarding their 3D drawings
OctoPrint CAD software for 3D printing pricing: OctoPrint is an open source and free 3D printing software.
- You can set up event hooks to send custom GCODE to your printer
- It helps define custom controls for moving the print head.
- If you cancel a print and then try reprint the same document, it will crash automatically.
Supported Platforms: OctaPrint 3D printing software for Linux, Windows, MacOS X and FreeBSD and is actively tested on Linux and Windows.
Best 3D print software for students
An easy to use 3D model drafting tool, 3D Slash has been specifically designed for use by school students. 3D Slash works equally well on online and offline mode and provides engaging cutting and smashing tools for beginners to reshape their models.
3D Slash Home 3D Printer Software Features
- VR View
You can easily present your designs as the software is compatible with VR headsets
- Projecting pictures and texts on designs
You can engrave pictures and texts on your 3D designs
- Color palette
With 3D Slash, give a creative touch to your models and paint them using its encompassing palette
- Support for files with different formats
You can import .stl and .obj file and start building them
- Creating student accounts
Teachers can create multiple student accounts and then monitor their designs in real time
3D Slash 3D modeling software pricing: 3D Slash offers a free version. The cost of the premium version starts from ₹147.02. It provides features such as high resolution designing and a dedicated mobile app.
- 3D Slash works even on Raspberry pi
- It offers file synchronization on multiple formats.
- 3D Slash software is not designed for complex modelling.
Supported Platforms: Slash is the best 3D printing software for Windows, MacOS and Linux.
Best Program for 3D Printing of Modern Product Design
Creo printing tool is widely used for manufacturing casts and product designing. You can realise your designs on paper in real life by making use of Creo’s real time simulation and multibody designing.
Features of Creo Software used for 3D printing
- Generative Design
Develop clean designs by removing all topological flaws from your designs
- Optimization extension
You can choose the design most optimized as per your needs and the one which involves
- Fluid dynamics for real time simulation
Creo allows you to simulate the working of your design to get hold of any flaws
- Better functionality
Creo lets you gauge your designs on real world parametric, such as thermal readings
- Delaunay Algorithm
Creo makes use of Delaunay algorithm to design cleaner lattices in quick fashion
Creo 3D printing software online pricing: Creo offers a trial version for 30 days and after that you can purchase a lifetime license at ₹169767.68
- It is suitable for complex operations on complex 3D models
- The software can be used for IoT operations, augmented reality etc.
- Beginners looking to fiddle with 3D designing may find this software too complex.
Supported Platforms: Creo is the best 3D printing software for:
- Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Edition2
- Windows 8.1
- Windows Server 2019
5 Free & Open Source 3D Modeling Software for 3D Printing
As being an essential part of engineering, CAD is professionally used in architecture, auto parts design, space shuttle research, aeronautics, bridge construction, interior-design, and even clothing and jewelry. A number of professional-grade open source and free 3D printing software like FreeCAD, OpenSCAD, QCAD, BricsCAD (paid software), and VariCAD (paid software) are supported by Mac/Linux/Ubuntu platforms.
Below we mention some of the best 3D printer software which can render creative 3D models for Mac/Linux/Ubuntu in no time.
FreeCAD: FreeCAD is an excellent option that is both free and open-source 3D printing software. FreeCAD is built with mechanical engineering and product design as its target purposes. FreeCAD is a multi-platform and is available on Windows and macOS as well as Linux. Although it doesn’t focus on direct 2D drawings and animating organic shapes, it’s great for design related to mechanical engineering.
OpenSCAD: OpenSCAD is a free CAD software for 3D printing. It’s very lightweight and flexible. OpenSCAD isn’t interactive: you need to ‘program’ the model and OpenSCAD will interpret that code to render a visual model. In a sense, it’s like a compiler. You cannot draw the model – you describe the model. OpenSCAD is a very complicated tool, but once you get to know it, it provides an enjoyable work environment.
QCAD: QCAD is an open-source CAD software for 3D printing based on the Qt framework. It has a free community edition and is available as an open-source. The professional version of QCAD contains add-ons for advanced DXF support, DWG support and many extra tools and features.
BricsCAD: This may not be an open source a free 3D printing software. However, you will find it available for Linux when you purchase it. It’s a feature-rich CAD program available for Linux users. If you are curious, there’s a comparison chart with AutoCAD on its official website that lists its capabilities and features. You need to sign up for a 30-day trial to start with and purchase it later if you like it.
VariCAD: VariCAD 3D printer modeling software is another decent CAD program for 2D and 3D designs. Even though it isn’t free, you get a 30-day free trial version to test it out. For Linux, you can download Debian and RPM packages to try it out. It’s actively maintained and supports most of the latest Linux distributions. It also offers a free VariCAD viewer, which you can use to convert DWG to DFX and similar tasks.
So here is our list of 10 best 3D printing software. While choosing such a software for your organisation, you must ensure that it provides an in-depth 3D view of your 2D drawings. Moreover, it should allow you to export final output in different formats and should be compatible with leading printers.