Free Software for 3D Printing
When choosing software for 3D printing, if you are a beginner, find one that is easy to learn and use, and choose one that is going to perform the task you want to and at the level of quality you want to reach. Most professional 3D software is expensive, however there are always some free software that you can use and create objects. Below is the list of popular 3D software, free or paid. Most of 3D printers require that you use 3D computer graphics software that saves objects in the STL (stereolithography) format.
Free 3D software:
• Google SketchUp – free and is known for being easy to use. To build models in SketchUp, you draw edges and faces using a few simple tools that you can learn in a short time. With Push/Pull tool you can extrude any flat surface into a 3D form.
• 3DCrafter – is a real-time 3D modeling and animation tool that incorporates an intuitive drag-and-drop approach to 3D modeling. The standard version of 3DCrafter is freeware. Paid versions are available: 3DCrafter Plus and 3Dcrafter Pro.
• Blender – is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License. Blender was developed as an in-house application by a Dutch animation studio. It is a powerful program which contains features characteristics of high-end 3D software.
• 3Dtin – the simplest 3D software. You can draw directly from your browser.
• Anim8or – is a 3D modeling and character animation program.
• Art of Illusion – is a free, open source 3D modelling and rendering studio. Art of Illusion is more as a 3D design system for animated computer graphics than as an engineering CAD tool. More information about Hints on Using Art of Illusion for RepRap is available online.
• BRL-CAD – is a powerful cross-platform open source solid modeling system that includes interactive geometry editing, high-performance ray-tracing for rendering and geometric analysis, image and signal-processing tools, a system performance analysis benchmark suite, libraries for robust geometric representation.
• Creo Elements/Direct – is a complete design environment that offers direct 3D CAD modeler, along with 2D CAD, CAE and integrated product data management (PDM).
• DrawPlus Starter Edition – 100% free and simple, with Accurate vector drawing program, realistic brush, pen, and pencil tools, text on a path, blend modes for advance artistic effects.
• FreeCAD – is a general purpose Open Source 3D CAD/MCAD/CAx/CAE/PLM modeler, aimed directly at mechanical engineering and product design but also fits in architecture or other engineering specialties.
• GLC Player – is a free application used to view 3d models (COLLADA 3DXML OBJ 3DS STL OFF COFF Format) and to navigate easily in these models. With the album management, capture and multi-capture capabilities, html export and navigation possibilities GLC_Player is the accurate tools to review a lot of 3D models and to create illustrations.
• LeoCAD – is a CAD program that can be used to create virtual LEGO models. It has an easy to use interface and currently features over 3000 different types of pieces created by the LDaw community.
• Netfabb Studio Basic – provides mesh edit, repair and analysis capabilities. Its compact size of only a few megabytes allows a quick download, an easy installation and the handling of STL and slice files within seconds.
• K-3D – is free-as-in-freedom 3D modeling and animation software. It features a plugin-oriented procedural engine for all of its content, making K-3D a very versatile and powerful package. K-3D excels at polygonal modeling, and includes basic tools for NURBS, patches, curves and animation.
• OpenSCAD – is a software for creating solid 3D CAD objects. Available for Linux/UNIX, MS Windows and Mac OS X, it focusses on the CAD aspects.
• Tinkercad – is a new and faster way of creating designs for your 3D printer. With only three basic tools you can create a wide range of useful things. Once your project is ready simply download the STL file and start your 3D print.
• Wings 3D – is a subdivision modeler that offers a wide range of modeling tools, a customizable interface, support for lights and materials, and a built-in AutoUV mapping facility. There is no support in Wings for animation.
Commercial 3D software:
• 3DS Max – High-end commercial 3D modeling tool
• Alibre – One of the cheapest CAM programs.
Free STL software:
• MeshLab – Open source software for processing and editing of unstructured triangular meshes. It also has an extremely fast slide function.
• Google SketchUp plugin – A plugin script to import and export STL files for Google SketchUp. Supports both binary and ASCII import and export.
• STL-viewer – Display and manipulate the contents of stereolithography or STL file.
• Netfabb Studio – a free Windows program for 3D printing to view, edit, analyze and repair STL files.