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9 Popular 3D Printing CAD Software for Mac OS

7 Mins read
Dragon sculpted in ZBrush 3D Printing CAD Software for Mac OS
Above: Dragon sculpted in ZBrush/Source: ZBrush/kevnabo

Being a Mac user has its benefits as well as challenges. For design engineers, finding a good 3D printing CAD software for Mac OS is always a challenge. Not all programs are compatible with mac and users have to find a CAD software that not only works well with the operating system but also delivers great results.

Manufactur3D, therefore, helps you with the research and brings to you a list of the 9 popular 3D printing CAD Software for Mac OS.

3D Printing CAD Software for Mac OS

Tinkercad

3D Modelling Software
Above: Tinkercad 3D Modelling Software/Image Credit: Tinkercad

Tinkercad, an Autodesk software, is the most basic and one of the best free 3D printing CAD software for Mac OS. It has a great interactive interface that is appealing to new users and draws them in. The software has a professional appearance and feel to it.

Tinkercad also includes a wealth of basic tutorials to get new users up and running with 3D modelling. The tutorials are simple to follow and assist in using the software to its full potential. This tool can easily attract new learners, enthusiasts, students, and even children.

Compatibility with Mac: Tinkercad is an entirely web-based software, which means it does not rely on the computer’s operating system. As a result, it works on all systems, including all versions of Mac OS.

Meshmixer

Meshmixer Software
Above: Meshmixer Software/Source: Meshmixer

Meshmixer by Autodesk is an extremely useful 3D printing CAD software used for both 3D design and clean-up tasks. It includes numerous tools, such as 3D sculpting tools, remeshing, and mesh smoothing capabilities. It is ideal for creating 3D models from existing designs and these are easy to combine using simple tools.

To understand this software, you do not need to be an expert as anyone with basic designing knowledge can start using it. However, to get the most out of this software, you need to learn about the software.

The MeshMixer software combines many previously unavailable features in a single product that is also free. Some of the key features are as follows:

Compatibility with Mac: Meshmixer’s Mac OS version has been optimised for speed and efficiency. However, it does not have a native Apple silicon version yet.

SelfCAD

3D modelling software
Above: SelfCAD 3D modelling software/Image Credit: SelfCAD

SelfCAD is a 3D printing CAD software that is available in both web-based and desktop versions. It enables users to model, sculpt, draw, sketch, animate, slice, and print online all within the same programme. It is Mac compatible and runs as smoothly as it would on a Windows system.

SelfCAD believes that 3D CAD software should include advanced tools for modelling, sculpting, and 3D printing preparation, in addition to being intuitive and easy to use, to ensure that the design process is as real-world and authentic as possible, with no barriers to creativity.

With this goal in mind, the SelfCAD team has created a world-class combination of a powerful software package and the most user-friendly user interface ever.

Compatibility with Mac: SelfCAD is an entirely web-based software, which means it does not rely on the computer’s operating system. As a result, it works on all systems, including all versions of Mac OS.

Rhino

Rhino 7 3D printing CAD software for Mac OS
Above: Rhino 7 3D printing CAD software for Mac OS/Source: Rhino

Rhino software is primarily used in architecture, engineering, industrial design, jewellery, and graphic design. It is surface modelling CAD software that is available for both Mac and Windows users (more on this below).

The most recent Rhino 7 version maintains the accuracy and complexity of engineering software blueprints, allowing it to be used for in-depth and accurate analysis. Users can use the tool to create organic shapes with a high level of accuracy and editability thanks to Rhino 7’s SubD geometry types. Meshes, curves, BlendEdge, and Boolean operations can be used to transform designs. Because of the built-in compatibility, plans from other software can be loaded into this tool without losing the integrity of the designated form or scale.

Rhino is ideal for those looking for a sophisticated application for creating mechanical components or concept drawings.

Compatibility with Mac: Rhino had released Rhino 6, its first Mac version as a native application, eliminating the need to run the software in a Windows environment. Its new update, Rhino 7 is now completely compatible with Apple silicon chip without the need to create a Windows environment or use Rosetta and thus is the best 3D printing CAD software for your Mac.

SketchUp Free

Architecture Model designed in Sketchup Free
Above: Architecture Model designed in Sketchup Free/Source: Sketchup

SketchUp Free is one of several products in the SketchUp software range that provides a free 3D printing CAD software. This is a web-based version offered to Engineers, Architects, Designers, and others frequently use it to avoid the hassle of downloading the software suite. Users can try the software and get a taste of the capabilities and then move on to the more premium software solutions such as SketchUp Pro.

Furthermore, the Sketchup library, known as 3D Warehouse, allows users to import user-generated and manufacturer-produced models directly into the existing design.

This software is widely used in the automotive and architectural industries.

Compatibility with Mac: SketchUp Free is an entirely web-based software, which means it does not rely on the computer’s operating system. As a result, it works on all systems, including all versions of Mac OS.

Blender

Modeling Software
Above: Blender is widely used in game development/Source: Blender/Embark Studios

Blender is an open source and free software that offers a complete design solution. It is an entry-level professional 3D modelling software and one of the best free 3D printing CAD software.

Blender supports the entire 3D pipeline, including modelling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing, and motion tracking, as well as video editing and game development. This software is most commonly used in the animation/gaming industry.

Compatibility with Mac: Blender works with all Mac operating systems and includes native Apple silicon support. Some users are concerned about speed optimization for the new chips, but it works just as well on these new chips as it did on previous Intel versions.

Houdini

SideFX Houdini latest demo project, The Dawning
Above: SideFX Houdini latest demo project, The Dawning/Source: SideFX

Houdini software, from SideFX, provides VFX artists working on feature films, commercials, or video games with superior performance and physically realistic dynamic simulation tools. Houdini FX’s procedural node-based workflow allows you to create more content faster, reducing timelines and increasing flexibility in all of your creative tasks.

Being a professional software, it is a bit complicated and involves a long learning curve, but delivers superior results. With its particle and dynamics environment, Houdini is ideal for Visual Effects artists and technical directors. Houdini FX includes all of the CORE features for a comprehensive toolset that includes lighting, animation, and procedural modelling.

Compatibility with Mac: Mac OS is supported by Houdini FX. Furthermore, Apple announced that the current version of Houdini 19 is compatible with M1 via Apple’s Rosetta translator. However, it is not yet production-ready, and artists can use it and provide feedback.

ZBrush

Dragon sculpted in ZBrush 3D Printing CAD Software for Mac OS
Above: Dragon sculpted in ZBrush/Source: ZBrush/kevnabo

ZBrush sets the industry standard for digital sculpting and painting. Its features allow you to shape, texture, and paint virtual clay in a real-time environment with instant feedback using customizable brushes. When you use ZBrush, you’ll have access to the same tools used by film studios, game developers, toy/collectible manufacturers, jewellery designers, automotive/aviation designers, illustrators, advertisers, scientists, and other artists all over the world.

ZBrush is used by global leaders such as Hasbro, Gentle Giant Studios, Mattel, and others for modelling and 3D printing needs such as toys, figurines, and marketing.

In a nutshell, ZBrush is an art tool designed by artists for artists. It enables you to create models and illustrations with only your imagination as a constraint, at a speed that allows you to stand out in today’s fast-paced industry.

Compatibility with Mac: While ZBrush is compatible with the majority of Mac computers running 10.14 or higher, it lacks a native application for Apple silicon.

Mudbox

Mudbox is a digital sculpting software similar to ZBrush. As it is owned by Autodesk, it is closely integrated with other CAD software like the Maya and 3ds Max.  

Mudbox also integrates with a wide range of other 3D applications, allowing for a very natural workflow. This allows artists to transfer their designs from virtually any software to Mudbox.

The non-destructive workflow of digital sculpting is its most striking feature. Layers can be used to add and remove details, and you can always go back and change things if you don’t like the result. This would be much more difficult in a traditional sculpting scenario. As a result, some users only use Mudbox to create standalone pieces for games or films.

This is a less expensive CG sculpting programme that is ideal for those on a tight budget or beginners.

Compatibility with Mac: Mudbox is available for Mac OS with Intel processors but is not yet compatible with Apple’s new Silicon processors.

More Options

OnShape

Onshape is a cloud-native product development platform that combines full-featured CAD, integrated PDM, and enterprise analytics in a single system, allowing your company to create high-quality products quickly, collaboratively, and securely. It is a hardware agnostic software that can run on any device, from your browser, including MacBooks.

  • No need of a virtual machine.
  • No need of specialised graphic cards.

OnShape’s unique capabilities make it an indispensable tool in the arsenal of automotive manufacturers. The OnShape car design software not only helps businesses get work done faster and communicate more effectively, but it also helps them modernise their product design process.

Compatibility with Mac: OnShape is hardware agnostic and thus can be used on Mac OS with all its capabilities.

Conclusion

Apple recently switched to new silicon chips. This has caused some inconvenience for many artists and designers who use Mac products. However, this new shift does not imply that you must compromise on your work. Although not exhaustive, this list includes 9 of the most popular 3D printing CAD software for Mac OS. This is an excellent starting point for determining the best software for your specific needs and requirements.

Which one was your favourite? Let us know if this listicle was helpful, and please share this article so that all Mac users are aware of the software options. Don’t forget to tag us when you share this on your social media pages.


About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing. which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Visit our 3D Printing Education page to read more such informative articles. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn.

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Manufactur3D is an Indian Online 3D Printing Media Platform that reports on the latest news, insights and analysis from the Indian and the Global 3D Printing Industry.
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