In this latest 2022 update, we have compiled a comprehensive list of the best free CAD software for 3D printing which can cater to people from students to professionals. These free software have some limitations but as starters, these software can be relied upon for learning and modelling purpose. These best CAD software for 3D Printing are a great source to quickly get some hands-on experience of designing.
Best Free CAD Software for 3D Printing
Let us look at some of the best free 3D CAD software for 3D printing available for beginners, intermediates and experts.
Tinkercad is the simplest and one of the best free CAD software for 3D printing. It is a web-based 3D design tool. It starts with basic tutorials and helps you understand all the functionality step-by-step. You can learn the lessons anytime you want and as many times you want. This tool can be easily attractive to all new learners, enthusiasts, students, and even kids for that matter. This software can also be used to edit and repair STL files.
3D Slash is one of the best free cad programs for 3D printing learners. It is an easy-to-use software which lets you create models using a simple block building technique, much like Tinkercad. It is fun to use and interactive. Free STL files downloaded from Thingiverse can be edited in 3D Slash.
ZBrushCoreMini is the scaled down version of the original and vastly popular ZBrush. These software programs are offered by Pixologic. The same company that brought Sculptris. But in mid-2020, Sculptris was discontinued and thus it is no longer available for download or support. The ZBrushCoreMini sits between Sculptris and the professional ZBrush software. This new software is a free digital sculpting solution with a streamlined interface designed to be incredibly easy for users of all ages and skill levels to learn.
ZBrushCoreMini is a 64-bit application and so will run on all modern computers. It also perform better than Sculptris but interestingly it also includes the Sculptris Pro features. Pixologic encourages all Sculptris users to switch to the new software.
As the name suggests, FreeCAD is a free and open-source parametric CAD software for 3D printing. It is a great starting point for engineers aiming to learn modelling. Since it operates on parametric modelling, designers can create complex models and also easily modify it. The UI is not aesthetically appealing but delivers great results. It can also be used to edit and repair STL files.
It is a good start for engineers and non-engineers may find it a bit difficult to deal with at first.
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.
Autodesk Fusion360 is a revolutionary next generation software which combined the CAD/CAM/CAE tools for a complete collaborative product innovation and development platform. It integrates the complete design to manufacture process in one complete package. It simply is the best free CAD software for 3D printing.
Fusion360 takes a cloud-based which lets you use the software irrespective of the OS and you can access your work from anywhere in the world.
It is available freely for a period of 3 years for students and Startups.
Blender is an open source and free CAD for 3D printing and provides a complete solution. It is commercial software and supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modelling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation. This software is mainly used in the animation industry. It can be called as the entry level professional software for 3D modelling and one of the best free CAD software for 3D printing.
PTC Creo Elements/Direct Modelling Express (Version 6.0)
PTC is a big name in the 3D modelling, designing field. The organisation has churned out numerous software solutions like the Computer Aided Design (CAD), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Service Lifecycle Management (SLM), etc.
PTC Creo Elements/Direct Modelling Express 6.0 is another of such solution for budding designers who have fair bit of modelling background. Though this module is freely available, it is not targeted towards a new learner. The user needs to have a fair bit of background in using direct of parametric modelling software before using direct elements.
It is preferred for experienced designers who have a hang of 3D modelling software for 3D printing.
Autodesk Maya & 3ds Max
Both these Autodesk software are good alternatives in addition to the above mentioned free CAD software for 3D printing.
Maya is much more than a regular 3D modelling software as it creates more life-like models. It is mostly used for animation, simulation and rendering purposes.
3ds Max is one of the most comprehensive modelling software and mostly used by game developers and graphic artists. This software is suited to users who have a background in animation and modelling on professional software like Maya.
Both these software are paid but they are freely available for students and Startups, similar to Fusion360 for a period of 3 years. Both these software are highly professional and rank high in some of the best free CAD software for 3D printing across all the modelling software.
With the rise in popularity of 3D printing and designing, the ned for engineers to learn 3D modelling has also increased. Designers today are expected to be familiar with CAD software for 3D printing. Although there are many other similar software programs, this list of the printing, best free 3D modelling software for 3D printing is a great place to start your design learning journey. This comprehensive list of the best free CAD software for 3D printing will give new learners a direction to start 3D modelling and enter the world of 3D printing.
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