If you want to start designing your 3D printing models. It’s time to find the best CAD software for 3D printing. While there are plenty of CAD software programs out there, not all of them are appropriate for 3D printing.
Since you’re just starting, it is better to start learning CAD with the use of free programs. We have compiled a list of the best free CAD software programs for 3D printing.
1. Autodesk Fusion 360
Autodesk Fusion 360 is one of the most powerful CAD programs in the 3D printing community. Best of all, it has a free version, albeit with limited features. However, it still retains the same modelling and design features as the paid version.
Preferred by architects, designers, and engineers worldwide, the Fusion 360 is best for creating mechanical projects. Hence, this software is better suited for intermediate to professional users.
A truly free and open-source CAD program, Blender is packed with a load of features that makes it a favourite among advanced and professional users. Aside from 3D modelling, it is also capable of rendering, animation, skinning, and even video editing.
That said, it is difficult software to master, making it a steep learning curve for beginners. However, this is a good program to graduate to once the user wants a more powerful program.
Onshape is a web-based CAD program that claims to be an “all-in-one product development platform” which specialises in technical and spare parts.
To promote sharing of designs, the software is free for makers who agree to freely share their works under the creative commons licence.
If it’s not yet obvious by the name, this software is equipped with powerful features that allow users to create realistic designs at no charge! Many mechanical engineers and designers got their start in 3D modelling with this software.
While its interface may not be as sophisticated as the other CAD programs, it’s still capable of creating complex designs. Another important thing about FreeCAD is that it allows the files to be exported in various formats, including STL and OBJ.
5. Ultimaker Cura
Created by the #1 3D printer brand in the world, the Ultimaker Cura is an all-in-one 3D printing software that’s free and open-source. As it is open-source, it is constantly improved and updated to meet the users’ demands and evolve with technology.
Cura is so easy to use that many beginners in 3D printing and modelling gravitate towards it. If it’s your first time trying 3D modelling, we highly recommend starting with this software. It also allows customisation of already existing designs so you can easily download files online and modify them using Cura.
Another web-based program, the Tinkercad is a 3D modelling tool geared towards the educational setting, particularly for use by children and educators. Its user-friendly interface also makes it perfect for beginners and hobbyists. Since it is web-based, it also doesn’t require high system requirements.
The software has several features that make learning 3D modelling fun and easy. One, it offers many learning resources and projects. Two, it has a user gallery where the community uploads their designs and the new users can modify them according to their preferences.
Sketchup is another web-based platform that is perfect for beginners. While it has both a free and paid version, the free version is already equipped with enough features to make this a powerful 3D modelling tool. It also comes with the 3D Warehouse, a 3D model repository where users can share their models with the 3D printing community.
The only thing lacking from the free version of Sketchup is the plug-in support which is the highlight of the paid version. Otherwise, the former is still a robust and intuitive 3D modelling tool.
Shapr3D is a "newcomer" to the CAD market, but they've done that with a punch. With Shapr3D it's easy to model anywhere, and on any device. Start on your iPad and finish on your Mac, maybe even refine on your office Windows PC a bit - it syncs seamlessly across them all.
Its intuitive UI helps you design products quickly. With its 3MF and STL output support, you'll be able to 3D print awesome products in no time.
Start your 3D modelling journey with these free CAD programs!
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