3D printing technology developed a lot over the past years. Due to many improvements and innovations, 3D technology has been able to take a strong position in the economy and many fields of people’s life. Nowadays, 3D printing technology is successfully used by a lot of people around the world. 3D models have been successfully applied in a variety of fields, ranging from medicine and manufacturing to everyday people’s life.

However, creating your first 3D model is not an easy task. It sometimes becomes frustrating to work with 3D modeling tools, and if you are a beginner, it can take days or even weeks to design and print a simple structure.

14. Sculptris
Price: Free
Platform: Windows / macOS

Sculptris is a virtual software program that mainly focuses on the concept of clay sculpting. Sculptris is the most suitable choice if your project revolves around creating statues or characters from comics and video games.

Although the program is great for beginners, it still contains many incredible features that make 3D sculpting very easy. For example, in Sculpt mode, you can edit the mesh geometry with simple brush strokes. In paint mode, you can easily draw textures wrapped around the mesh surface.

Sculptris regularly analyzes the surface of the model to make sure the details are projected correctly and automatically adds polygons as needed.

Overall, it provides an impressive view of the 3D world. You can create basic models and then enhance them in other complex programs such as ZBrush. Sculptris is made compatible with ZBrush, so users can import their work into advanced 3D tools when they’re ready to take their designs to the next level.

13. Wings 3D

Price: Free
Platform: Windows / macOS / Linux

Wings 3D is open-source software that uses an internal data structure to store coordinates and adjacency data. There are four different selection modes for changing model geometry: Edge, Vertex, Face, and Body. Each has its own set of mesh tools that offer both basic and advanced features.

Standard tools (such as move, scale, rotate, bevel, bridge, cut, and weld), the mirror (for symmetric modeling), and smooth preview function make it easy to create a 3D model.

Although it does not support animation, you can use it to create mid-range polygon models and add textures and materials using AutoUV renderers and OpenGL renderers. Then you can export the file to external renderers such as YafRay and POV-Ray.

12. Vectary

Price: Free / Premium version starts at $ 9 per month
Platform: Web browser

Vectary provides an easy and intuitive way to get started with creating 3D and AR (Augmented Reality) content. It comes with a big, fast-growing library of free scenes and models that helps you not to waste extra time making models and also speed up your work in 3D.

You can choose between many hight quality preselected and lit scenes for product shots, abstract graphic backgrounds, and a wide range of fully textured materials, from wood and fabric to frosted glass and pavement.

Vectary also has viewport navigation, subdivision modeling, composition abstractions, and many visual effects for quality rendering. They are all geared towards optimizing your creative expression. You can create your first short with a simple drag and drop and get a realistic result in minutes.

11. Slic3R

Price: Free
Platform: Windows / macOS / Linux

Slic3r is open source software, licensed under the AGPLv3 license. Slic3r helps you generate G-code in batch form, export SVG slices, and convert between 3D formats. Slic3R is capable of handling complex models, generating fill patterns, and estimate G-code printing time.

The software is equipped with a variety of configuration options that allow users to customize and fully control their projects. Slic3r reads STL, AMF, and OBJ files while it can output G-code and SVG files.

Users can choose to print a thicker infill to benefit from low layer heights on perimeters and still keep print time within a required amount. Slic3r will control the print speed to ensure that each layer has enough time to cool down before applying the next layer.

10. PrusaSlicer

Price: Free
Platform: Windows / macOS / Linux

PrusaSlicer (formerly known as Slic3r Prusa Edition or Slic3r PE) has everything you need to create a 3D object: an intuitive interface, convenient keyboard shortcuts, and various controls that make it easy to scale, rotate, cut, and move objects.

When installing the software, you will find several mods to adjust the parameters depending on your skill level. With the built-in Support Enforcer, you can selectively apply supports to individual objects. You can even choose the layer height for each part of the object separately.

PrusaSlicer will take care of the anti-aliasing automatically, so the output looks its best while the print time remains good. It can be used to slice the model for both FDM (Fused deposition modeling) and resin 3D printers.

9. OnShape

Price: From $ 1,500 per user per year / Free for teachers and students Platform: Web browser / iOS / Android

OnShape is a one-stop product development platform that brings all your stakeholders together in a single, secure cloud-based workspace. It uses cloud computing extensively, with CPU intensive processing and rendering being done on internet servers.

It is specially designed for professional users looking for version control and better collaboration capabilities. Team members can manage projects without saving copies or tracks of different versions of files. Perhaps the most impressive feature of this tool is its ability to help executives make better business decisions through real-time analytics.

This tool has proven its effectiveness in many industries, including 3D printing, mechanical equipment, machine parts, medical devices, consumer electronics, industrial equipment.

Although the standard version costs $ 1,500 per year, it is free for teachers and students. If you’re a hobbyist, you can also use it for free for non-commercial projects in an open-source working environment.

8. PTC Creo
Price: 30-day trial / $ 2,390 per license for one year
Platform: Windows

Creo is a suite of CAD(Computer-aided design) applications specifically designed to address the challenges organizations face when creating, analyzing, and communicating with downstream partners. It is developed by Parametric Technology Corporation, an American software development company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.

Creo introduces a new extension, Generative Topology Optimization, which allows you to create high-quality designs that perform better in real life. It also contains tools for direct 3D modeling, 2D spelling, technical illustrations, schematic design, and finite element analysis and modeling.

The premium version includes manufacturing processing, Modeler options, topology optimization, metal printing, tolerance analysis, and more. All in all, it’s a great tool for power users and small businesses.

7. Rhinoceros 3D
Price: 90 days free trial / $ 995 one-time payment
Platform: Windows / macOS

Rhinoceros is a versatile 3D modeler that uses NURB (Mathematical Model) to allow users to manipulate points, curves, surfaces, meshes, and solids the way they want. There are literally no limits on complexity, degree, or size outside of your equipment.

It has an extremely detailed interface that can display countless viewports, perspective working views, floating views, clipping planes, two-point perspective, etc. Built-in enhancement tools ensure that the 3D models used throughout the entire process are of the highest possible quality.

64-bit support and extended support for graphics coprocessors allowed Rhinoceros to work with large point clouds. The latest version is compatible with hundreds of different CAD, rendering, and animation products.

6. MeshLab

Price: Free
Platform: Windows / macOS / Linux

MeshLab is open-source software for editing and manipulating 3D triangular meshes. It contains many functions for checking, editing, texturing, rendering, and transforming meshes.

With the visualization function, you can graphically represent the finest details of a 3D model, control the perspective of the camera, or use a built-in one. Move different grids to a common frame of reference, restore the shape of any object, and easily control its scale, position, and orientation.

There are many Photoshop-style filters for adjusting vertex and face colors such as brightness, contrast levels, gamma, saturation, sharpness, and anti-aliasing. There are also additional filters for calculating volumetric shading and ambient occlusion and matching them with the color of vertices and faces.

MeshLab’s work can be traded with other popular third-party tools, including SketchFab, Autodesk, and Blender. This makes it easy to expand your project and models with multiple 3D programs.

MeshLab has been used for rapid prototyping in orthopedic surgery, desktop manufacturing, and various academic and research contexts such as surface reconstruction, paleontology, and microbiology.

5. MatterControl

Price: Free
Platform: Windows / macOS / Linux

MatterControl is a comprehensive software package that allows you to design, cut, and manage 3D prints. You can browse existing designs (by visiting Design Apps) or create objects from scratch using Design Tools.

MatterControl has advanced 3D design capabilities that make it easy to create high-quality models with higher complexity than traditional CAD tools. For example, it has real-time Z offset adjustment and built-in controls for dual extrusion printing.

If you have a dual extruder 3D printer, the software makes it easy to choose which extruder will print certain parts. Once the model is imported or created, you have the ability to remove or replace parts, align them to their origin, and tell the printer which extruder to use for specific areas of the design.

4. SolidWorks

Price: Available upon request
Platform: Windows

SolidWorks is computer-aided engineering (CAE) and computer-aided design (CAD) software for Microsoft Windows. SolidWorks is used by over two million engineers and designers at more than 165,000 companies.

The software is written on Parasolid-kernel and uses a parametric functional method to develop models and assemblies. It’s pretty easy to get started with, and it comes packed with features.

While 3D sketches are available for professional users, most people start with 2D sketching. A sketch contains geometry in the form of points, arcs, lines, cones, and splines. You can add dimensions (to define the location and size of geometry) and connections (to define attributes such as perpendicularity, parallelism, tangency, and concentricity).

The software automatically generates views of a solid model. You can easily add notes and dimensions to your drawing at any time. Your work is saved in the Microsoft Structured Storage file format so you can open and modify it on other platforms from other vendors.

3. Fusion 360
Price: 30-day free trial / $ 495 per year
Platform: Windows / macOS

Fusion 360 is a cloud-based 3D CAD software developed by Autodesk. It handles the entire process of designing, testing, and executing a 3D structure.

The software offers complete control over form design and provides robust features for creating clean and highly detailed models. This allows prototyping and validation of designs before fast production.

You can even digitally simulate your products to ensure they stand up to real-life conditions. Structural test and shape optimization options allow you to determine the stresses caused by static loads on parts and identify unnecessary areas in the project and helps significantly reduce the cost of prototyping.

Overall, Fusion’s full suite of modeling tools makes it one of the best products for designers, mechanical engineers, and machinists.

2. CATIA

Price: Available upon request
Platform: Windows / Unix

CATIA is probably the leading 3D printing software for professional users. This means an automated 3D interactive application.

Developed in 1977 by the French company Dassault Systemes, CATIA provides a unique opportunity to model complex products. Over the years, it has evolved into more than a CAD software package: it is now a software package that includes not only CAD but all manufacturing capabilities developer may need.

The software has a large library with all the materials needed to develop projects at various scales. Unlike other 3D modeling tools of its kind that require a powerful PC, CATIA can run on budget desktops and laptops.

CATIA is used in many industries such as aerospace, plant design, industrial and defense equipment, automotive, construction, and architecture.

1. Cura

Price: Free
Platform: Windows / macOS / Linux

Cura is an open-source 3D printer slicer application. It is available under the LGPLv3 license so that you can integrate it with third-party CAD applications.

Like other 3D printing software, it splits the model file into multiple layers and generates a printer-specific G-code. Its super clean interface and minimalistic layout allow you to add any additional features or options you might need. Then you can send this G-code to the printer and printing the physical object.

Cura is compatible with almost all desktop 3D printers and supports common 3D formats such as OBJ, STL, 3MF, X3D. It also works with image file formats like PNG, JPG, GIF, and BMP.