10 Free 3D modeling software programs
These days, if you wish to get started with 3D modeling, no need to invest much money in software! Free solutions exist on the market to get started with modeling your objects or personalizing models that you have downloaded online. In the 3D printing workflow, modeling is an essential step to arrive at a successful print job, and one that might intimidate those that don’t have much experience. However, even though many might believe that free modeling software is only meant for beginners, this is far from being the case. In the following listing we present to you 10 free 3D modeling software programs that target different levels of experience in modeling (listed by alphabetical order).
3D Builder is a free 3D modeling app that enables to view, create and personalize 3D objects. Developed by Microsoft Corporation, it is only available for Windows. The great feature of 3D Builder is that it is suitable for any user with or without experience in 3D modeling. This software allows you to create your objects by combining simple shapes, or to start from a 3D file that you download online and can customize according to your needs. Additional features include view and repair, as well as easy to use personalization tools. 3D Builder is also perfect for 3D printing as it supports the most important 3D printing file formats: STL, OBJ, 3MF, etc.
Blender free 3D modeling software
Created in 1995, Blender is a complete 3D modeling software, very popular in the world of animation and video thanks to the many features it offers. It is not only free, but also open-source, which means that it is constantly being improved. One of Blender’s most attractive advantages is that it supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline, including modeling, animation, simulation, rendering, motion tracking, etc. This CAD software is cross-platform and runs on Linux, Windows, and Macintosh computers. Based on polygonal modeling, it is not necessarily the most widely used solution in the additive manufacturing sector, but it does allow 3D models to be exported in formats adapted to the technology.
The program BlocksCAD is one of the easiest to use as a free 3D modeling software. Tailored to the educational sector, the platform reminds a lot of the LEGO system, since it is based on the construction of different blocks to obtain more complex final parts. The online software consists of adding and subtracting geometric figures on a plan with 3 main axes (x, y, z). To do this, the figures, actions and parameters must be placed on the left side of the screen, so that they are later displayed on the plan on the right-hand side. One of its advantages is that it is compatible with OpenSCAD software, an open source program more advanced than this one, so the figures created can be transferred to the other program once the user has gained more experience. Without a doubt, BlocksCAD is the ideal solution to get started with 3D modeling software, and it’s free!
Developed by Jürgen Riegel, Werner Mayer and Yorik van Havre, FreeCAD is one of the best known 3D modeling software for having advanced functionalities, being open source and free. The program is compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac, and supports a large number of formats such as STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DEX, OBJ, IFC and DAE. For the creation of 3D models, you must start with a 2D sketch that will then take the subsequent shape of the three-dimensional idea. The interface is easy to use and allows you to define different orientations of the lines, such as angles, and then modify their size. The 3D models can also be desinged through a process called “filling”. Currently, FreeCAD has over 25,000 members in its community, making it one of the most popular options among 3D modeling software programs.
LeoCAD free 3D modeling software
Perfect for any Lego fans, LeoCAD was developed for any user that wishes to start creating models without spending too much time learning how to 3D model. The modeling process relies on Lego-like bricks you can add to build 3D models. At the same time this free 3D modeling software is suitable for more experienced users that want to create advanced models as it offers more complex features than first meets the eye. Moreover, LeoCAD is open-source and available for Windows, Linus, macOS. You can start modeling from scratch, but the platform also provides over 10,000 different parts that you can download directly from LDraw parts library.
Meshmixer, 3D modeling software by Autodesk
Meshmixer is a free CAD software, a part of the Autodesk software family. It is not a very typical CAD software, since it does not allow to create your products from scratch. Instead, this software will help you with animation, modeling, zippering, hole filling, hollowing, 3D surface stamping, and auto repair of pre-existing models that you modify to make your own. One of its biggest advantages is that you can modify the 3D model without worrying too much about its 3D topology – since the mesh-mix functionality is rather powerful, it enables an easy attachment of one model to another, the software takes care about all the nuances of the mesh modification.
Another free modeling software is called OpenSCAD, it is an open source CAD software that creates 3D models from scripts. Simple geometric elements can be modified to create complex 3D models. For this purpose, the user only needs to become familiar with the programming language. Once you are familiar with it, you can create highly complex models and have complete control over your designs. If modeling with OpenSCAD seems too complicated to you, you can first make use of the free software BlocksCAD and thus become familiar with the type of modeling.
The 3D modeling software SketchUp Free is also known under its former name Sketch Up Maker, which was released in 2000. It is completely free of charge and thanks to its easy handling it is also suitable for beginners. If required, the software also offers the possibility of accessing a library of ready-made, free 3D models. Alternatively, you can also create your own model. This surface modelling software allows you to use a variety of painting, measuring and moving tools. Export allows you to save the created models as STL files or in the Trimble Connect cloud. If you want to work with extensions, you’ll need to use the paid SketchUp Pro software.
Developed by the giant Autodesk, Tinkercad is an online modeling solution mainly dedicated to beginners, teachers and children. It is based on the construction geometry of solids which means that the user will model his object by combining solid shapes such as cubes, cylinders, etc. The resulting 3D models will be more or less complex, just like a LEGO construction. They can be exported in three different formats, STL, OBJ and SVG, allowing you to print your favorite designs. This free modeling software also provides a library of files that users can modify to easily obtain the desired shape.
Vectary 3D modeling software
Vectary is a modeling solution designed by two 3D designers. It is an online platform that includes a 100% free version and other paid solutions offering more features. The free version is available directly from your browser and allows you to model up to three 3D projects at the same time from solid shapes (cubes, cylinders, capsules, spheres, etc.) Once the model is ready, you can export it in .STL format to print it in 3D. Vectary also includes many tutorials to help you improve your modeling skills, and a library of models.
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