Nowadays, if you want to get into 3D modeling, you don’t need to invest a lot of money in software! Free solutions exist on the market to get you started modeling your objects or customizing models that you have downloaded online. In the 3D printing workflow, modeling is an essential step to get to a successful print job, and one that might be intimidating to those without a lot of experience. However, while many might believe that free modeling software is only for beginners, this is far from the case. In the following list, we show you 10 free 3D modeling software that targets different levels of modeling experience (listed in alphabetical order).
3D Builder is a free 3D modeling application for viewing, creating, and customizing 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 3D modeling experience. This software allows you to create your objects by combining simple shapes, or from a 3D file that you download online and that you can customize according to your needs. Additional features include viewing and repairing, and easy-to-use customization tools. 3D Builder is also perfect for 3D printing as it supports the most important 3D printing file formats: STL, OBJ, 3MF, etc.
Free 3D modeling software Blender
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’s not only free, but also open-source, which means it’s constantly being improved. One of the most appealing benefits of Blender is that it supports the entire 3D pipeline, including modeling, animation, simulation, rendering, motion tracking, and more. This CAD software is cross-platform and works on Linux, Windows and Macintosh computers. Based on polygonal modeling, it is not necessarily the most used solution in the additive manufacturing sector, but it allows exporting 3D models in formats adapted to the technology.
The BlocksCAD program is one of the easiest to use free 3D modeling software. Adapted to the educational sector, the platform is very reminiscent of the LEGO system, since it is based on the construction of different blocks to obtain more complex final pieces. The online software consists of adding and subtracting geometric figures on a plane 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 then displayed on the plane on the right. One of its advantages is that it is compatible with OpenSCAD software, an open source program more advanced than this, so that the figures created can be transferred to the other program once the user has acquired more experience. Without a doubt, BlocksCAD is the perfect 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 features, 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 which will then take the later form of the three-dimensional idea. The interface is easy to use and lets you set different line orientations, such as angles, and then change their size. 3D models can also be designed 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.
Free 3D modeling software LeoCAD
Perfect for all Lego fans, LeoCAD was developed for anyone who wants to start creating models without spending too much time learning how to 3D model. The modeling process relies on Lego-like bricks that you can add to create 3D models. At the same time, this free 3D modeling software is suitable for more experienced users who want to create advanced models because it offers more complex features than it looks. 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 the LDraw parts library.
Meshmixer, 3D modeling software by Autodesk
Meshmixer is a free CAD software, part of the Autodesk software family. It’s not very typical CAD software because it doesn’t allow you to create your products from scratch. Instead, this software will help you with animating, modeling, zippering, hole-filling, hollowing, 3D surface stamping, and auto-repairing pre-existing models that you modify to create the your. 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 quite powerful, it allows easy fixing from one model to another, the software supports all nuances of 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, the user only needs to become familiar with the programming language. Once you get familiar with it, you can create very complex models and have full control over your designs. If modeling with OpenSCAD seems too complicated for you, you can first use the free software BlocksCAD and thus familiarize yourself with the type of modeling.
The 3D modeling software SketchUp Free is also known by its former name Sketch Up Maker, released in 2000. It is completely free and thanks to its easy handling it is also suitable for beginners. If necessary, the software also offers the possibility of accessing a library of ready-to-use and free 3D models. Alternatively, you can also create your own template. This surface modeling software lets you use a variety of paint, measure, and move tools. Export allows you to save created models as STL files or in the Trimble Connect cloud. If you want to work with extensions, you will 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 like 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 get the desired shape easily.
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 that offer 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 as . STL format to print it in 3D. Vectary also includes plenty of tutorials to help you improve your modeling skills, as well as a template library.
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