Why do we choose particular software for anything? Normally, because we want to be wowed by features that will make our lives easier and impress the world with the quality and spectacularity of our creative work.
Choosing software products can be daunting and overwhelming if you let it and choose to stray from the proven path. Sometimes it’s necessary and often just fun, but with 3D modeling there aren’t just several proven software products – because the industry is still in a nascent state (losing more and more every day) – there’s a long list of great software to come, and lots of good stuff to try.
We can’t support everything, so luckily i.materialise recently compiled a list of the top 25 most popular 3D modeling software tools that users are enjoying today. Looking at a number of different factors, and also using our 3DPrintBoard as a tool, the experts at i.materialise had to be very thoughtful in deciphering which software actually performs as the most popular.
“Simply looking at the number of users of a certain software would create a misleading picture: while some programs were created specifically for 3D printing communities (like Tinkercad), others are primarily used by visual artists. and game designers – and hardly by 3D printing enthusiasts,” the i.materialise team said in their blog post.
Before we start with the results, it’s important to note that i.materialise incorporated comprehensive, real data into this study, analyzing stats not only from social media and page rankings, but also from:
- Mentions on the 3D printing forum, such as in 3DPrintBoard.com
- 3D printing video mentions, like on YouTube
- 3D printing databases, as in the number of 3D models mentioned in conjunction with software
- Google rating on 3D printing, due to mentions related to 3D printing
It’s a pure popularity contest without regard to quality, although we think it’s safe to say that hordes of users focus on particular software for positive reasons regarding productivity and output quality. .
Although there are of course many debates within the industry, and you will also find them on our forum, regarding which software is better, which is buggy and which has potential, you simply cannot ignore the numbers – and they show Blender as the most popular 3D modeling software.
Open source and even still evolving, Blender turns out to be the big winner and has a particularly fond of sharing fan base within their community which makes extensive use of the many free software tools, despite a learning curve for a lot. Clearly, users at all levels find Blender worth the effort.
Many are probably surprised that SketchUp wasn’t in the top spot. Close. In second position, although this product is known as an excellent user-friendly medium for beginners, it is also used by a wide range of professionals and is also very popular with the education sector.
“SketchUp has also recently made it easier to prepare and share 3D printable objects and so it’s likely that its ‘database score’ will increase further in the near future,” the i.materialise team says on their blog.
The following spots give way to very solid software that we see many innovators using again and again with spectacular results, with SOLIDWORKS, AutoCAD and Maya. These are certainly seen commonly in the professional field and are obviously highly respected must-have tools.
While i.materialise expressed some surprise to see Tinkercad as high as number eight, we see the program very regularly used and, again, a proven favorite in the education sector. They point out that it is generally a gateway software that allows beginners to cut their teeth and then move on to more advanced software.
It’s more of a surprise to see Rhino and Grasshopper ranked separately and a bit lower, coming in at 13 respectively.e and 19e. Due to their characteristics and differentiations, the two have been separated; however, if they had been grouped together, i.materialise calculated that both handsets would have had 10e square. Classified as niche software, we’re warned not to be put off by the numbers here.
“Niche products also struggle to do well on this list – that doesn’t mean they’re worth less,” the i.materialise team says. “ZBrush (which ranked 9th) is by far the most popular digital sculpting software. When creating figurines, magical creatures, and any other organic objects, this is probably the most powerful software to go with.
Although ZBrush is software that we often hear about by innovators and 3D printing enthusiasts on many levels, 123D Design comes in at 11th place and OpenSCAD at 12th place.e. At position number 14 is MODO from The Foundry, a 3D modeling product we’ve written about before with interest, as they’re specialized enough for gaming, filmmaking, and serious design projects.
The i.materialise team also makes a special mention of software products such as MoI3D at number 21.
“Here, it is important to recognize that some publishers do not follow an aggressive online marketing strategy,” says i.materialise. “MoI3D, for example, does not have an official Facebook page or Twitter account. Most of its community sticks to the MoI discussion forum and looks for resources on the MoI wiki platform. It is logical that the score of software that seeks less external exposure is underestimated.
The last four programs are new stuff we should all watch out for, in the form of:
There are obviously a lot of different software that weren’t on the list worth exploring, and i.materialise in particular notes many other 3D modeling software names that you might want to recognize and explore.
Discuss your thoughts on these numbers, as well as the programs themselves, in the Top 25 Most Popular 3D Modeling Software forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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