Do you own a 3D printer? or are you planning to buy one, but don’t know what software to use for 3D printing? You don’t have to worry anymore, this article will help you to know about different software for 3D printing that would let you build your favorite 3D models and give wings to your limitless imagination.
Here are 7 software you should check out!
7 Software to Use for 3D Printing
Do you like the cool anime 3D models you see on YouTube? Do you want to make one for yourself? If yes, then you don’t need to search for what software to use for 3D printing anymore. As Blender is one of the best 3D printing software programs you need to create such models. This free-to-use 3D printing software has multiple advanced features. Some of them are Modeling, Modifiers, UN Unwrapping, Dynamic Topology, and Masking.
In modeling, you can build your desired projects, there are many powerful tools offered here that you can use such as:
This lets you automatically add effects that won’t affect the base geometry of your model. Such effects can be very tiring to add and update on your own.
1.3 UN Unwrapping
Here, you can unwrap your model and spread it on a grid of verticals. Then add details to it as you like. For example, if you want to create an action model of the burning sword swift of Tanjiro from Demon Slayer.
Then you can spread the burning sword effect on the UN Unwrapping like flat layers. This makes it easier for you to add details to it and makes it more realistic and cooler.
Meanwhile, in Sculpting, you get a range of 20 different brushes. Some of them are Draw, Clay strips, Inflate, Blob, and many more, each having its specialty. This feature ensures to give you the experience of actually sculpting a model from your hands. Thus, giving you a better learning curve.
1.4.1 Mirrored Sculpting
Another powerful tool called Mirrored sculpting lets you save a lot of time. That’s by mirroring the details you sculpted on the right side to the left side.
Another sculpting method in Blender is called Dynamic Topology also known as Dyntopo. It aims to provide you with more efficiency and flexibility as an artist to create complex models. Normally when you are sculpting a model, you need to restructure its mesh manually. But in Dyntopo, it automatically adds more geometry to your mesh in real-time as you sculpt it. This means that you don’t need to spend any of your time on the technical aspects. Thus, you get more spare time to focus on subdivision modeling.
Now if you want to work on certain curved parts of your model which are generally difficult to access and add details to. This software program includes a feature called Masking. This feature lets you access such areas and add details to it. But as you have noticed, Blender has too many advanced settings for one to work through.
So if you are a casual user or beginner you might find it a little difficult to get a hang of things. But as you practice more, you will eventually get used to it. Also, Blender’s new update called Blender 3.6 has made it relatively easier for beginners to understand its use.
With its new update, now you have a couple of new advanced features like new hair assets and Vector Displacement Map (VDM) Brush. Now you can generate a variety of hairstyles for your model to make it look more realistic.
Talking about VDM Brushes, now we can add 3D shapes to the model we are sculpting. In the earlier versions, the brushes could only increase the height in one direction i.e. up and down. But now we can control the breadth and width of it.
What if I say that you just need to imagine a 3D model that could be printed into reality? Don’t believe it? Now you will, Tinkercad is such software where you just need to ask “What if?” and the rest of the product design process is all magic.
For example, What if Moon Knight had an Iron Man suit? or What if Superman had venom? here your imagination becomes the limit. As this is one of the best browser-based, computer-aided design (CAD) software for a casual user or beginner to use and create models in. So you don’t need to worry about learning to use this software as it has a very user-friendly interface.
As I said, if you don’t have much skill level or experience in using any other CAD software or creating models, you can still easily use it. The software even provides you with built-in tutorials for a better understanding of all its features. Even elementary school students can use it to learn about 3D modeling from scratch. There is an extensive library of pre-designed basic shapes.
You can access and join together as building blocks to create your desired 3D model. If you don’t like those pre-designed basic shapes, then you can import or design your own custom-made shapes. This gives wings to your imagination.
It offers parametric modeling, where you can even manipulate the size of your shapes by inputting your desired dimensions in it. But you may still think what if my model doesn’t come out of the size I desire it to be? So for better accuracy of the shapes, the software provides you with an inbuilt ruler to measure it.
So that your model’s head won’t come out bigger than its hand or legs. By this, the software eliminates all possibilities of imperfections in your model.
As this software is browser-based, this makes it much easier for you to access your projects from anywhere. You just need to log into the website from any system and continue working on your model.
Also, it won’t take up any extra space on your computer. There is one more feature in Tinkercad, where more than one person can work on a project simultaneously.
Now if you wish to share your projects with other users or your friends, then they don’t need to install any extra software to access the project file. They can just log in to the Tinkercad website and you can export files to them. This 3D design software also makes sure that there are infinite possibilities for you to design your models the way you want.
Now if you don’t want to manually build a model by grouping objects as building blocks, then you can even write codes to create a 3D model. To make your experience even better, Tinkercad lets you stack your codes like blocks with each other. By doing this, a beginner can also learn the principles of coding. You get all these amazing features for creating, coding, and printing for absolutely free on Tinkercad.
Are you still pondering the question of what software to use for 3D printing? Then let’s talk about another advanced 3D printing software called Vectary.
Here you don’t need to write codes or download and install things. Vectary software can also be used within your browser itself. It is one of the best software for 3D printing in a much easier and faster way.
Vectary lets you create models from scratch. The developers of this software, themselves aim to create a community. A community where individuals with no experience in 3D modeling can come, create, and showcase their imaginations on the site archive with like-minded people.
But if you don’t want to build your model from scratch, then Vectary even enables you to drop a pre-made 3D file. It also supports a variety of 60+ files including OBJ, STL, GLTF, and many more.
There is also a huge in-built custom library of pre-designed Vector objects. It lets you bring your imagination into reality. By any chance, if you want to go back to the older versions of your project designs then you don’t have to worry about it.
Now you don’t have to manually download each and every phase of your project for future use. That’s because Vectary keeps track of the past versions of your project in its version history tab. By this, you can save a lot of time and space in your system.
Recently it has introduced a pro version with a couple of new updates, which include the paid feature enabling you to store up to 100 projects at a time which means you don’t need to worry about deleting a particular project file at the cost of creating a new one.
You can texture-bake your models to add a more realistic touch to them, and even clone a set of models to save time. As it can come in handy if you are trying to build a battleground, which needs more than one set of characters of the same appearance. For instance, if you are trying to build a battleground for Dragon and Dungeons board game, the more the characters the better the story you could create with it.
Now if you ask, is Vectary free? Then I would say yes, but not completely free CAD software. Vectary offers three different packs for its user interface which range from Starter to Business pack to suit your needs.
The Starter pack is a basic version of the software, mainly for new users which is completely free of cost. It provides a design mode where you can build your model, a 3D asset library from where you can access the in-built library, and 3D optimized tools. Along with that, you can also import 2D files for use, a texture baker, you can even work on 10 projects simultaneously, and many more.
The Pro version or pack provides you with everything that was in the basic version as well as version history. It also lets you work on 100 projects simultaneously.
The Business pack is mainly designed for a team of individuals to work on a project for commercial use. Here you are offered various collaboration features, a dedicated success manager, and a management of workspace role. As well as all the features of the previous two packs, and many more.
4. Fusion 360
Next on the list of what software to use for the 3D- printing process is Fusion 360, one of the most renowned 3D printing software. Fusion 360 provides you with manufacturing tools to create your model which is integrated with CAD, CAM, and CAE.
The CAD software (Computer-Aided Design) means it lets you create accurate designs for your 3D model. CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) which means it converts your 3D digital designs created on the software into physical projects according to the measurement and dimensions you insert into it. And CAE (Computer-Aided Engineering) which is mainly used by mechanical engineers. So that they can test their designs under various simulations and understand how the model will perform under various conditions.
Taking its result into consideration they can make more improvements to perfect their model. You get to use all these features in single computer software, where you can build better and more accurate 3D models. Now let us talk about the features that make Fusion 360 stand out among other 3D printing software.
4.1. Open Source Software
Fusion 360 is open-source software and program, in the sense, not just limited to Windows users, even macOS users can access this software from their computers. They can even share their projects with their friends using the Cloud-based collaboration system. This software ensures that the model you build is perfect and functional by testing it through its wide range of analysis methods.
4.2. Analysis Methods
Such methods include Shape optimization in which the software automatically adjusts the model’s parameters to let it perform better under various given circumstances. Then there is Event simulation which lets you analyze and calculate your designed model’s mass, acceleration, inertia, velocity, and damping effects to give you a better understanding of your model’s performance. Then Static Stress Analysis, helps you to identify the areas where your model experience high stress that can lead to its deformation and many more.
Fusion 360 also provides you with a number of video series that would help any beginner understand how to make mesh modeling and create 3D models in this software. At times, one may find it a little difficult to convert your mesh into a solid model. But this software makes it relatively simpler through the various tools it provides. It’s not just that, there is more than one way for you to turn your mesh into a model.
It has T-Splines technology that enables you to create complex surfaces for smooth and flexible shapes of your model. This slicing software also lets you control the level of print quality you want to add to your 3D model.
Now if you want to create sheet metal designs, then you can do that here too, by using your 2D drawings for creating flat patterns and bending your model’s features to the certain level you desire. Fusion 360 offers you a 30-day free trial for your personal use as a creator to try their product and check if it is as user-friendly as it claims to be. In these 30 days, you can go wild on your imagination and try all its features as well as all its extensions too, that means now you can shoot for the moon and create the model you always wanted.
Modo is considered to be one of the most powerful and flexible 3D modeling software used for creating unique models. It aims to empower and encourage artists to explore their skills and bring their ideas into real working models. Modo is best known for its award-winning MeshFusion Boolean toolset.
This toolset lets the artist blend various mesh and 3D objects together in order to build a model. This enables you to define each part of your own 3D printing model separately and add more details about it. This becomes very handy if you planning to build a very complex model, which can’t be built in normal 3D printing software with limited features or resources. Regarding its other features, Modo provides you with a few other features:
5.1. Direct Modelling
Here you can manipulate the geometry of your 3D model and its objects. That means you can change their dimension and duplicate it in different patterns as well as arrangements. In order to avoid repetitive modeling, you can even save looks or objects which you feel would be needed again to build your model. Also use can save different variants in Modo too.
For example, if you want to move your object sideways then you just need to map it to a key as a shortcut and save it for future use. By this, you don’t have to access the technical aspect and edit the keys every now and then. Such presets can also be shared with your friends in different file types of files.
As Modo accepts a wide variety of file formats to promote effective workflow and collaboration. Now if you are building a unique model, whose objects aren’t available in Modo’s in-built library. Then you can even create your own objects or tools using Modo’s Toolpipe, enabling custom tool creation for its users.
5.2. Procedural Modeling
This feature lets you create your model in efficient ways. You create your models on a working plan, which is by default a 2D plane and it is adaptive. That means based on the direction you are looking at your model, it will let you move the objects sideways or up and down. You can even align the work plan, which means if you want to move a set of objects to any other part of the model you can do that easily. Even without disrupting the whole model. There is an option called Symmetry which when enabled identifies objects which are not symmetrical on the axis. Then it edits them automatically symmetrically, thus perfecting your model easily.
In Modo, we can also select individual or group components very easily. Here, you can select them in a pattern and loop, you can even expand them, contract them, and even invert such selected components. One other handy tool is the Polygon editing tool, which allows the user to slice the model, slide, bridge, and even extend the parts of the model easily. Modo offers all its new users a free version of its software for a trial period of 30 days, where you can test Modo’s efficiency and effectiveness in different ways. Only after ending the trial period, do you need to decide whether to continue with this software or look for some other software tools and programs.
Rhinoceros, popularly known as Rhino 3D, is a classic 3D printing and design software mainly built for early learners and experts to use and build 3D models. This software is very user-friendly as it aims to provide its users with every possible tool that they need to edit their sketches and create 3D models. That means it eliminates all possible obstacles restraining you from creating your desired model.
Rhino provides you with a wide range of 3D modeling tools at affordable prices with no maintenance fees involved, such features and tools would usually cost you a relatively costlier price in other 3D printing software. With this software, you can create designs for automobiles, architectural buildings, and 3D models. Rhino 7 is based on NURBS which stands for Non-Uniform Rational B-splines. In simple words, it is a vector-based design software that lets you create smooth and precise curves for your model.
You don’t need a very fast computer to run this software. All it needs is a normal system with no extra or special hardware installed in it. So you don’t need to worry about the software getting crashed or freezing in the middle of your project. It is also fairly easy to learn, which means you don’t need to spend much of your time learning how to work through the tools and plugins. You can even access this software on both Windows and macOS.
Its new update is called Rhino 7, which adds a couple of new commands and improvements to the existing tools. That includes new features like SubD Modeling which lets you create highly accurate shapes and enables quick editing of Subdivision Surface geometry. As well as, the QuadRemesh tool that lets you create a clean and efficient mesh that makes your 3D models look more good and realistic and many more.
This new update also lets you have more control over editing your model. That is by manipulating the sub-objects like the model’s face; refining it more, its edges; for better smoothness, and much more. In some 3D printing software, it takes time to load models or projects which involve too much detailing. But in Rhinoceros it is the opposite. Here models with detailed views and text objects display significantly faster. This software also supports transparent colors on layers and objects to enhance their detailing.
Rhino 7 offers its new users a 90-day trial period of its free version, where they can access all its features and plugins. After the completion of the trial period, your plugins will stop working and you need to buy the paid version with a license key. Once you buy it, then you can become one of the advanced users, who can access all the plugins, including the developer tools. You can even access this software program in offline mode too.
Now talking about the last software on the list of ‘What software to use for 3D modeling and printing‘ which is MeshLab. Here as the name denotes the user gets a proper lab to create their mesh for models and test it. To get a better understanding of its model’s physical stability and performance in the real world. So that you can produce a good quality 3D model which lasts longer than ordinary plastic models.
This software is mainly dedicated to creating 3D models and printing them. This means that you can get all the possible features that you have come across on this list in this particular software. MeshLab is a free and open-source software that is subjected to the requirements of GPL which stands for General Public License, a license widely used by free software that enables users to share, study, modify, and run it.
First off it reduces the geometric complexity involved in creating a 3D model. It aims to reduce the number of points to connect in a mesh. In order to do that, it simplifies the mesh to a triangular surface. Thus, it connects only three points in total. It also provides resampling filters which increase the geometric complexity of the 3D models and optimize the distribution of points.
By this point-to-point measurement of the model also becomes very easy. The software also has automatic filters that can calculate different geometric information on the mesh of the 3D model. You can also manipulate the colors of your model using Photoshop-like features. By this, you can change its gamma, brightness, smoothness, saturation, etc.
Then using the automatic filters, you can also calculate the Volumetric Obscurance and Ambient Occlusion. This setting is commonly used by video game developers and film directors to shadow the ambient light. It enables you to highlight specific parts or characteristics of your 3D model, giving it a realistic effect.
To build the inner shell of your model, MeshLab lets you use its features called slicing and flattening. Through such features, you are able to ensure that you don’t leave any open areas and create flat platforms or bottom areas for your model to stand with good balance. Its other feature called Raster Layers lets you go beyond the conventional 3D standards and import 2D images and entities into your project. Its new update has aimed to fix its old bugs on filters and roll out new features to improve the quality program, its software tools, and its uses. It increases the rendering speed of the software, adds new filters, rewrites the internal rendering system, and many more. You can use MeshLab on Windows, MacOS, and Linux too.
I hope this article on ‘What software to use for 3D printing?’ helped you identify the best 3D printing software, that suits you the best. If you are a beginner, who is trying to figure out how to build a 3D model and understand its basic concepts, then this article helps you get a basic understanding of the features you need for an ideal 3D printing software.
Hopefully, this has answered all your questions related to what each feature does, and why certain features are required to print a good 3D model. Moreover, the techniques by which you could add depth to your model and make it more realistic.
1. What type of software is best used for 3D modeling?
There is a huge list of 3D modeling and printing software online. Browser-based software is considered better for those users with limited internal storage on their system. They not only save space but can also share files with other users without forcing them to install that software into their computers. Software that enables its users to detail their model with utmost precision can be considered better, as you can print complex models through it.
Not only that, but it should also let its users test the models under various conditions, as it can be helpful for professional use. But above all this, what makes an ideal 3D software stand out is whether its offered features and settings are compatible and easy for you to use or not.
2. Does Adobe have a 3D modeling program for 3D printing?
Yes, Adobe does provide its user with a 3d modeling program, called Adobe Substance 3D Collection. Here you can sculpt your 3D models with digital clay. That means you can mold your models with powerful shaping tools.
Moreover, this program ensures to handle all the technical aspects of modeling, while you can enjoy designing your model. That involves all kinds of models, like complex, simple, or a whole battleground or scenes. Adobe’s 3d software has tools for it all. You can even switch between your desktop and VR headset, whatever matches your comfort.