Open source cad software for 3d printing

In this latest 2022 update, we have compiled a comprehensive list of the best free CAD software for 3D printing which can cater to people from students to professionals. These free software have some limitations but as starters, these software can be relied upon for learning and modelling purpose. These best CAD software for 3D Printing are a great source to quickly get some hands-on experience of designing.

Best Free CAD Software for 3D Printing

Let us look at some of the best free 3D CAD software for 3D printing available for beginners, intermediates and experts.

Tinkercad

Tinkercad is the simplest and one of the best free CAD software for 3D printing. It is a web-based 3D design tool. It starts with basic tutorials and helps you understand all the functionality step-by-step. You can learn the lessons anytime you want and as many times you want. This tool can be easily attractive to all new learners, enthusiasts, students, and even kids for that matter.

3D Slash

3D Slash is one of the best free cad programs for 3D printing learners. It is an easy-to-use software which lets you create models using a simple block building technique, much like Tinkercad. It is fun to use and interactive. Free STL files downloaded from Thingiverse can be edited in 3D Slash.

ZBrushCoreMini

ZBrushCoreMini is the scaled down version of the original and vastly popular ZBrush. These software programs are offered by Pixologic. The same company that brought Sculptris. But in mid-2020, Sculptris was discontinued and thus it is no longer available for download or support. The ZBrushCoreMini sits between Sculptris and the professional ZBrush software. This new software is a free digital sculpting solution with a streamlined interface designed to be incredibly easy for users of all ages and skill levels to learn.

ZBrushCoreMini is a 64-bit application and so will run on all modern computers. It also perform better than Sculptris but interestingly it also includes the Sculptris Pro features. Pixologic encourages all Sculptris users to switch to the new software.

F

reeCAD

CAD Software for 3D PRrinting

Above: Model created in FreeCAD software/Image Source: FreeCAD

As the name suggests, FreeCAD is a free and open-source parametric CAD software for 3D printing. It is a great starting point for engineers aiming to learn modelling. Since it operates on parametric modelling, designers can create complex models and also easily modify it. The UI is not aesthetically appealing but delivers great results.

It is a good start for engineers and non-engineers may find it a bit difficult to deal with at first.

Sketchup

Free

SketchUp Free is one of several products in the SketchUp software range that provides a free 3D printing CAD software. This is a web-based version offered to Engineers, Architects, Designers, and others frequently use it to avoid the hassle of downloading the software suite. Users can try the software and get a taste of the capabilities and then move on to the more premium software solutions such as SketchUp Pro.

Furthermore, the Sketchup library, known as 3D Warehouse, allows users to import user-generated and manufacturer-produced models directly into the existing design.

This software is widely used in the automotive and architectural industries.

Fusion360

Autodesk Fusion360 is a revolutionary next generation software which combined the CAD/CAM/CAE tools for a complete collaborative product innovation and development platform. It integrates the complete design to manufacture process in one complete package. It simply is the best free CAD software for 3D printing.

Fusion360 takes a cloud-based which lets you use the software irrespective of the OS and you can access your work from anywhere in the world.

It is available freely for a period of 3 years for students and Startups.

Blender

Blender is an open source and free CAD for 3D printing and provides a complete solution. It is commercial software and supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modelling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation. This software is mainly used in the animation industry. It can be called as the entry level professional software for 3D modelling and one of the best free CAD software for 3D printing.

PTC Creo Elements/Direct Modelling Express (Version 6.0)

PTC is a big name in the 3D modelling, designing field. The organisation has churned out numerous software solutions like the Computer Aided Design (CAD), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Service Lifecycle Management (SLM), etc.

PTC Creo Elements/Direct Modelling Express 6.0 is another of such solution for budding designers who have fair bit of modelling background. Though this module is freely available, it is not targeted towards a new learner. The user needs to have a fair bit of background in using direct of parametric modelling software before using direct elements.

It is preferred for experienced designers who have a hang of 3D modelling software for 3D printing.

Autodesk Maya & 3ds Max

Both these Autodesk software are good alternatives in addition to the above mentioned free CAD software for 3D printing.

Maya is much more than a regular 3D modelling software as it creates more life-like models. It is mostly used for animation, simulation and rendering purposes.

3ds Max is one of the most comprehensive modelling software and mostly used by game developers and graphic artists. This software is suited to users who have a background in animation and modelling on professional software like Maya.

Both these software are paid but they are freely available for students and Startups, similar to Fusion360 for a period of 3 years. Both these software are highly professional and rank high in some of the best free CAD software for 3D printing across all the modelling software.

Conclusion

With the rise in popularity of 3D printing and designing, the ned for engineers to learn 3D modelling has also increased. Designers today are expected to be familiar with CAD software for 3D printing. Although there are many other similar software programs, this list of the printing, best free 3D modelling software for 3D printing is a great place to start your design learning journey. This comprehensive list of the best free CAD software for 3D printing will give new learners a direction to start 3D modelling and enter the world of 3D printing.

About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Read more such informative articles on our 3D Printing Education page. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn.

Here is a selection of the best open-source 3D CAD software for 3D applications. You will mainly find software for advanced users, as these programs are addressed to professionals or programmers.

FreeCAD

FreeCAD is a parametric 3D modeling software. You don’t need previous experience with 3D modeling to use it, but you can totally achieve complex models with it, for engineering or architecture projects. Indeed, it has professional features adapted to work for mechanical engineering.  It can be used by anybody: home-users, designers, programmers, and even educators.

If you need to 3D print your part, check our tutorial to learn how to prepare your 3D model to 3D printing using FreeCAD.

Blender

Blender is a widely used open-source software. It is useful to create various 3D designs, from electronic projects to digital art. It can create impressive models, using polygonal modeling techniques. You can use Blender to create simulations and animations.

You need to be experienced with 3D modeling, but if you need a little help, Blender has a really large community, offering a lot of tutorials.

If you are planning to 3D print your model, check out our tutorial to prepare your design for 3D printing using Blender.

OpenSCAD

OpenSCAD is an open-source parametric software, that can be used to create 2D designs, and 3D models. It is a great tool to make 3D objects designed for additive manufacturing. While using OpenSCAD, you can’t modify directly with your mouse the CAD model that is in the viewer. This software uses its own language.

OpenSCAD is perfect if you need to create accurate models, but you have to keep in mind that it is really programmer-oriented.

openscad

Wings 3D

Wings 3D is a free open-source software. It offers a great variety of modeling tools, that could help you with all of your projects. It is a good software to create your CAD models and work on texture and materials. However, it is not the perfect tool if you need a CAD program for animation and rendering.

We have a tutorial that could help you to create your 3D model with Wings 3D.

wings3D

OpenCascade Technology

OpenCascade Technology is a complete 3D modeling tool: from modeling to visualization, everything is possible. The geometric, topological and visualization algorithms of this program will allow you to create 3D models for any type of sectors, just for visualization, or for manufacturing processes.

opencascade

SolveSpace

SolveSpace is a parametric 2D/3D modeling software. It is a good tool if you need an open-source CAD software to export your 3D files for 3D printing. It has all the basic features of a 3D software, and it is possible to make complex designs. You can work on the design of an object or process mechanical simulations with this program.

Art of illusion

Art of illusion is an animation oriented software. It is an open-source program, allowing to work on 3D modeling, texturing and material, but also able to make some rendering. Art of illusion is a high end animation program, powerful enough to be used professionally.

OpenJSCAD

OpenJSCAD is an open-source CAD program. It is quite similar to OpenSCAD, which we discussed previously in this blogpost, but the difference is that OpenJSCAD is a browser-based program. It is easier to use. Indeed, it is a good solution as you don’t need to install any software to create the 3D model that you want to 3D print.

Moreover, all the features are well explained on the website, you just have to follow the indications to create your own 3D designs.

JS Sketcher

JS Sketcher is a CAD program that you can access with your browser. This open-source parametric modeling software is written in javascript. For the moment, there are not too many features, so it is a simple software to use if you are just beginning with open-source programs, but you will still need a little bit of training at the beginning. This is a really promising software.

QCAD

QCAD is a free computer-aided design software. It is hosted on GitHub and is open to any contributions. This 2D CAD software offers a wide range of CAD tools. This CAD program can be extended through its complete ECMAScript (JavaScript) interface.

BRL CAD

This CAD tool software has been developed by Mike Muuss at the Army Research Laboratory and used by US military. They used it for academic, industrial, or even health applications. This solid modeling system has been around since 1984, it simply became an open-source project in 2004. 

It is now possible to use this program for engineering or graphic applications. 

LibreCAD

LibreCAD is a free open-source CAD with a large community of users, contributors, and developers. This 2D CAD software is really complete and useful for laser cutting projects, for example. The source code can be downloaded directly from GitHub.

Salome

The open-source CAD software Salome works with Microsoft as well as Linux. It offers a wide range of different tools like sculpting and shaping. The user can also benefit from many already existing shapes, fields, or meshes in 3D. Salome can be used by users from any level. 

LeoCAD

LeoCAD is a great open-source CAD software for all levels and offers a simplistic approach to the design process of a 3D model. This CAD software is available for macOS, Linux as well as Microsoft.

Written by Jane