Best 3D Printing Software for Every Level of User

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3D printing is a process of creating three-dimensional objects from a digital model. It has gained immense popularity in the past few years and will only become more popular in the future.

3D printing software allows you to create detailed, high-quality prints using your printer. What software should you use to make the best prints possible? Choosing the best 3D printing software for you can be challenging because so many alternatives are available.

This article will discuss our top 7 picks for the best 3D printing software!

What is 3D Printing Software?

3D printing is a revolutionary technology that allows anyone to turn an idea into a physical product. It is a manufacturing process where you can take literally any computer 3D model and turn it into a tangible object.

3D printing software, also known as 3D modeling software, is a program used to visualize three-dimensional models in a digital format, which is then used to print actual physical objects.

It is the application that allows 3D printers to function. It enables the reading of 3D model files and the precise transmission of model data to the printer.

3D printing software evaluates design models to ensure that parts are interpreted accurately and prints are of high integrity. It also provides simulation features, troubleshoots problems, and updates the progress of print in real-time.

Review Of Our Top Picks

There are several 3D printing software options available nowadays. This review will cover the features of some of the best 3D printing software currently on the market.

Autodesk Fusion 360

Overall Best 3D Printing Software

Fusion 360 is a cloud-based modeling software created by Autodesk. It is a highly sought-after software because it is an all-in-one solution for the whole production process.

Autodesk Fusion 360 has strong design analysis capabilities that allow users to evaluate their ideas in various scenarios. Thermal expansion and contraction, strength, stress drop, vibration, and a variety of other parameters can be tested by users before printing.

Features

  • It has excellent collaboration features.
  • It has a cloud storage feature.
  • It is enabled with fused filament fabrication.
  • It offers surface, parametric, and mesh modeling features.
  • It offers digital and cloud simulation features
  • It has a robust shape optimization feature.

Pricing

The duration of your term determines the price of Autodesk Fusion 360. It costs $60 if paid monthly, while it costs $42 per month if paid annually.

Pros

  • It delivers high-quality products in a short time.
  • It allows for accurate editing of objects.
  • It is suitable for the production of advanced 3D parts.
  • It allows users to work with multiple models in a single project.

Cons

  • It has limited free modeling capability.
  • It is not beginner-friendly.

Autodesk AutoCAD

Most Popular 3D Printing Software

AutoCAD, another product of Autodesk, is a 3D modeling software that offers both web and smartphone applications. It is a very flexible 3D printing program with a wide range of 3D model creation options.

AutoCAD can be used to solve a wide range of design modeling problems. It is also utilized in various sectors, including architecture, engineering, construction (AEC), manufacturing, media, and entertainment.

Features

  • Its collaboration feature makes working with a team swift.
  • The software comes with plugins for building product designs such as doors and windows.
  • It offers a web and smartphone application.
  • It comes with preloaded design templates.
  • It has a robust component library.
  • It has an easy-to-use interface.

Pricing

The cost of the premium version per year is $1449. A free edition of AutoCAD is also available for academic research purposes.

Pros

  • It has a lot of advanced tools that make it easy to create complex designs. 
  • It has an intuitive interface that improves the design process.

Cons

  • It can be challenging to master.

SketchUp

Best Beginner Friendly 3D Printing Software

SketchUp is an advanced yet simple-to-use 3D printing software. It comes with preloaded templates and plugins for building product designs that assist architects and designers in achieving more in a short time.

With one click, users can convert 3D models to 2D and vice versa, making it easy for professionals to showcase 3D models to clients. 

Features

  • It comes with professional, pre-made 3D models.
  • It has a great collaboration feature.
  • It features cloud storage.
  • It has a VR model view mode.
  • It is enabled for iPad, web, and desktop.

Pricing

SketchUp pro cost $299 yearly, SketchUp Shop cost $119 yearly while SketchUp Studio cost $1,199 yearly.

Pros

  • SketchUp makes designing in 3D easy.
  • It has a user-friendly interface.
  • It supports third-party extensions.

Cons

  • It has limited file format compatibility

Autodesk Maya

Most Advanced 3D Printing Software

Maya, another 3D software product from Autodesk, is a high-quality software for a wide range of 3D modeling tasks. Maya has an animation feature that makes it unique. It can equally handle 3D printing modeling and prototype simulations.

Features

  • It offers a polygon modeling feature.
  • It has a fantastic color management feature.
  • It offers highly customizable features.
  • It offers cloud storage.
  • It has excellent collaboration features.

Pricing

Maya has three pricing options; $5,085 paid every three years, $1,785 paid annually, and $225 to be paid monthly.

Pros

  • Maya has a large support community.
  • It is great for animations.
  • It can handle highly complex models.
  • It is updated regularly.

Cons

  • It is not beginner-friendly.

Ultimaker Cura

Most Customizable 3D Printing Software

Ultimaker Cura is frequently regarded as the best choice for 3D printers. It is an open-source software program that allows smooth 3D printer integration. Cura is easy to use and has advanced functions for professional users.

Features

  • It has highly efficient slicing features.
  • It offers quick access to modification tools to scale 3D models.
  • It has recommended settings function for quick printing.
  • It has advanced collaboration tools.
  • It has an automatic shrinkage plate feature.
  • It has an automatic support interface feature.
  • It offers an automatic scaling feature.

Pricing

Cura is free for individual use and educational purposes. However, It has paid packages for use by organizations.

Pros

  • It is easy to use.
  • It provides helpful tips to new users.
  • It is regularly updated to improve features and printing experience.

Cons

  • No instructional guide is provided with the software.

Onshape

Most Versatile 3D Printing Software

OnShape is one of the best cloud-based 3D printing software. It’s an all-in-one design, collaboration, analytics, and data management system.

OnShape has intelligent custom features that make it suitable for both beginners and professionals. It is affordable and has a free trial version.

Features

  • It has an excellent team collaboration feature.
  • It is Cloud-based.
  • It is web and mobile-enabled.
  • It offers up-to-the-minute analytics and reporting tools.
  • It has a simultaneous editing feature.
  • It has a simplified view-only mode.
  • It offers an automation feature to aid workflow.
  • It is highly customizable.
  • Live chat and commenting are enabled on screen.

Pricing

OnShape has a trial version that has limited features. For advanced features, you can purchase any of the three plans; 

  • Professional: The professional plan costs $2,100 per user per year.
  • Standard: This plan costs $1,500 per user per year.
  • Enterprise: The price for this plan is only available by inquiry.

Pros

  • Onshape’s platform is well secured.
  • It is easy to use.
  • It has easy data sharing capabilities.

Cons

  • Users can not access its platform without an internet connection.

Creo

Best Parametric 3D Printing Software

Creo is a computer-aided design software suite consisting of Creo Parametric, Creo Simulate, and Creo View. It uses a parametric feature-based technique to create models. It also has remarkable motion, structural, and thermal features.

Creo offers superior skills for designing, simulating, and printing 3D objects. It uses information from models applied in the actual world to produce more intelligent designs. 

Features

  • Creo has highly customizable menus.
  • It has flexible modeling features.
  • It has great sculpting tools.
  • It offers a library of preloaded templates.

Pricing

This software costs $2,310 for a one-time license. You can test it for free within 30 days.

Pros

  • It provides designers with a variety of tools to produce beautiful designs.
  • It is easy to learn.
  • It employs IoT to iterate faster.
  • It offers real-time simulation.
  • It offers cross-platform collaboration.

Cons

  • It is difficult to set up and takes time to master.

Buyer’s Guide For The Best 3D Printing Software 

The kind of 3D printing software to use depends on your needs and experience. There is free, easy-to-use 3D printing software for beginners and paid, specialized software for professionals and manufacturers. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing a 3D printing software:

Functionality

3D printing software varies in features and functions. The functions to look out for depends on the object you intend to print. More complex objects require advanced functions not included in beginner-friendly software.

Be aware some programs have outdated features. Ensure that the software you purchase has the features you need and is regularly updated.

Type of 3D Printer

Getting it right with 3D printing software is not enough. To take your ideas from digital to physical, your software will need a compatible 3D printer to make it happen.

There are 3D printers that work only with particular file types. If the 3D printing software you are working with does not understand the language of the printer you have available, it is all a waste.

Price

Many free 3D printing software exists, but the best programs are paid for. The paid programs of 3D software include more outstanding features and support than free ones. Costs might take the form of one-time fees, recurring monthly charges, or annual fees.

Experience level

3D printing is a technical procedure that requires expertise and experience. Your experience in 3D printing will determine the type of software to opt for. Some software has sophisticated dashboards that consumers find challenging to operate.

Beginners should stick with 3D printing software with simple interfaces and intuitive design tools, while professionals can handle more advanced and specialized tools.

Support and Community

Before making your purchase, ensure that the 3D printing software you opt for has a support team or an active online community you can always turn to in case of problems.

FAQs

What Is 3D Printing Software?

3D printing software is a program that translates a 3D model into the language a 3D printer understands. 3D printing software enables designers, architects, and manufacturers to quickly produce high-quality objects, parts, and prototypes at a reduced cost. 

How Does 3D Printing Work?

3D printing uses computer-aided design (CAD) to create three-dimensional objects through layering. 3D printing converts a 3D model into tiny little pieces and prints it slice by slice, piece by piece, and layer by layer until the final design is complete.

What 3D Printing Software Is Most Used?

Autodesk AutoCAD is the most commonly used 3D printing software because of its versatility, regular feature updates, and plugin capabilities. Having been in existence since 2011, it is one of the oldest agile project management software solutions.

Is There Free 3D Printing Software?

Yes, there are several free 3D printing programs. They offer competitive functions, and some will easily outperform other paid programs.

What Software Is Best For 3D Printing Design?

There is no single best software for 3D printing design. Each software is designed with different goals in mind. Some programs are designed to meet the needs of the manufacturing industry, while others are for research and educational purposes.

What Is The Easiest 3D Printing Software To Learn?

SketchUp is the easiest to learn. It has a simple interface and comes with a robust instructional guide. It has a recommendation feature that guides a beginner on how to use the software.

Which Is The Hardest 3D Printing Software To Learn?

Autodesk Fusion 360 may be the most challenging 3D printing software to learn. It is an advanced software specifically made for professionals and manufacturers.

Conclusion

3D printing software is a necessary tool for anyone looking to get into the 3D printing field. It enables you to create high-quality objects, parts, and prototypes at a reduced cost and in a shorter time frame. 

The market has different options, each with its features and capabilities. The best 3D printing software for you will depend on your experience level, the type of project you want to undertake, the type of 3D printer available to you, and your budget. 

If you are a beginner, SketchUp is the easiest to learn. Autodesk Fusion 360 may be the best for you if you need an advanced program. Regardless of your choice, all the programs mentioned in this article will help you produce high-quality designs, parts, and prototypes.

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