3D printing offers amazing possibilities for producing a wide range of products, designs and prototypes for a wide range of purposes. While many professionals and businesses utilize 3D printing in various ways to better serve their clients, hobbyists make up a large portion of the overall industry as well. Each day, many beginners that are brand new to 3D printing order their first printer, load their first filament or design their very first model.
Part of what makes 3D printing so interesting is the vast array of different products available and the ever-expanding list of new and exciting advancements in 3D printing technology that seem to happen almost daily. There is a wide range of available software for professional 3D printers and beginners alike. Each piece of software comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, and some are better for use by more experienced users as opposed to those just starting out.
However, regardless of your experience level and exact 3D printing needs, there are many great choices when it comes to 3D printing software that will offer you a full range of capabilities and quality designs you can be proud of. Once you have a bit more experience with 3D printing and learn a few of the finer points it is a little easier to select software that will be a good fit your needs.
When you are a beginner it can be much more difficult as you do not yet have the hands-on experience that can help you know what details or features will be the most important for your purposes. Therefore, we thought it might be helpful to offer a peek at some of the most useful 3D printing software for beginners that will help you get started easily and quickly.
So without further delay, here they are.
Considerations Before You Buy or Try
Before you purchase or download free 3D printing software, there are a few important considerations to think about. If you are a beginner you may not know the exact answer to all of them but they can give you a little better idea of which piece of software might be a better fit for what you need.
3D printing software can sometimes be a bit more geared towards a particular purpose, such as artistic or engineering. While much of the available software is capable of many different types of 3D printing activities it is best to avoid those that are designed for very specific uses until you have more experience.
Cost is always a consideration when you buy any type of product. However, with 3D printing software is best to avoid spending a large sum of money of software until you know exactly how you will be using your printer. Additionally, if you are a hobbyist and not utilizing 3D printing for commercial purposes then there are many different types of software available at no cost.
Ease of Use and Support
It can make your first 3D printing experiences much easier if you choose software that is intended for beginners and one that offers support such as tutorials on the web or a website with instructions.
Best 3D Printing Software for Beginners
#1 123D Design
123D Design software is a great place to start if you are brand new to 3D printing for several reasons. It is intended for beginners so the software is easy to navigate and offers a simple layout that is easy for first-time users to understand and use. Perhaps equally important, it is offered as part of an eight app package designed by Autodesk that is available at no cost.
Each app offers different capabilities and they work together seamlessly when it comes to transferring files and manipulating 3D designs. As a beginner, having eight 3D modeling apps that are compatible out of the box can make your life much easier and help you avoid some of the potential headaches involved with learning to 3D print effectively. The software is compatible with PC, Mac or iPad and available for download on the Autodesk website.
3DTin is another free option for quality software but it offers something that most other 3D modeling software does not, there is no software to download. This modeling software is 100% browser-based so you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues, taking up valuable space on your hard drive or a complicated process to get started.
With 3DTin you can begin working on your very first design within just a few minutes as all that is required is creating a user account. While most of us have enough usernames and passwords to remember already, signing up for 3DTin is well worth it, as a user account automatically gives you access to a very large selection of existing 3D models.
The software is geared towards beginners who are learning to 3D print for the first time so it is intentionally simple to learn but still offers a high-degree of flexibility and design customization. If you are looking for the simplest software available and not particularly tech savvy then 3DTin is an excellent choice.
#3 GLC Player
GLC Player is free 3D printing software that allows you to view and navigate models in multiple file formats such as OBJ, OFF, COFF, 3DXML and STL. It is compatible with Linux, Mac or Windows operating systems and is a good tool for those who are new to 3D printing as well as mid-level users.
It offers a range of capabilities such as storing your different albums of models, multi-capture functionality, exporting in HTML and a wide range of navigation choices. The software is easy to use and simple to learn, making it well worth considering if you are just beginning to learn about 3D printing.
OpenSCAD offers a bit of a different focus compared to other free 3D printing software choices and centers its attention on CAD instead of the artistic features of models. The software is available free of charge and is compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux systems. If you are familiar with CAD and interested in designing solid 3D products then this software is a good option to begin your 3D printing career with.
Tinkercad keeps things simple and easy for newcomers to 3D printing by providing only three simple tools that can create a wide variety of 3D printing models. The program utilizes the STL file format which is by far the most universal format used in the 3D printing universe and it limits the learning curve to a bare minimum. While the software may sound and look a bit basic, you can create a wide array of detailed 3D designs that are ready for you to print in just a matter of minutes.
There are many options when it comes to 3D printing software that is good for beginners and new users. It is usually best to try a few of the free options before spending a significant amount of money on a piece of software you aren’t 100% sure will fit your needs. The possibilities of what you can do with 3D printing are only limited by your imagination and your willingness to learn. Therefore, new users should not limit themselves to only a few aspects or one piece of software.
By trying several of the options listed above it will give you a much better idea of what type of software and ultimately what type of 3D printer will help you best fulfill your 3D printing objectives be it for professional purposes or simply as a hobby.