The 10 Best 3D Printer Design Software In 2021

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3D printing software is becoming all the rage in product design. The capabilities of the machinery are evolving to extraordinary levels. They are now in regular use for the manufacturing, medicine, architecture, and design industries – full-sized houses are even being printed nowadays!

With the growing intricacies of 3D printing software comes the need for detailed models – things that can’t be addressed by standard 3D modeling applications. Specific 3D printing software is required to work in parallel with the printing machinery and ensure the product is made as reflected on the platform.

Plenty of developers have sought the solutions through their own tailored printing software – and with all the 3D printing software businesses cropping up, there’s certainly enough demand for them all.

Top 10 Best 3D Printer Design Software

The capabilities and potential of 3D-printing are phenomenal. The practice is now a regular part of the industry – where it continues to evolve as the demand for vast ranges of products continues. The 3D software behind the printers facilitates the process of concept to reality – and it’s worth researching the best of the bunch for any budding 3D printing software enthusiast.

I’ve detailed what I believe are the best 3D printing software currently on the market.

  1. Autodesk Fusion 360
  2. MakePrintable
  3. IdeaMaker
  4. OctoPrint
  5. TinkerCAD
  6. UltimakerCura
  7. MeshLab
  8. FreeCAD
  9. 3D Printer OS
  10. Autodesk AutoCAD

You may have heard of the Autodesk brand before – most likely as they have become the industry standard in 3D modeling software. Naturally, with all their revered stature – they have developed excellent 3D software in the 3D printing software field. Autodesk Fusion 360, in my opinion, is the best 3D printing software out there.

The development revolves around what Autodesk does best, cater to professionals. It presents features and functions that tailor to the needs of a 3D designer and engineer. The level of control and part detail over designs ensures that resulting products are of the highest quality when it comes to print. Even more sugar on the coat, it seamlessly integrates with other Autodesk platforms.

Features:

  • Detailed interface with nearly limitless options to turn concepts into printed reality
  • Options to set constraints with material and print limitations
  • Real-time capability to work with teams in multiple locations

Assessment:

When it comes to 3D modeling software – Autodesk is really the creme de la creme of the industry. Nothing falls short of expectation with Fusion 360 – it really is one of the best 3D printing software on the market. If you are just beginning the trade, two things might turn you off – it’s very detailed, which might be overwhelming. The pricing plan costs up to $60 a month as well.

The name wastes no time in suggesting what this product does – it makes your designs printable! The platform does not feature any 3D tools to shape models – but still serves a significant purpose. The application repairs and optimizes 3D models, making sure no anomalies are coming around to product print.

MakePrintible boasts a 3-step approach where the user uploads a model, and the 3D modeling software will optimize it in record time. It will then send it to their 3D printer with subsequent delivery to your doorstep. The speed at which every step is accomplished makes this application a nifty tool in refining workflow. If printing 3D products are your trade, this 3D printing software should seriously be considered.

Features:

  • Repair and optimize your 3D model with upload and a few clicks
  • Excellent analysis tools that detail print viability
  • Models can be analyzed, optimized, and printed very quickly

Assessment:

I’ll identify the two main issues first – it doesn’t have any decent creation tools – and it’s expensive, going up to $99.99 for heavy use. Outside of those factors, MakePrintable is absolutely magnificent. This 3D printing software works as an accomplice to ensure you are printing superior quality products – taking impurities out by identifying on upload and patching them up.

I love 3D modeling software that has broad definitions in its names. This is because usually, it speaks volumes of their versatility. IdeaMaker is a 3D printing software that encourages ideas to come to life with tools that support all skill levels. Apart from the creation suite, there are optimization features that make sure your models are at their best.

Some of the most competitive traits of IdeaMaker include automatic generation of support structures for solid modeling to ensure you know what you’re doing. Others feature access to a wealth of templates and freeform shaping tools for those a bit more adept at printing products. Not to mention, the 3D design software and printer can be remotely managed.

Features:

  • A 3D printing software that’s compatible with FFF printers
  • Brilliant set of tools spanning model creation, support, and optimization
  • Features that account for 3D printable file materials in the models

Assessment:

If you are looking to make your 3D model happen – IdeaMaker is here to give you a hand. This platform is probably the most adaptable to different levels of skills in the 3D printing game. The 3D modeling software is even a free download, but the features are inclined to push users towards purchasing one of the developer’s 3D printers.

With all the costs involved in purchasing, maintaining, and supplying 3D printers – it’s hard to believe that 3D design software is free. 3D printing is becoming big business, though. Friendly developers worldwide always seem to generate open-source 3D software in parallel to popular concepts. OctoPrint is a result of that, and it’s surprisingly good.

Like most open-source 3D printing software, it’s continually updated to the demands of professional 3D printers. It takes out the 3D modeling aspects of other platforms to focus on a seamless 3D printing experience. OctoPrint is an interface that manages and controls detailed elements of your printer dedicated to bolstering outcomes and increasing productivity.

Features:

  • Free and open-source – use OctoPrint’s3D Printer management interface as much as you want
  • Compatible with most 3D printers with remote control and monitoring
  • Plugins can be attached to increase the number of features

Assessment:

Octoprint falls into the open-source stereotype of being a bit clunky at times. People have complained about the stop/start/pause functions not working very well – and maybe a bit slow at times. You can’t complain too much considering it’s free 3D modeling software. 3D printing enthusiasts on a budget will find a lot to love in this product. The clean interface and product adaptability are refreshing.

TinkerCAD is a 3D printsoftware dedicated to making an industry full of complexities – simple. The toolset facilitates the design, shaping, and generation of 3D models with an intuitive interface. It accommodates users better than some of the more threatening-looking platforms available. TinkerCAD is a beginner’s dream in the 3D modeling and 3D printing sphere.

The easy-to-use UI supports a surprising amount of functionality with a few simple clicks from start to finish. The learning curve is refreshing and operates as a guide to place you into a lucrative 3D printing career. Existing 2D and 3D models are easily imported as well – including STL files to allow you to print from the get-go.

Features:

  • An easy-to-use set of tools to design and deliver on your 3D model
  • Laser-cutting capabilities not featured by most platforms
  • Tutorials to help learn the intricacies revolving around 3D printing

Assessment:

TinkerCAD is my ideal 3D modeling software – mainly because of how easy it is to use from a beginner’s perspective. The friendly platform does sacrifice a bit of integrity in favor of that concept, though. It can be a bit buggy when being a bit more experimental or trying to accomplish advanced tasks. For a free 3D modeling software made by a renowned brand, however – that can be overlooked.

The only thing I love more than open-source 3D printsoftware is when there is more than one to choose from. UltimakerCura is another brilliant option in the free 3D printing software spectrum. It’s another platform that doesn’t specialize in model building, considering there’s plenty of applications to do that. It does, though, manage your 3D printer near flawlessly.

UltimakerCura adapts with nearly every 3D printer you can imagine, making this an ideal choice for beginners just learning the tools of the trade. One interface manages all your 3D printing jobs, with tools to scale and adjust files in many popular formats. Existing 3D CAD software can be integrated into UltimakerCura, as well.

Features:

  • Simple interface that makes 3D printing highly accessible for beginners
  • The 3D printing software serves as one of the better management tools for detailed printing processes
  • High level of compatibility with any 3D file format and printer

Assessment:

UltimakerCura extends a hand to newbies and offers encouragement in pursuing careers in 3D object printing. The free platform is one of the best places to start, but you will eventually run into the snag that it’s slow. When it comes to the more advanced demands, you’ll want to seek other options – but honing those skills doesn’t come any sweeter than this 3D modeling software.

More open-source free 3D modeling software, you say? Feels like industry enthusiasts are really trying to spread the good word of 3D printer slicer software. MeshLab is a free offering that doesn’t gear towards printer management – but more towards model development. The platform focuses on editing and processing 3D meshes.

The suite of functionality is sublime. Users can harness all the sculpting, editing, rendering, and conversion capability to make some superior products for the printer. The 3D slicer softwareand preparation feature also assists in harboring an efficient workflow – from conception all the way to the final print.

Features:

  • The toolset available allows one of the purest refinements of your 3D printable models
  • 3D slicing software features gauged to get models ready for the printer
  • 3D color mapping and texturing don’t go a miss!

Assessment:

MeshLab is open-source free 3D printing software that really tries to be the one-stop-shop for 3D printing needs. The options available stretch far and wide, allowing deliverance on any product idea you have for the printer. Naturally, there are a couple of cons with free software. Mesh Lab presents a confusing interface where different options essentially do the same tasks and may hinder workflow.

I might as well start by saying that FreeCAD is not magnificent. However, the features and functionality of the 3D modeling software make it a great tool to train with. The interface is basic and advanced features such as grouping and model optimization are absent. But what you will find is quite possibly the friendliest face amongst all 3D modelsoftware.

The application is not only cost-free in the price – it offers the freedom to craft with a parametric 3D modeler. You’ll be able to create lifelike designs ready for the printer, with open-source capabilities to add or remove features as you choose. Whatever the option, the environment you’ll work in will consistently feel comfortable.

Features:

  • Foundational options to create 3D models from 2D bases
  • Multi-platform support including Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux
  • Architecture, rendering, sketching, and simulation support for 3D parametric modeling

Assessment:

For all the tools and features FreeCAD provides – you need to remember that all are quite basic in stature. They’ll do what you need up to a point, but if you’re planning on printing a 3D warehouse – this won’t even scratch the surface. FreeCAD is highly recommended for those starting out, though.

Accessibility is the core value that 3D Printer OS has been developed around. It strives to offer the most effective 3D printing management system amongst the competition – not just an application – but an entire operating system for the printers. The colorful interface and easy navigation make this quite the standout management tool.

3D Printer OS brings advantages such as multiple prints and reporting. The assistance is essential to manage the costs and efficiency of the products. It features an STL editor for rapid prototyping and G-code and toolpath viewing abilities to make this viable business application – as well as a personal one. While an effective STL viewer tool to work with 3D printers, it’s not a thing you’d want to conceptualize models with.

Features:

  • Easily integrated into existing 3D CAD software
  • Supports over 150 types of desktop printers and 1200 industrial 3D printers
  • A very workable management interface to manage multiple and complex 3D printing tasks

Assessment:

3D Printer OS is lauded as being an essential tool if you are running a 3D printing business – being an asset in refining workflow. There are limitations to the platform, though. Are you requiring settings to go above and beyond industry-standard functionality? You aren’t going to have much luck getting what you want out of it.

At the end of our list of best 3D printer design software, I’ll circle back to the industry favorite. Autodesk AutoCAD is an immensely professional solution to all your 3D printing software needs. You’ll be able to create an incredibly detailed CAD model while simultaneously optimizing them for the printer, with every meticulous option you could think of being available for use.

If the hefty price tag of $1690 a year doesn’t bother you – there is no more professional application than Autodesk AutoCAD. The drafting, annotating, and design of both 2D and 3D CAD models are a breeze, quickly translating to a printable product. There are also a lot of automation options that will get tasks down in lightning timeframes.

Features:

  • An industry-standard toolset that has just about every CAD software tool you could hope for
  • Powerful CAD software automation options to accomplish tasks quickly
  • Seamless functionality with other Autodesk products

Assessment:

If you are a professional 3D modeler with the need to craft the most marketable assets for print – you’ll need AutoCAD. No ifs, and, or buts about it. It is an expensive piece of gear but will pay for itself through the creations that can be accomplished. The vast toolsets and endless CAD software functionality make sure of that.

Conclusion

The demand for 3D printing software has grown exponentially. Naturally, the software has taken steps into niche sectors to fit particular interests. The 3D modeling tool you’ll likely need will pend on a couple of variables – including skill level, customization, model capabilities, management capabilities, optimized output, and adaptability. In layman’s terms – think about what you want your 3D printer software to do, and compare the features against your expected outcomes.

There are plenty of options to suit any budget, experience, and printing expectations – much 3D modeling program tailor-made for business applications. 3D printing is a lucrative industry to get involved in these days – and if you are adept at additive manufacturing, 3D designing, or 3D modeling – it’s something you might want to consider!

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