Free 3D Printing Software

Programmi gratis grafica 3D

Free 3D Printing Software: which is the best?

If you are interested in 3D printing, you will soon realise that different types of programs are essential to producing graphics.

For those new to this technology, it is vital to know what software is useful for 3D graphics and to know how to search for it. In this article, we will look at the best free programs for 3D printing.

For those who are still unfamiliar with this world, the software that plays a primary role in the use of this modern tool is the one that allows you to start printing the objects you want to make. In jargon, these programs are known as slicers. These software programs stand between the 3D model and the printer, enabling the latter to work out how to process all the work.

As will have happened to many newbies, the first jobs are done using ready-made models found on the Net. What we are going to list below, therefore, are free programs that can be used by both those who need software for filament 3D printers and those who, on the other hand, wish to obtain suggestions regarding programs for resin printers. In any case, these are software which are currently considered to be the most reliable and performing among those available free of charge.

The role and importance of 3D printing software

It must be clear what a 3D model is, starting with the basics and all the basics for beginners. When we speak of 3D, we refer to the description of an object placed within a Cartesian coordinate system (X, Y, Z).

When we display a three-dimensional model on a PC screen, it is processed mathematically by specific software, allowing us to make and display changes to the model.

The programs needed to control the whole process are software for slicing, software for modelling, software for making repairs to the mesh, and, finally, software for managing printing.

Specifically, if you are simply interested in 3D printing, you must have slicing software. Although the others are also significant, they are not essential to getting the most out of your 3D printer.

This article will focus on the free 3D software available online. There are differences between a programme offered for free and a paid one. Undoubtedly, many of the latter are more accurate, and for this very reason, they are aimed at specific targets.

On the other hand, free programmes are intended for a less experienced audience, who need fewer commands and less precision. On the other hand, Paid programs are aimed at professionals and those who need more control over their work with the 3D printer.

Fortunately, plenty of open-source (free) alternatives nowadays are very detailed and have entirely different functionalities.

These programs are indispensable for creating prototypes, printing metal 3D models, 3D models of jewellery, and 3D models of architecture or design.

Ultimaker Cura

The first free 3D printing programme we recommend is Ultimaker Cura. It is one of the most popular solutions for people who want to print their operations and have little experience in this field.

This software is trendy in this field because of its ease of use and compatibility with many 3D printers. These features have prompted several printer manufacturers to include this software in their sales packages.

Ultimaker Cura can be downloaded for Windows, MacOS, and Linux operating systems and is, as mentioned, completely free of charge. To download it, go to the official website and select the download button next to the version for the operating system on which you want to use the programme.

After downloading, you can start the installation process and wait for it to conclude. When finished, the programme will start automatically.

Right from the start, it will become clear how easy this software is to use. Usually, all programs intended for novice users have the same operation. After testing it for a specific person, you will understand how best to use Ultimaker Cura with your 3D printer.

PrusaSlicer

If you are a fan of 3D printing and related software, you will undoubtedly try PrusaSlicer. Prusa Research, a well-known company in this field, developed this program. Prusa Research also has a large selection of high-end 3D printers among its products. Its founder, moreover, is one of the most prominent figures within the 3D printing community.

PrusaSlicer is, therefore, considered a software used by those familiar with this sector and is one of the most popular alternatives to Ultimaker Cura, which we mentioned earlier among the free software.

Although Ultimaker Cura is compatible with many 3D printers on the market, PrusaSlicer is not limited to Prusa printers. Profiles for printers from other manufacturers can be accessed online.

Go to the official Prusa website to download the software free of charge, and choose your preferred operating system version. The process of downloading and installing the programme is similar, if not identical, to that of other software.

The configuration phase of PrusaSlicer is equally simple. In fact, after starting the programme, the configuration page will be displayed in Italian. Then, from PrusaSlicer’s main screen, you can manage the entire printing phase of your projects in detail.

IdeaMaker

Those who want a further alternative to the software presented so far, i.e. Ultimaker Cura and PrusaSlicer, can turn to IdeaMaker, another well-known program among 3D printing enthusiasts created by Raise3D.

This software is considered slightly more advanced than the previous two programs. It has become trendy and has attracted more interest precisely because of the many functionalities it offers while remaining free of charge. Moreover, here, too, there is broad compatibility with the leading brands of 3D printers, in addition to those proposed by the company Raise3D (which we would remind you is the owner of IdeaMaker).

Despite its advanced features, IdeaMaker remains a software suitable for those who are not considered experts in 3D printing. Also making it easy to use is the user interface, which the programmers made very intuitive.

Among IdeaMaker’s most advanced features are the possibility of managing surfaces and textures and the automatic creation of supports. This software also gives access to a vast library of creations entered by the community.

The software also provides information and statistics concerning the printing and materials used. The function that allows you to repair damaged models is also vehandyIdeaMaker. Therefore, it is an excellent solution for those who want free software without giving up the important and advanced functions typical of 3D printing. Also, as in the previous two, it is possible to download the programme by connecting to the manufacturer’s official website and the valuable documentation.

Further free 3D printing software alternatives

In addition to the examples of free software just mentioned, there are also other online alternatives for 3D printing.

One of these is Slic3r, one of the most popular programs for the final printing phase. An English-language user guide explains the various steps to get the most out of the programme.

Another software of note is MatterControl, which many users praise for its particularly modern graphics interface. Although free, this software is compatible with many 3D printer models.

However, for those looking for an all-in-one solution, the ideal program is IceSL, which allows you to create 3D models and print them. Thus, it is one of the most versatile solutions offered for free on the Net. The only limitation is the difficulty of use for those who are not yet very familiar with this type of software.

Repetier-Host is a solution halfway between beginners and those who have already gained experience in this field. Those unfamiliar with its functionality can consult the practical English guide on the official website. In this case, the possibility of using manual commands is much appreciated.

Finally, this free 3D printing software list also includes PrintRun, a particularly complex program that allows you to get the most out of your 3D printer. It is highly recommended for experienced users who can handle everything related to this printing sector to the best of their ability.

Free CAD software: what is it for?

We have analysed the primary resources for slicing software.

Now, we will discuss free CAD programs, a very effective solution for those just starting out in 3D printing.

This type of software is used to bring any shape to life, whether starting from scratch or using a downloaded model. Many free programs that can be downloaded online allow you to make changes to a 3D model, visualise it and, in some cases, even simulate it before printing.

As in the case of slicing programs, free CAD software has its differences and is more suitable for newcomers or experts in 3D printing. In the following, we will present a series of free programs to help you choose the most appropriate solution for your needs and experience level.

We have not included free software that can be downloaded for free but also has paid versions. These programs offer most of their functions free of charge, whereas if you want to explore the software’s functions more, you must upgrade to the premium version.

BlocksCAD

The first software on this list of free CAD software is BlocksCAD, designed for users with no experience in this field using this type of program for the first time.

Therefore, for those in the initial phase, this is the most suitable software among those proposed free of charge. Its operation is intuitive and simulates LEGO construction, as bricks of different shapes must be added to make the final part. The last task is the simple export in STL format, which allows 3D printing. Of course, after learning all the features of this simple programme, it will be possible to move on to more complex and advanced software than BlocksCAD.

LeoCAD

This software is perfect for LEGO lovers. In fact, as in the case of BlocksCAD, LeoCAD is also considered a suitable programme for those with little experience in this field who wish to take their first steps into the world of 3D modelling.

Again, this is a design model that simulates construction with LEGO bricks. This approach is also very suitable for educational purposes, and LeoCAD is software suitable even for the youngest children. Another essential of LeoCAD is the possibility of creating and modelling large models that require several parts. Being an open-source project, sharing one’s designs with the community is possible.

3D Builder, the free CAD offering from Microsoft

The 3D Builder software is a 3D modelling program offered free of charge by Microsoft. It runs exclusively on PCs running a Windows operating system.

It contains various 3D models that users can download free of charge using the program’s interface. For those with more creativity and experience, creating a 3D model from scratch is possible. This software generally has a fairly intuitive interface and works by superimposing or intersecting geometric shapes.

Many users have appreciated Microsoft’s proposal, one of the preferred choices for those using a Windows operating system.

TinkerCAD

TinkerCAD is a software developed by Autodesk and is suitable for all users, from beginners to experts. It is very easy to use, and because of this, it is one of the preferred software for teachers, designers, and novice users.

This Autodesk software is based on solid construction geometry when making models. These can be easily saved in OBJ, SVG, and STL formats.

FreeCAD

This free software is perfect for those who want to design objects of all sizes. FreeCAD is a program suitable for all types of users, from experienced designers to those entering the world of 3D modelling and 3D printing for the first time.

Again, you can export your file in various formats, such as STL, SVG, DEX, OBJ, etc. FreeCAD is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.

Its leading destination is mechanical design, often exploited in other fields, such as architecture and product design.

OpenSCAD

OpenSCAD is perhaps one of the most technical proposals in this list of free software. It is compatible with Mac operating systems and is based on their scripts.

This software allows users to create 3D objects for printing and 2D designs. OpenSCAD offers CSG, OFF, STL, AMF, and DXF export formats. This software is well-known in the 3D printing sector because it allows the creation of designs for machine parts.

MeshMixer

The last free software in this CAD list is MeshMixer, which, like TinkerCAD, is a product of Autodesk. This program can be used on both Windows and MacOS computers.

Its primary function is to design 3D models and their retouching. Among its main features are editing tools that allow models to be excavated. Furthermore, MeshMixer stands out from other software due to its accessibility. You do not need to be a CAD expert to use it and create models rich in detail. This is also thanks to the models in the archive.

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