2021 Best Free 3D Printing Software For Beginner (Mac & Windows)
Looking for 3D printing software ?
There are many platforms that are completely free to use. Some are open-source cross-platform tools, while others are cloud-based solutions.
This article will show you the top 3D printing software for the beginner (Mac & Windows), and all the software is FREE.
In a nutshell, Blender is one of the most powerful 3D printing software tools you can use.
It has a very helpful community and is the subject of a huge number of tutorials online. That and it’s open-source, so people are often writing extensions for it to make it even better and more capable.
- Works with STL and OBJ file formats
- Analyze your mesh to identify some errors that could cause your printing to fail
PrusaSlicer (formerly known as Slic3r Prusa Edition or Slic3r PE) is a slicer software based on the open-source project Slic3r.
It can be used to slice models for both FDM and resin printers, and has various modes that allow you to edit settings based on your skill level, with Expert opening up a huge list of things to customize.
Fear not though, even simple profiles can perform well in PrusaSlicer.
- Works with 3MF,STL,OBJ and AMF
- Ability to use modifier meshes, adjust layer heights, change infill patterns or densities, and set specific numbers of perimeters
- Variable layer heights can reduce print times without sacrificing print quality.
- Inserting a pause or custom G-code at a certain height
- ColorPrint is a feature that originally provided a way to pause prints in order to manually swap filaments at a programmed layer height and show previews in the editor.
Ultimaker Cura is free software that provides users with seamless integration between its platform and a 3D printer.
It provides a recommended mode to users who are new to 3D printing software, which makes it a great tool for beginners.
On the flip side, if you’re a user who wants complete customization over the final product, Ultimaker Cura also offers a custom mode.
- Works with STL, OBJ, X3D, and 3MF file formats
- Adjustment tools to scale your model
- Print on multiple networks and monitor all jobs from one interface
AstroPrint is a tool for managing 3D printers and is fully compatible with Mac.
It is a cloud-based solution that allows users to monitor and manage your 3D printers, as well as your slicer settings, printer profiles, and material profiles.
With a free AstroPrint Cloud account, you can store virtually all of the information needed to achieve a successful print. Better yet, these settings can be accessed via your browser or the AstroPrint mobile app.
- Supports remote printing, you can print wirelessly or with a USB cable.
- It allows you to scale, rotate, arrange, push up or pull down, and make multiple copies of the designs through your AstroPrint account.
- Provides detailed analytics for analyzing the printing process in a better way.
- Allows you to view the G-Code files’ print paths and to analyze your design layer by layer.
- You can analyze the printing speed which is indicated by different colors.
- Reflects the changes visually on the display while adjusting its settings.
- AstroPrint can find or identify your 3D printer in a few seconds no matter whether your printer is remote or on a local network.
- Provides a push notification when the print is finished or stopped.
3DPrinterOS is an operating system built for 3D print management.
A cloud-based solution to 3D printer management, 3DPrinterOS is a comprehensive suite that encompasses print job queuing and delegation, printer control, and an app-based plug-in system that allows for STL analysis and repair, plus in-cloud slicing.
- STL editor
- Upload and print G-codes
- Remote monitoring
- G-code and toolpath viewing
TinkerCAD is a free browser-based 3D design and modeling tool.
With its simple and intuitive interface, TinkerCAD is a great software for beginners. Users can design simple or complex models using shapes and shape grouping.
TinkerCAD supports STL files, which allows users to 3D print their design once it is finished.
- Import 2D and 3D models
- Laser cutting
- Click to 3D print
- Cloud storage
Raise3D’s unique slicer software, ideaMaker is a seamless, free 3D printing tool that helps develop G-Code and can support file-formats including STL, 3MF, OLTP, and OBJ.
Mac users can also join in on the fun.
It has a user-friendly interface for beginners and highly customization features for professionals.
- You can create your own 3D prints with an easy process.
- This tool facilitates you with a remote monitoring and management tool to provide a better printing experience.
- Includes an auto-layout feature for printing multiple files at a time.
- ideaMaker is compatible and works flawlessly with FDM 3D printers.
- It can connect with third party open-source 3D printers and allow you to upload G-Code to OctoPrint.
- Can adjust the layer height automatically by analyzing the prints.
- This tool can provide an interface in multiple languages including Italian, English, German, and many more.
Netfabb provides users with advanced STL analysis and all the tools to model, import and repair a 3D design.
With its additive manufacturing simulation, users can predict how metal additive manufactured parts will deform to help reduce build failures.
- Model import, repair and editing
- Design optimization
- Additive manufacturing simulation
The great-grandaddy of 3D printing software and the favored choice within the RepRap maker community, Repetier is open source and highly capable software for 3D printer control and slicing.
Repetier-Host is a free all-in-one 3D printing software solution that works with almost all popular FDM 3D printers, with over 500,000 installations.
It has multi-slicer support, multi-extruder support, easy multi-printing, full control over your printer, and access from anywhere via browser.
- You can upload multiple print models and can scale, rotate, and make their copies on the virtual bed.
- Allows you to slice models with different slicers and optimal settings.
- Easily watch your 3D printers via webcam and even create cool time lapses to share
- Very small memory requirement so you can print files of any size
- Has a G-Code editor and manual controls to give instructions to your 3D printer remotely
- Can handle the processing of 16 extruders at the same time even if they all have different filament colors.
Meshmixer includes a variety of tools to optimize 3D CAD designs for 3D printing.
While there are simple tools for novice users, some features are meant for experienced designers.
An example is the platform’s multi-material design feature, which lets users create objects with multiple materials.
- Drag-and-drop mesh mixing
- Robust convert-to-solid for 3D printing
- Automatic print bed orientation optimization, layout, and packing
MeshLab is an advanced STL editing software that is open-source, providing tools that enable the processing and editing of 3D triangular meshes.
This free program allows users to edit, clean, repair, inspect, render, and convert meshes, and even merge models into a solid and patch up holes in your 3D model.
- 3D reconstruction
- 3D color mapping and texturing
- 3D printing, offsetting, hollowing, and closing
Autodesk Fusion 360
Fusion 360 is a very advanced piece of software that allows Mac users to really explore their 3D modeling capabilities, without limitations to the creative process.
Although it has a steep learning curve, once you get the hang of it, you can create some amazing models, even functional models that serve a purpose.
Several professionals make use of Fusion 360 from Mechanical Engineers to Industrial Designers, all the way down to Machinists. There is a free version for personal use, which still allows you to do plenty.
It’s especially good for collaborative team building, where you can share designs and manage them securely from anywhere.
Included in Fusion 360 are major printing tools such as task management and project management.
- Provides users with a unified environment that allows you to create high-quality objects.
- Standard design and 3D modeling tools
- Supports many file types
- This design software makes it easy for you to program your manufacturing process effectively.
- An advanced set of modeling tools that provide high-quality prints by using many analysis methods.
- Secure data management if working in teams on projects
- Single cloud user storage
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