3D Design Tools
Over the years we’ve seen that different applications call for different design tools. That’s why we’ve started listing some of the most popular software tools used by our community of makers, designers and inventors.
Meshmixer is the ultimate tool for 3D mashups and remixes. Mash, mix, sculpt, stamp or paint your own 3D designs, or start from any existing 3D file.
Meshmixer is part of Autodesk’s family of products in helping students, makers, and individuals from all walks of life to design and make the things they imagine.
Microsoft 3D Builder is a free Windows app that lets you view, capture, personalize, repair, and print 3D models. Users either start from scratch by combining simple shapes or download any kind of given 3D file from an online database. They can then edit these models using the 3D modeling space. 3D Builder even includes a feature to turn webcam photos into 3D and easy-to-use personalization tools.
Tinkercad is an easy-to-use, browser-based 3D design tool for all. From kids to designers to hobbyists, with Tinkercad you can create 3D printable items: toys to play with, decorations to light up your home, or jewelry to express yourself. Users are guided through the 3D design process through ‘Lessons’, which teach the basics before moving on to more complex modeling techniques.
Blender is a free and open-source 3D animation suite. It’s community driven and you can find a ton of resources about its full-fledged features.
FreeCADis a free open-source 3D design tool that is most suitable for geometric designs, such as precise technical parts, replacement parts, gadgets, cases, scale models, etc. It’s less suitable for creating organic objects like figurines, animals, or plants
A free digital sculpting tool, created by Pixologic, the makers of ZBrush. Sculptris is a fun and engaging way to set your first steps in the world of digital sculpting.
OpenSCAD is a free CAD software for creating solid 3D models. Unlike most free 3D modeling software, it doesn’t focus on the artistic aspects of 3D modeling but instead on the CAD aspects. OpenSCAD works like a 3D-compiler that reads in a script file that describes the object and renders the 3D model from the script file. This way of working gives you full control over the modeling process. It also enables you to easily change any step in the process or make designs that are defined by configurable parameters. It might be the perfect application for you if you are planning to create 3D models of machine parts.
Onshape is the first and only full-cloud 3D CAD system that lets everyone on a design team simultaneously work together using a web browser, phone or tablet.
SketchUp is a drawing-based 3D modeling tool that is easy to learn and fun to use. SketchUp is 3D for everyone. All kinds of people use SketchUp…and they’re making all kinds of things. From architects, product designers, builders, to makers and to engineers. SketchUp started with the idea that anyone in the world can learn how to use this tool and do useful stuff with.
A free version, SketchUp Make, and a paid version with additional functionality, SketchUp Pro, are available.
3D Slash is Inspired by construction games like Minecraft, 3D Slash is 3D modeling software for non-designers of all ages. You’ll be creating your own 3D file within minutes.
Photoshop CC Bring your 3D designs into the real world using the rich set of 3D image creation, editing, and printing tools in Photoshop CC.
Rhinoceros is known as one of the world’s most versatile freeform 3D modeling tool. It uses NURBS instead of polygons and is the weapon of choice for many industrialdesigners, architects, etc.
ZBrush Also used by major film and games studios, ZBrush is a digital sculpting tool that combines 3D/2.5D modeling, texturing and painting. It’s more akin to sculpting than any other modeling package out there.