It’s generally accepted that the majority of graphics software is expensive and that this is true for 3D modeling and printing software as well, whereas software available free of charge is useless for professionals. Fortunately, that’s not really the case. There’s a number of free tools which can be used by professionals. Here are four we think are the most interesting.
Fusion 360: cloud-based CAD software
The Autodesk software catalog is broad and Fusion 360 is a complete and free cloud-based program for non-commercial use. This software lets many users cooperate and share files in the cloud. It’s a complete CAD program with tools for creating and editing models. Fusion 360 also lets its user prepare models for production, that is e.g. for 3D printing.
The software supports a few dozen of the most popular formats. You can test the application for free in the cloud for the first 30 days; after that you need to get a free account, given for three years to students and teachers and for one year to amateurs and start-up companies as long as the business earns less than 100 thousand dollars annually. The upside of the software is that data is stored in the cloud and that it can work on all the widespread platforms, including previewing projects on mobile devices.
Blender: old software that’s been taught a lot of tricks
This free, open-licensed software was created in 1995. It’s available on Windows, MacOS, and Linux, as well as Solaris, Amiga OS 4, and MorphOS. It can be used not just for modeling, but also for making 3D animations as if straight out of a Pixar movie as well as special effects or vide0 games. Besides its native format, .blend, Blender also supports other formats both through importing and exporting. It has a unique, highly customizable interface.
Moreover, it offers the user a wide range of possibilities as far as modeling and support for additional scripts are concerned; this lets the user add new tools for editing. It’s a solution employed by professionals in many fields, useful for creating complex models for 3D printing.
Meshmixer: join objects and prepare them for printing
Even though Zortrax printers come with dedicated software used to prepare projects for printing, free programs which can perform additional roles will always come in handy. Meshmixer lets the user create simple 3D objects and add finishing touches, its aim is to prepare finished models for printing. You can open .OBJ format files from your hard drive or take advantage of a cloud-based library.
The application lets you join different objects, change them, cut them, make reflections and enhancements. Moreover, Meshmixer gives you a preview of what the object will look like when made of a given material. The software also lets you export files in various formats so that you will have no problem when printing in a Zortrax 3D printer.
FreeCAD is a free parametric 3D modeler. It was created primarily to design real-life objects of any dimensions. Like many other free programs it’s a open-source project developed by the community. It can be configured in many different ways, you can use scripts and plugins. FreeCAD works on Windows, MacOS (formerly OS X) and Linux distributions.
The software can read and save many formats, such as STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DXF, OBJ, IFC, and DAE. It’s intended users are experienced CAD users, programmers, and educators. In order to use it fully you need to have certain abilities beforehand. It’s an interesting alternative to paid CAD software.
All of this cohesive with Z-SUITE
Every tool described above can have numerous applications besides creating 3D models for printing. When you buy Zortrax 3D printers you also receive the Z-SUITE software, which lets you fully prepare models you create for printing. Z-SUITE is also multi-platform and cooperates perfectly with all of the aforementioned free programs for 3D modeling. Z-SUITE is easy to use and lets you prepare models specifically for printing with Zortrax printers.
Free solutions are solutions for both amateurs and professionals. Programs such as Blender of BLR-CAR let you conduct advanced preparations of 3D models for printing, creating them from scratch and editing. All of these programs are supported by Z-SUITE, which makes the printing itself easier. All of this with no additional costs.