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Best Free 3D Design Software / 3D Modeling Software of 2018

Picture of Max von Übel
by Max von Übel
Apr 17, 2018

Looking for free 3D design software? Check out this compilation of the 24 best free 3D modeling software tools available right now for 3D CAD.

Many industries like architecture, engineering, and graphic design are today unthinkable without the use of 3D design software. In addition, many new fields such as 3D animation and game development have emerged. Thanks to many open source projects and companies reaching out to the public, free 3D modeling software is paving the way the exciting projects by 3D modeling enthusiasts.

Alas, the wide range of free 3D design software makes it hard to choose the right one for a given project and more importantly the user. All3DP is here to help. You can search and browse the following table of the free 3D modeling software, or jump to the first item on our list.

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Best Free 3D Design Software / 3D Modeling Software of 2018

Software User Level File Formats OS
3D Slash Beginner 3dslash, obj, STL Windows, Mac, Linux, Raspberry Pi or Browser
Doodle 3D Transform Beginner obj, STL Browser, Android, iOS
FractalLab Beginner png Browser
SculptGL Beginner obj, ply, sgl, STL Browser
TinkerCAD Beginner 123dx, 3ds, c4d, mb, obj, svg, STL Browser
Wings 3D Beginner 3ds, fbx, obj, dae, lwo, wrl, rwx, STL, wrl, x, xml Windows, Mac, Linux
Clara.io Intermediate 3dm, 3ds, cd, dae, dgn, gf, gdf, gts, igs, kmz, lwo, rws, obj, off, ply, pm, sat, scn, skp, slc, sldprt, stp, STL, x3dv, xaml, vda, vrml, x_t, x, xgl, zpr Browser
Daz3D Intermediate obj, fbx, dae, daz Windows, macOS
MagicaVoxel Intermediate 2d, iso, mc, obj, ply, qb slab, vox, xraw Windows, Mac
MakeHuman Intermediate dae, fbx, obj, STL Windows, Mac, Linux
Meshmixer Intermediate amf, mix, obj, off, STL Windows, Mac, and Linux
Sculptris Intermediate obj, goz Windows and Mac
Vectary Intermediate obj, STL, png Browser
DesignSpark Mechanical Advanced rsdoc, dxf, ecad, idf, idb, emn, obj, skp, STL – i(ges, step) Windows
FreeCAD Advanced step, iges, obj, STL, dxf, svg, dae, ifc, off, nastran, vrml, fcstd Windows, Mac, and Linux
OpenSCAD Advanced dxf, off, STL Windows, Mac, and Linux
SketchUp Advanced dwg, dxf, 3ds, dae, dem, def, ifc, kmz, STL Windows, and Mac
Terragen Advanced fbx, obj, ter, tgo Windows, Mac and Linux
Bforartists Professional 3ds, dae, fbx, dxf, obj, x, lwo, svg, ply, STL, vrml, vrml97, x3d Windows, Mac, and Linux
Blender Professional 3ds, dae, fbx, dxf, obj, x, lwo, svg, ply, STL, vrml, vrml97, x3d Windows, Mac, and Linux
Fusion 360 Professional catpart, dwg, dxf, f3d, igs, obj, pdf, sat, sldprt, stp Windows and Mac
Houdini Professional geo, clip Windows, Mac, and Linux
Inventor Professional 3dm, igs, ipt, nx, obj, prt, rvt, sldprt, STL, stp, x_b, xgl Windows
OnShape Professional sat, step, igs, iges, sldprt, STL, 3dm, dae, dfx, dwg, dwt, pdf, x_t, x_b, xxm_txt, ssm_bin Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, iOS & Android

Free 3D Modeling Software For Beginners

1

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software 3D Slash

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: 3D Slash

What is this free 3D design software? 3D Slash is a free 3D modeling software that is designed around the building-block workflow you may know from Minecraft. Individual cubes are worked, subtracted and recombined using an array of everyday tools from your workshop – you can use a hammer, trowel, chisel, pulpwood, and drill. Given that you normally operate with quite abstract entities like vertices or splines, 3D Slash’s approach to 3D modeling is a welcome fresh breeze.

Starting with 3D modeling has never been easier since beginners will achieve impressive 3D printable meshes after only a short time. 3D modeling pros will enjoy this program just for playful, hands-on approach. In addition, all designs can be sent to an online 3D printing service to be printed and sent to you, from the comfort of your browser or desktop application.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? 3D Slash may also be used to import existing STL files and give them a cool pixelated look or modify them with just a few clicks.

What file formats does it support? 3dslash, obj, STL

Operating System? Windows, Mac, Linux, Raspberry Pi or Web Browser.

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the 3D Slash Website.

2

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software Doodle 3D Transform

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: Doodle 3D Transform

What is this free 3D design software? If you are looking for an easy software to get your feet wet in 2D / 3D design, you should give this one a try.

Doodle 3D Transform was made by the creators of Doodle 3D, the first 3D pen. It’s an online design tool for 3D printing with a split-screen 2D-to-3D layout. Amazingly, it lets you turn 2D drawings into 3D designs. 3D printer owners can use a special WiFi-Box to print directly from Transform to their 3D printer. “Scan-and-trace” allows you to shoot a photo on your tablet and use it as a starting point for your drawing. This free 3D design software auto-traces an outline on the photographed shape. Additionally, you can download images from the web as starting points for drawings and designs.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? It’s a great 3D design software for education: 3D modeling is made very easy with this software. There‘s one drawback, though. However, the free version is capped when it comes to saving and exporting files – if you want more options, you will have to pay.

What file formats does it support? obj, STL

Operating System? Browser, Android, iOS

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the 3Doodler website.

3

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software FractalLab

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: FractalLab

What is this free 3D design software? FractalLab is a WebGL based program dedicated to fractal 3D modeling. The free 3D modeling software lets you choose between different kinds of fractals. The basic idea is as follows, you place different constraints on them, such as scale, level of detail or smoothness. What is more, the program features options for texturing, camera control and shading. Considering that this is a free 3D design software it is remarkable how comprehensively you take control over the object and the scene.

To create new fractals from scratch, users need solid knowledge about the mathematics behind it. Everyone else can simply enjoy the fractals supplied in the fractal library of the free 3D design software to adapt them to their liking and explore them.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? Create stunning illustrations that will draw your gaze to explore the minutest details.

What file formats does it support? png

Operating System? Browser

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the FractalLab Website

4

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software SculptGL

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: SculptGL

What is this free 3D design software? SculptGL is the ideal choice if you want to make your feet wet in 3D sculpting. Based on WebGL, it runs without hassle in most modern browsers. Although this free 3D modeling software includes only some basic brushes that emulate the effects of real world sculpting tools, you can achieve impressive results. By activating the symmetry option you save time 3D modeling and make sure you get consistent results for features that are arranged in pairs (faces, limbs etc.)

Although SculptrisGL is a completely free 3D design software, it has some impressive feature to offer. Applying dynamic the topology modifiers you can subdivide a 3D model to create more intricate details. As a rule of thumb, you want to start blocking out large features (arms, heads, limbs) and work your way down the scale to ever finer details (scars, wrinkles). It may be useful to import a generic base mesh to save time. This free 3D modeling software doesn’t compel you to register.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? SculptGL is the right to create realistic looking 3D characters that can be used in 3D animation or as 3D assets in game development.

What file formats does it support? obj, ply, sgl, STL

Operating System? Browser

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the SculptGL Website

5

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software TinkerCAD

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: TinkerCAD

What is this free 3D design software? Even though TinkerCAD may lower the entry barrier into CAD, that doesn’t mean the results are trivial. Initially, you start out with a selection of basic shapes that you drag into the workplane. There, you modify their size and position. This free 3D modeling software features basic tools to perform boolean operations. This simply means you can create complex objects by adding or subtracting simple shapes – so everyone can pick up working with TinkerCAD!

Using the nifty shape generators, this free 3D design software allows you to create complex designs without effort. These are basically macros that specify the properties of many parts, like gears or stairs. Since you don’t need to worry about the intricacies of boolean operations and the like, this feature is even suitable for beginners.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? The designs made in TinkerCAD are suitable for 3D printing and to some degree even rapid prototyping. In case you need more engineering functionalities, take a look at FreeCAD or Fusion 360.

What file formats does it support? 123dx, 3ds, c4d, mb, obj, svg, STL

Operating System? Browser

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the TinkerCAD Website

6

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software Wings 3D

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: Wings 3D

What is this free 3D design software? Wings 3D is a community-developed project that started in 2001. It finds the right balance between a wide range of dedicated tools that give beginners a thorough foundation in 3D modeling and not overwhelming them. Specifically, this means the user interface of this free 3D modeling software is context sensitive, that means depending on what you have selected, different options are available to you. Wings 3D’s intuitive approach offers a simple and quick introduction to the 3D modeling craft.

However, the main strength of Wings 3D lies in its advanced subdivision capabilities. Another forte of this free 3D design software is its AutoUV feature, that enables you to export an unfolded image of your design’s surface for painting and texturing in an image-editing program. Similar to Sculptris, you can even give 3D sculpting a try.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? Wings 3D is an all-purpose 3D modeler that can be used in 3D animation and 3D printing.

What file formats does it support? 3ds, fbx, obj, dae, lwo, wrl, rwx, STL, wrl, x, xml

Operating System? Windows, Mac, Linux

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the Wings 3D Website

Free 3D Modeling Software for Intermediate Users

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Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software Clara.io

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: Clara.io

What is this free 3D design software? Clara.io a free 3D modeling software that runs in most modern browsers. It features all the modeling tools you need in the most common situations: extrusion, beveling, slicing, cutting, and looping. Given that its rendering capabilities are supplied by V-Ray, this free 3D design software exceeds expectations for a browser based suite. For context, V-Ray is a rendering engine that is part of many professional desktop 3D programs.

Using the WebGL standard, Clara.io allows you to embed your 3D models into websites. This feature includes the possibility that visitors interactively manipulate predefined properties of the 3D model, like scale or thickness. In its free version, this free 3D design software comes with 5GB of cloud storage. As can be expected, the paid version brings you more storage, unlimited private scenes and rendering time.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? Since Clara.io runs in the cloud, it is the perfect tool for collaboration on complex 3D animation projects. Featuring basic keyframe animation, it is even the right choice for creating animated movies.

What file formats does it support? 3dm, 3ds, cd, dae, dgn, gf, gdf, gts, igs, kmz, lwo, rws, obj, off, ply, pm, sat, scn, skp, slc, sldprt, stp, STL, x3dv, xaml, vda, vrml, x_t, x, xgl, zpr

Operating System? Browser

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the Clara.io Website

8

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software Daz3D

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: Daz3D

What is this free 3D design software? Daz3D is a 3D modeling software that is primarily gear towards hobbyists. That means this tools takes some short cuts to ease the workflow. You can either buy a ready model on the market place that appeals to you. Alternatively, you start out with one of the preset models and modify it to your liking. Like similar programs, Daz3D has a host of tools to tweak every aspect of the base models, such as the the build, size, and length of limbs. Once you are done styling it with a hair cut, and clothing your creation, you can set up complex scenes with items from a large library library of props that covers many genres.

In addition, Daz3D is loaded with tools for 3D animation. Motion capture data that can be edited to fit your needs is only one of many possibilities this free 3D design software has to offer. The puppeteer tool displays different poses as node in a grid allowing users to animate their model by shifting their mouse between these nodes. If your prefer, you can also assign different poses to your model in the timeline and the program will generate the movements in between them automatically. In other words, 3D animation has never been simpler than with this program.

The best thing about this 3D design software is that you can download it free of charge. It is also worth mentioning that Daz3D offers a 3D Content Marketplace where you can buy and sell your models, poses, and props.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? Daz3D is a fantastic tool to create realistic 3D models of human and humanoid characters. The built-in 3D animation tools help you pose your creations for still images or even complex animated movies.

What file formats does it support? 3ds, dae, fbx, dxf, obj, x, lwo, svg, ply, STL, vrml, vrml97, x3d

Operating System? Windows, Mac

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the Daz3D Website

9

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software MagicaVoxel

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: MagicaVoxel

What is this free 3D design software? If you like Minecraft, but love 3D modeling, then you must give MagicaVoxel a try. In this free 3D modeling software you assemble and recombine tiny cubes (dubbed “voxels”) in order to create nifty pixelated 3D models. Although it’s true that this sounds a lot like 3D Slash, but the toolset available in this free 3D design software is more sophisticated. Users can exploit large palettes of color (custom defined or preset), the actual modeling is done using a large array of 3D brushes and patterns. Another major difference is the renderer that allows for advanced effects, like HDR emissive materials.

Nonetheless, it takes some time to get used to the fairly unorthodox tools in MagicaVoxel. In this free 3D modeling software you choose between modes that either only affects the surface of a mesh, penetrate its volume, or manipulate only select layers of a mesh. Armed with these tools, experienced users can work at a pace that is almost on par with traditional free 3D design software. The advantage of this technique is that you don’t need to piece together complex designs voxel by voxel, instead, you can sketch them out quickly and efficiently.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? The models you make in MagicaVoxel are great 3D assets for games or art for graphic design and 3D animation that need some quirky pixelated delight. Or, why not 3D print your MagicaVoxel designs and show off your 3D modeling skills to your friends?

What file formats does it support? 2d, iso, mc, obj, ply, qb slab, vox, xraw

Operating System? Windows, Mac

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the MagicaVoxel Website

10

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software MakeHuman

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: MakeHuman

What is this free 3D design software? Similar to Poser in its concept, MakeHuman is a free character creation tool that started out as a plugin for Blender. Users create realistic 3D models of humans using sliders that control general properties like age, gender and weight, down to the finest features like the shape of the face or the length of limbs. Essentially, this free 3D modeling software allows you to literally customize your character to the tips of the hair.

In case you don’t want your model to stay nude, you can choose from a variety of clothing that will lend your character additional realism. This free 3D design software also offers a character rigging menu that makes your creation easy to adapt to a variety of applications. Alternatively, a series of pre-recorded motion capture files enables you to preview the 3D model in action.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? 3D models made in MakeHuman are a great base mesh that can be refined in 3D sculpting tools like Sculptris. Other possible applications are 3D game development and 3D animated movies.

What file formats does it support? dae, fbx, obj, STL

Operating System? Windows, Mac, Linux

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the MakeHuman Website

11

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software Meshmixer

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: Meshmixer

What is this free 3D design software? Apart from TinkerCAD, Meshmixer is the second free 3D modeling software published by Autodesk. If you think of TinkerCAD as a precision design tool, then Meshmixer brings many practical tools to the workbench that help to 3D print off your designs. For example, it’s easy to save print time and material by hollowing your 3D file. Additionally, you can check your file for stability with Meshmixer’s range of sophisticated yet easy to use analysis tools. Learn more about how you use this free 3D modeling software in our tutorial:

MeshMixer Tutorial for 3D Printing Beginners

However, Meshmixer is more than a midwife to 3D printing. As hinted at by its name, this free 3D design software has powerful mesh editing capabilities. The namesake Meshmix-mode allows users to combine multiple STL files with each other. Via the intuitive drag-and-drop, you can add presets like ears, antlers or even additional heads to your design to create otherworldly beasts! It goes without saying that you can do the same with your own 3D models. In case you want to create mechanical parts, this free 3D design software has your back. Cut off the fat of bulky designs with patterns to create parts that are optimized for strength and weight. What is more, if you are artistically minded, you can refine your 3D files using the 3D sculpting mode of this free 3D modeling software.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? Meshmixer is an excellent choice when it comes to prepping an STL file for 3D printing. Among the many thoughtfully engineered features are one that automatically calculates the most efficient arrangement for your 3D printer’s measurements. And much more!

What file formats does it support? amf, mix, obj, off, STL

Operating System? Windows, Mac, and Linux

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the Meshmixer Website

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Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software Sculptris

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: Sculptris

What is this free 3D design software? Sculptris is 3D sculpting program that is available free charge from the same software publisher as the commercial option ZBrush. As in similar programs, the basic idea is to work a base mesh using a set of brushes that emulate the effects of real world sculpting tools. Also, you can use this free 3D modeling software to paint textures directly onto your mesh.

It is easy to pick up the basic techniques of Sculptris. You shouldn’t try to create a high-resolution model right from the start. Instead, begin by defining the silhouette (arms, heads, limbs) in very broad brushes. From there you can switch to smaller brushes in this free 3D design software and add finer levels of detail step by step. First define medium-size details, like pronounced muscles, fingers etc. Finally get down to the intricate details like wrinkles or scars using finer brushes. But, take care not to overdo it.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? Sculptris is the right to create realistic looking 3D characters that can be used in 3D animation or as 3D assets in game development.

What file formats does it support? obj, goz

Operating System? Windows and Mac

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the Sculptris Website

13

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software Vectary

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: Vectary

What is this free 3D design software? Vectary is an online 3D modeling tool that allows you to create, share and customize 3D designs. In essence, Vectary is a combination of standard mesh modeling, subdivision modeling, and parametric plugins. It was built from scratch to make 3D modeling easy-to-use for beginners and also can be useful to pros.

Amazingly, this free 3D modeling software is browser-based, so there’s no downloading and installation required. It starts with an easy tutorial, then lets you start 3D designing and modeling. Models are saved automatically in the cloud and also can be shared with friends and colleagues. You also can customize thousands of existing 3D models that are available in Vectory’s cloud.

Let’s talk about usability. The interface is clean and intuitive. While designing in this free 3D modeling software, you can always switch from a low-poly model to a smooth-surface model.

This free 3D design software also has the possibility to add plugins (parametric 3D design, complex shaders, export options); also, the Slovakia-based software is opening its API allowing users to create their own plugins.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? Vectary is a great software for designing sophisticated 3D models quickly. However, be prepared for a few bumps in the road, as this free 3D design software is currently in beta.

What file formats does it support? obj, STL, png

Operating System? Browser

Where can I get this free 3D design software? Surf to the Vectary site.

Free 3D Modeling Software for Advanced Users

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Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software DesignSpark Mechanical

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: DesignSpark Mechanical

What is this free 3D design software? DesignSpark takes its cue from the granddaddy of CAD modeling: AutoCAD. So, if you want to use AutoCAD, but are on a budget this free 3D modeling software worth your time to test it. Unlike many other products on this list, DesignSpark features direct modeling only, which can be seen as a liberation from the constraints of parametric modeling, since you don’t need to concern yourself with relationships of hosts of parameters.

The gesture-based modeling approach of this free 3D design software enables even newbies to create complex geometry. DesignSpark is particularly suitable for designing electronic devices. The PCB import tool allows users of this free 3D modeling software to build enclosures around accurate representations of the circuit boards. Equally useful is DesignSpark’s integrated part library that eliminates the need to draw staple items yourself. The 45.000+ parts included cover most applications and allow you to order parts used in your design quickly and conveniently.

Generally speaking, the basic 3D design software is available for free. However, users can buy add-ons to extend the functionality. For instance, drawing in 2D requires an addon and so does support for iges, and step files.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? DesignSpark is your swiss-army knife 3D modeling tool. It can be used for engineering and even architecture. However, it is equally strong for designing 3D models for 3D printing.

What file formats does it support? rsdoc, dxf, ecad, idf, idb, emn, obj, skp, STL. Formats iges and step require paid addons.

Operating System? Windows

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the DesignSpark Website

What is this free 3D design software? FreeCAD is an open-source and highly customizable, scriptable and extensible parametric free 3D modeling software. Parametric means that you define constraints and parameters for your design that allow you go back into your editing history and modify it by changing the values.

Generally speaking, the foremost audience of FreeCAD is the CAD community. So, if you already know other CAD software, you will learn it in no time. However, if you are only starting out with CAD, the complexity of FreeCAD can feel overwhelming at first. Nonetheless, it’s definitely worth to persevere, as you will be rewarded with an awesome set of features that has no equals among free CAD programs. Specifically, this free 3D modeling software features a modular architecture that allows plugins to be loaded into the core program. You can perform sophisticated operations such as self-weight analysis or simulate robot movements and much more.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? Given its rich set of features, FreeCAD can be used in many engineering and architecture workflows. What is more, as it can output, display and edit G-code, it is the perfect all-in-one-solution for 3D printing.

Tutorial: FreeCAD Tutorial for 3D Printing

What file formats does it support? step, iges, obj, STL, dxf, svg, dae, ifc, off, nastran, vrml and FreeCAD’s native Fcstd file format.

Operating System? Windows, Mac, and Linux

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the FreeCAD Website

16

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software OpenSCAD

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: OpenSCAD

What is this free 3D design software? OpenSCAD is not your run-off-the-mill free 3D modeling software, as you don’t edit your mesh using your mouse. Instead, you define the dimensions of primitive shapes in code. Then you piece them together using boolean operations to form one solid 3D model. This approach to 3D modeling enables a higher degree precision and prevents many errors.

Admittedly, it takes a while for beginners to wrap their hands around this concept. However, the advantages will make it worth your while! Many other free 3D design software can drive you into a corner since you cannot undo changes you made to a mesh. OpenSCAD has none of these problems – the design does not degrade over time, as the 3D mesh is generated anew every time you compile the code file.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? This 3D design software is an excellent choice for technical designs and parametric modeling. Because code fragments can be reused for later projects, the workflow can be quite fast, once you have mastered the program. It is equally easy to generate similar 3D objects but different dimension, as you can go back and changed these values in the code.

What file formats does it support? dxf, off, STL

Operating System? Windows, Mac, and Linux

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the OpenSCAD Website

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Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software SketchUp

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: SketchUp

What is this free 3D design software? SketchUp is a simple to learn, but comprehensive free 3D modeling software. It features advanced tools that are suitable for complex designs and put you into full control of every minute detail of your design. Conversely, SketchUp comes with a steep learning curve. Once you have overcome it, you will be rewarded with an excellent CAD tool. This free 3D design software allows users to quickly sketch out the shapes of their design relative to existing shapes. This approach is intuitive and makes fine tuning complex designs quite easy.

In addtion, SketchUp has set up its own repository of about 2.2 million 3D models. Here, you can find trees, houses etc. to populate architectural illustrations. If that is not enough to convince of SketchUp’s value, a dedicated user community is constantly writing plugins that extend the functionality of this free 3D modeling software. Most of these extensions are available free of charge.

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What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? SketchUp is not only an excellent choice for realizing 3D printing projects, it is also a great addition to your 3D animation and graphic design workflow.

What file formats does it support? dwg, dxf, 3ds, dae, dem, def, ifc, kmz, STL

Operating System? Windows and Mac

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the SketchUp Website

18

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software Terragen

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: Terragen

What is this free 3D design software? Terragen is a program that is centered on designing and rendering photorealistic landscapes. The terrain is generated using a powerful shader system that enables sophisticated texturing and surface manipulation. Using a procedural nodes system, the user has full control of his creation, down to the last pebble. In addition, this free 3D modeling software allows you to populate the scene with a wide array of preset trees, rocks, and other props to enhance the overall realism.

Comprehensive controls of atmospherics phenomena, like volumetric clouds, fog, sky, the sun, and stars, make your landscape come to life. You can build entire planets inside this 3D modeling software. As can be expected from a professional solution, this free 3D design software has the ability to import DEM files of real world landscapes which can be handy when doing visualizations. Unsurprisingly, the free version of Terragen has a number of limitations in terms of maximum render size and other properties.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? Terragen is invaluable additions to projects that call for realistic landscapes. It is often used in high-profile commercial applications like architectural visualization, 3D animation, visual effects and game development.

What File Formats does it support? fbx, obj, ter, tgo

On what Operating System does it run? Windows, Mac, and Linux

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the Terragen Website

Free 3D Modeling Software for Professional Users

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Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software Bforartists

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: Bforartists

What is this free 3D design software? One complaint that is often heard with regard to Blender is that the 3D modeling software is highly inaccessible for beginners. Its user interface is cluttered with double entries, it uses mouse buttons counter-intuitively and it relies heavily on hotkeys. Enter the Blender community. Unlike commercial 3D modeling software, this program is completely open source, hence the community is free to address this issue by developing a fork.

Bforartists is just this answer to the many complaints concerning Blender’s user interface. This free 3D design software offers the same feature-set as Blender. Since the current release is based on the most recent version of Blender – so you don’t have to trade in usability for features. This also means Bforartists reads and writes Blender files.

The first thing you will notice is that Bforartists features a better readable theme, this is because the developers chose a new font and boosted the the color scheme for higher contrast.

Have you ever wondered, why Blender’s UI looks overly crowded? In Bforartists, the user interface has been cleaned. In sum, the developers of this free 3D design software removed more than 300 double entries from the menus. These menus are in many cases copies of tabs on the left side to the viewport.

The most important change that Bforartists introduced is a 180 degree turn in workflow philosophy that will make this 3D modeling software more accessible to hobbyists and professionals who until now shied away from Blender’. This is because Blender’s workflow is centered around using many hotkeys that users need to memorize if they want to work quickly and efficiently. While this maybe acceptable to professional 3D designers who work with Blender on daily and have thus the chance to familiarize themselves with their tools. However, this is a huge problem for those who only occasionally need 3D models for their work or want to learn the program – it takes months to build up the muscle memory necessary to work effectively. To make things worse, in Blender many tools that are often needed, require as much as 4 keys! Bforartists on the other hand relies on a user interface that is self-explanatory and intuitive. Over 100 tools that are only accessible through hotkeys in Blender now have menu entries in Bforartists.

On the flip side, this means that if you are already familiar with Blender’s hotkeys then you may be confused by the new hotkeys in the beginning. You should also be aware of another ramification of this change in mind. Using the standard Blender tutorials will become a bit of an effort, since you will have to translate between the two versions of the 3D modeling software as you work through the materials. Luckily, the developers of Bforartists have also thought of this issue and rewritten and sometimes even improved upon the original documentation of Blender.

What is more, Bforartists takes into account the different tasks the 3D modeling software can be used for. Hence, it comes with a set of pre-configured views for 3D modeling, UV editing, compositing and more. And the tooltips have also been improved.

Bforartists corrected one issue that is irritating to any first-time user of Blender: Right-Click to Select. Blender must be the only program in the known universe to use a setup like this that diametrically opposed to how users use the Left-Click to select objects.

Users of this free 3D design software can further customize the program to fit their workflow. Menus are configurable. Tools use icons to reduce the amount of time needed to scroll through the user interface, if you prefer to read the tools’ names you can turn them on.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? Bforartists is geared towards independent artists and hobbyists who wanted to use Blender, but were scared off by its inaccessible user interface.

What file formats does it support? 3ds, dae, fbx, dxf, obj, x, lwo, svg, ply, STL, vrml, vrml97, x3d

Operating System? Windows, Mac, and Linux

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the Bforartists Website

20

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software Blender

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: Blender

What is this free 3D design software? Blender is a professional grade, free 3D modeling software that is both comprehensive and completely open-source. Apart from the 3D modeling functionalities that are at the program’s core, it also features modules dedicated to highly specialized tasks. For instance, Blender can be used as a 3D sculpting suite that is comparable to other industry programs like Mudbox or Sculptris.

Blender is also an excellent tool for visual effects production. To give an example, the integrated camera movement tracker eliminates the need to switch to another program. You simply load raw footage into the program and then you can either track it manually or automatically. Thanks to Blender’s Python API this program can be customized to your project’s requirements. However, this wealth of features makes Blender one of the more challenging free 3D modeling software tools to master. If you feel that you are in over your head with Blender, try Bforartists. This is a fork of Blender, that attempts to make the free 3D design software more accessible to beginners.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? Owing to the many hats Blender wears, it is no wonder that is being used in a wide range of 3D animation applications, such as games, TV series and even feature films.

Tutorial: Blender Tutorial for 3D Printing: How To 3D Print Text

What file formats does it support? 3ds, dae, fbx, dxf, obj, x, lwo, svg, ply, STL, vrml, vrml97, x3d

Operating System? Windows, Mac, and Linux

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the Blender Website

21

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software Fusion 360

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: Fusion 360

What is this free 3D design software? Autodesk Fusion 360 combines the different steps of the product development process into a single 3D modeling software. On the modeling side proper you have tools like freeform modeling and sculpting, solid modeling and parametric modeling at you disposal. For your engineering needs, you can take advantage of sophisticated simulations, such as structural integrity analysis or assembly modeling. Equally amazing is the program’s ability to fabricate your parts using CNC toolpaths or 3D printing, making it a true Swiss army knife for production.

This free 3D modeling software has an additional edge by of extensive collaborative features that allow large teams to work concurrently on parts and to manage versioning of files. Autodesk Fusion 360 is available for free for non-commercial use for one full year. Students and educators can even apply for free 3-year licenses.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? Autodesk Fusion 360 is an excellent choice for intricate engineering designs that the insight of large teams. Its fabrication features make this program the ideal tool to quickly produce and test prototypes.

What file formats does it support? catpart, dwg, dxf, f3d, igs, obj, pdf, sat, sldprt, stp

On what Operating System does it run? Windows and Mac

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the Fusion 360 Website

22

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software Houdini

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: Houdini

What is this free 3D design software? Houdini is a procedural free 3D modeling software that is designed around a node based workflow. Similarly to parametric modeling, this technique allows you to alter the entire model by changing individual parameters (nodes). This feature equally enables users to reuse objects and makes the program stand out from competitors like 3DS Max.

However, another reason why this free 3D design software is an industry favorite, is that is includes complex particle effects for fluids etc. Although the free version of Houdini has all the features of the commercial product, it comes with a few limitations that you should be aware of: You can only render up to a resolution of 1280 ✕ 720 px, third party renderers are not enabled and every rendered image will feature a small Houdini logo.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? The procedural modeling approach of Houdini allows you to quickly generate complex geometries at a constant level of quality. From carefully sculpted terrain maps to varied spaceship corridors – almost everything can be generated efficiently. That’s why Houdini’s parametric magic is a popular tool for game development and 3D animation apart from being one of the free 3D modeling software tools.

What file formats does it support? geo, clip

Operating System? Windows, Mac, and Linux

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the Houdini Website

23

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software Inventor

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: Inventor

What is this free 3D design software? With Autodesk Inventor you get a highly professional product development suite that comprises tools for 3D mechanical design, simulation, and documentation. At the base, Inventor brings powerful parametric modeling tools to the workbench, means that you define constraints and parameters for your design. These values can be changed later in the project, allowing you to reshape your entire design to adapt it. Inventor goes beyond what most other free 3D modeling software can offer. To give only one example, its iLogic programming language allows users to “code” complex assemblies and create menus making it convenient to alter them.

Moreover, this free 3D design software supports AnyCAD even enabling collaborating with CAD tools from competitors. Without the translation between file formats, complex associations between components remain in force and need not to be established anew. Autodesk offers a free version to students.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? Autodesk Inventor is geared towards teams of engineers that need to collaborate on large scale projects. The following example illustrates the sophistication of Inventor: One of the smart technologies that supplement traditional design strategies is the shape generator that lets users specify the volume of a part and the locations where forces will be applied. It then generates strong, yet light-weight parts.

What file formats does it support? 3dm, igs, ipt, nx, obj, prt, rvt, sldprt, STL, stp, x_b, xgl

Operating System? Windows

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the Inventor Website

24

Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software OnShape

Image of Free 3D Design Software / Free 3D Modeling Software: OnShape

What is this free 3D design software? OnShape is an engineering grade CAD suite developed by former Solidworks staff members. It is more than a free 3D modeling software. Similarly to Fusion 360, it seeks to integrate the entire engineering workflow into one program, from initial design to testing. In terms of traditional CAD functionalities, you get the full might of parametric modeling at your disposal.

Later in the workflow, this free 3D design software features test assemblies of complex many part designs that can be explored in detail using animations. This feature enables you to spot problems before even one real world part is made. Yet another strength lies in OnShape’s comprehensive collaborative capabilities. The project’s user management allows you to track the edits of every team member and manage team using versioning. For this reasons, this 3D design software is delivered as a cloud service. A large range of apps extends this free 3D modeling software’s usability with simulations, CAM, rendering and much more.

What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? OnShape is an impressive solution for engineering that rivals in some respects Autodesk’s Fusion 360.

What file formats does it support? sat, step, igs, iges, sldprt, STL, 3dm, dae, dfx, dwg, dwt, pdf, x_t, x_b, xxm_txt, ssm_bin

Operating System? Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook and mobile devices (iOS & Android)

Where can I get this free 3D design software? On the OnShape Website

License: The text of "Best Free 3D Design Software / 3D Modeling Software of 2018" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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