8 Best Free 3D Printing Software to Try in 2019

Michael Gigante
Michael Gigante  |  June 26, 2019

While the general public may view 3D printing as a way to create fun knickknacks, the reality is that 3D printing has evolved in a way that is advancing modern health care, manufacturing and architecture.

Today the healthcare industry leverages 3D printing technology to create artificial organs for transplant patients, as well as prosthetics that reduce the cost to only $100. In the aviation industry, Boeing plans on using 3D printing to develop an entire aircraft, which is projected to save the company $3 million. And the commercial impact shows that 93% of companies that use 3D printing reduce their time to market. 

The research is there, and the numbers are staggering. 3D printing is truly revolutionizing the way we manufacture objects. However, it's important to keep in mind that you can find pretty good 3D printers under $300, a fraction of the cost of a solid desktop 3D printer from just a few years ago.

So what tools do all these businesses use to get their ideas all the way to a fully realized object? The answer is 3D printing software.

Find the best 3D Printing software on the market →

What is 3D printing software?

3D printing software connects with 3D printers to facilitate the creation of actual physical objects. 3D printers take the instructions from 3D printing software and then join or solidify material to create the 3D object in real life. 3D printers create objects by printing them out, layer by layer, until they are complete.

Since 3D modeling software can only create a model of an object, it is the 3D printing software that translates the 3D object into a readable format for the 3D printer. This process of breaking down the 3D object into a readable format is called slicing. When the process of slicing a 3D object is completed, it generates a readable language for the 3D printer. This language is called the G-code. Once slicing is complete, accurate G-code commands will be produced which is necessary to complete the print.


Top free 3D printing tools for 2019

The good news about 3D printing software is that there are many platforms that are completely free to use. Some are open-source cross platform tools, while others are cloud-based solutions.

These products have more than 50 validated user reviews on G2 as of May 2, 2019. They represent a portion of the 25-plus 3D printing software offerings listed on our platform. Whenever possible, the products are ranked by user Satisfaction score from an in-depth analysis of the best 3D printing software.

The list we’ve outlined below includes our top 3D printing software with free offerings. They may only support one user or one project, but they’re truly free offerings. Scaling, however, will often require full investment.


1. Ultimaker Cura

Ultimaker Cura logo

Product Name: Ultimaker Cura
G2 Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5.0 stars
Total Number of Reviews: 12

 

Overview

Ultimaker Cura is a 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.                  

 

Free option

  • Ultimaker Cura is a completely free, open-source software.

Features

  • 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

2. TinkerCAD 

Tinkercad-Free-CAD

Product Name: TinkerCAD
G2 Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0 stars
Total Number of Reviews: 31

 

Overview

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.                                                                         

Free option:

  • TinkerCAD is a free online collection of 3D design tools.

Features:

  • Import 2D and 3D models
  • Laser cutting
  • Click to 3D print
  • Cloud storage

3. Meshlab

MeshlabProduct Name: MeshLab
G2 Star Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars
Total Number of Reviews: 1

 

Overview

Meshlab is an open-source system for processing and editing 3D triangular meshes. This software provides tools for editing, rendering, texturing and converting meshes. Its editing functionalities let users remesh 3D models and make it easier to slice and prepare the design for 3D printing.

Free option:

  • Meshlab is a completely free, open-source system.

Features:

  • 3D reconstruction
  • 3D color mapping and texturing
  • 3D printing, offsetting, hollowing and closing

4. Meshmixer

Meshmixer logo

Product Name: Meshmixer
G2 Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0 stars
Total Number of Reviews: 3

 

Overview

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. Take a look at how people are using the multi-material design functionality below:                                                        

 

Free option

  • Meshmixer is a free software downloadable for Windows and Mac.

Features

  • Drag-and-drop mesh mixing
  • Robust convert-to-solid for 3D printing
  • Automatic print bed orientation optimization, layout, and packing

5. Repetier-Host

repetier host logoProduct NameRepetier-Host
G2 Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0 stars
Total Number of Reviews: 2

 

Overview

Repetier-Host is an all-in-one 3D printing solution. It supports four slicers, including Slic3r, Slic3r  Prusa Edition, CuraEngine, and Skeinforge. Once your object is sliced, you can view necessary changes with preview printing in the interface. Users can also duplicate as many models as can fit onto the interface at once, which allows for easy multi-part printing.     

Free option

  • Completely free download for Windows, Linux and Mac.

Features

  • Multi-part printing
  • Multi-slicer support
  • Pre-print price estimator

6. 3DPrinterOS

3DPrinterOS logoProduct Name3DPrinterOS
G2 Star Rating4.0 out of 5.0 stars
Total Number of Reviews: 2

 

Overview

3DPrinterOS is an operating system built for 3D print management. Its chief benefit is its integration with almost all 3D printers, as the company's business model is focused on bringing everyone access to 3D printing. Additionally, within the software, users can prepare their product for 3D printing with STL editing and repairing features.

                                                                                  

Free option

  • Basic features that are listed below.

Features

  • STL editor
  • Upload and print G-codes
  • Remote monitoring
  • G-code and toolpath viewing

7.  OctoPrint

Octoprint logoProduct Name: Octoprint
G2 Star Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars
Total Number of Reviews: 1

 

Overview

Octoprint is a free, open-source software that was built to give users complete control over every aspect of their 3D printing. With Wi-Fi-enabled connectivity, users can control the print job straight from their web interface and visualize the G-code. This is a great tool for intermediate users who want more control over their 3D printing.

Octoprint 3D printing                                                                                                        Image courtesy of Octoprint

Free 14-day trial option

  • Free and open-source software.

Features

  • Full remote control and monitoring
  • STL file editing
  • G-code visualizer

8. Netfabb

netfabb logoProduct NameNetfabb
G2 Star Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars
Total number of reviews: 1 

  

Overview

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.

 

Free option

  • Free for 30 days for standard users. Free three years for students.

Features

  • Model import, repair and editing
  • Design optimization
  • Additive manufacturing simulation

Extra free tools

There are a variety of other free 3D printing tools on G2’s website that do not have reviews or ratings. If the above products don’t meet all of your business needs, then make sure to check out the list below. Or better yet, if you have used these products, feel free to leave their first user reviews!

Dive head first into 3D printing software.

If you are a beginner who is just getting introduced to the world of 3D printing, don’t be afraid of diving in head first. Mastering the art of 3D printing is all about experimenting with different designs until you create something that you are satisfied with.

On the flip side, if you are an experienced user who is looking to switch software, the free 3D printing software that we laid out is a great way to evaluate your needs.

Ready to learn more about 3D modeling? Check out our article on the best 3D modeling programs for beginners.

* Please note: Reviews may have been edited for spelling and grammar.

Michael Gigante
Author

Michael Gigante

Mike is an associate research analyst focusing on CAD and PLM software. Since joining G2 in October 2018, Mike has grounded his work in the industrial and architectural design space by gaining market knowledge in building information modeling, computer-aided engineering and manufacturing, and product and machine design. Mike leverages his knowledge of the CAD market to accurately represent the space for buyers, build out new software categories on G2, and provide consumers with data-driven content and research. Mike is a Chicago native. In his spare time he enjoys going to improv shows, watching sports, and reading Wikipedia pages on virtually any subject.