Software for 3D Printing - UK Top Picks

Which 3D printing software is best for creating print-ready 3D models? How about making your own 3D models? And, what do you require if you are a beginner?

Don’t worry; we’ve handled all of the questions about the most prominent 3d printing software and provided information on competence levels. What’s even better, some of our best picks are completely free or offer a free version alongside the premium.

Show more

UK's Top-Rated Free and Paid 3D Printer Software

1. Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is a professional CAD program tool developed by Autodesk, the design software pioneers. Unlike any other professional solid-body 3D modelling software, this software is highly user-friendly. Moreover, it covers the whole process of designing, testing, and executing a 3D design. Full Review

  • Intuitive UI
  • Free for non-commercial use
  • Top-down 3D CAD design

Fusion 360 is a professional CAD program tool developed by Autodesk, the design software pioneers. Unlike any other professional solid-body 3D modelling software, this software is highly user-friendly. Moreover, it covers the whole process of designing, testing, and executing a 3D design. Full Review

2. PrusaSlicer (free)

PrusaSlicer, which started as a fork of Slic3r, is an ideal printer slicer that has grown in popularity for various reasons. It not only offers a variety of adjustable settings, but it also includes several useful features not found in the original Slic3er software. In addition, there are several upgrades over the original software, including a redesigned UI, native support for Prusa’s own printer line, and valuable presets for various popular materials. Full Review

  • Customisable support structures
  • Multi-material support
  • Free to download

PrusaSlicer, which started as a fork of Slic3r, is an ideal printer slicer that has grown in popularity for various reasons. It not only offers a variety of adjustable settings, but it also includes several useful features not found in the original Slic3er software. In addition, there are several upgrades over the original software, including a redesigned UI, native support for Prusa’s own printer line, and valuable presets for various popular materials. Full Review

3. Autodesk AutoCAD

AutoCAD is a computer-aided 3D imaging software and sketching tool intended for small and medium-sized enterprises. Within a single suite, it provides 2D documentation, 3D design, and collaborative features. In addition, the solution is accessible for both cloud and on-premise deployment. Full Review

  • Cloud function
  • Manages large projects
  • Customisable

AutoCAD is a computer-aided 3D imaging software and sketching tool intended for small and medium-sized enterprises. Within a single suite, it provides 2D documentation, 3D design, and collaborative features. In addition, the solution is accessible for both cloud and on-premise deployment. Full Review

4. Cura (free)

Cura 3D is the new representative printer slicer, so much that many users are still unaware of its powerful features. Simply load the model, choose the quality, then press the print button. After that, it’s just like traditional 2D printing. Cura is maintained by Ultimaker, a 3D printer company known for its precision (as seen by its printers). Full Review

  • Free to download
  • Free updates
  • Free add-ons

Cura 3D is the new representative printer slicer, so much that many users are still unaware of its powerful features. Simply load the model, choose the quality, then press the print button. After that, it’s just like traditional 2D printing. Cura is maintained by Ultimaker, a 3D printer company known for its precision (as seen by its printers). Full Review

5. Onshape

Onshape is a cutting-edge SaaS 3D art software design platform that simplifies product development. It is an all-in-one solution that integrates CAD, release management, workflow, collaboration, analytics, administrative tools, and an API with over 50 engineering applications. Full Review

  • Free CAD software in collaborative mode
  • File versioning system
  • Ease of access

Onshape is a cutting-edge SaaS 3D art software design platform that simplifies product development. It is an all-in-one solution that integrates CAD, release management, workflow, collaboration, analytics, administrative tools, and an API with over 50 engineering applications. Full Review

6. 3DPrinterOS (free)

3DPrinterOS is the world's first desktop 3D CAD software operating system. 3DPrinterOS is a comprehensive tool that makes it easy to manage files, machines, and users around your business. In addition, users of 3D printing will benefit from the software's mobility and flexibility in terms of slicing software. Full Review

  • Very fast slicing
  • Cloud solution
  • Simultaneous slicing

3DPrinterOS is the world's first desktop 3D CAD software operating system. 3DPrinterOS is a comprehensive tool that makes it easy to manage files, machines, and users around your business. In addition, users of 3D printing will benefit from the software's mobility and flexibility in terms of slicing software. Full Review

7. MeshLab (free)

MeshLab is an open-source, free 3D modelling software that provides tools for processing and modifying 3D triangular meshes. Users can use this free app to edit, clean, repair, inspect, render, and convert meshes, as well as merge models into solid and patch up holes in your 3D model. Full Review

  • Free STL file editor
  • Repair tool
  • 3D model reconstruction

MeshLab is an open-source, free 3D modelling software that provides tools for processing and modifying 3D triangular meshes. Users can use this free app to edit, clean, repair, inspect, render, and convert meshes, as well as merge models into solid and patch up holes in your 3D model. Full Review

8. SolidWorks

SolidWorks is a 3D CAD software program that includes integrated analytical tools and design automation. It can stimulate physical behaviour such as kinematics, dynamics, temperatures, or fluid flow to fit all sorts of designs. SolidWorks features are simple to understand and use, and they can help you design better 3D models. Full Review

  • Expansive feature set
  • Stable and reliable
  • Sheet metal bend parts

SolidWorks is a 3D CAD software program that includes integrated analytical tools and design automation. It can stimulate physical behaviour such as kinematics, dynamics, temperatures, or fluid flow to fit all sorts of designs. SolidWorks features are simple to understand and use, and they can help you design better 3D models. Full Review

Detailed Reviews

  • Intermediate level
  • Supports Windows and MacOS
  • A free and premium version
  • Design function

Fusion 360 is a robust free CAD software for 3D printing currently on the market. It is one of the most popular choices among mechanical engineers, designers, and machinists.

This 3D printing software includes robust parametric and analytic mesh tools that are well-suited to most industrial challenges. Furthermore, it can mimic the specified components’ construction, and their stresses once built and put to use.

It distinguishes itself by providing powerful collaborative features. For example, it allows cloud-based file sharing, version control, and the import/export of standard CAD file types.

Fusion 360 3D design software is entirely free for a short time if you are a hobbyist, student, or startup. However, there are a few restrictions:

  • Hobbyist usage must be non-commercial
  • Startups must earn less than £72,661 per year
  • The Educational license is only valid for three years

Fusion 360 UI | CyberCrew

  • Beginner level
  • Supports Windows, MacOS, and Linux
  • Free
  • Slicer function

PrusaSlicer is an ideal printer slicer for slicing models in FDM and resin printers. It includes several modes that allow you to change settings depending on your skill level, with Expert unlocking many options. But don’t fear; even simple profiles can perform admirably in PrusaSlicer.

The ability to utilise modifier meshes is one of the essential tools in PrusaSlicer. These are shapes produced within the program that are not printed but impact the settings for printed components. For example, the modifiers can restrict or enforce supports, adjust infill patterns or densities, and establish a particular number of perimeters.

PrusaSlicer is one of the most popular slicer programs, and it has a stylish UI and appearance. You can see the different tools across the screen, and the majority of them are accessible by keyboard shortcuts. PrusaSlicer, coming from Slic3r, retains compatibility for most of the original features from Slic3r and even supports Slic3r configuration bundles when importing profiles.

 

PrusaSlicer Software | CyberCrew

  • Professional level
  • Supports Windows and MacOS
  • Free (for students and education) and Premium version
  • Modelling, Rendering, Mesh Modeling, Design, and 3D Printer Host function

AutoCAD is a 3D large-scale modeller and design software developed by Autodesk for product design, industrial planning, building design, civil infrastructure, and construction.

Furthermore, AutoCAD can create 2D drawings, drafts, documentation, and 3D models and visualisations. Meanwhile, users can add lighting and materials to their 3D models to obtain a realistic appearance and rendering while creating a 3D model and visualisation. In addition, they have control over the edges, lighting, and shading in their models.

Another excellent feature of AutoCAD is that users can personalise the software’s user interface to optimise their work.

 

Autodesk AutoCAD Software | CyberCrew

  • Beginner level
  • Supports Windows, MacOS, and Linux
  • Free
  • Slicer and 3D Printer Host functions

Cura is the standard slicer software for all Ultimaker 3D printers, but it is compatible with most other 3D printers. In addition, it is an entirely open-source slicer and can be modified using a plug-in system.

Cura is a free printing software that converts the 3D STL, OBJ, or 3MF into a printer-compatible format. 3D printers that utilise a fused filament fabrication (FFF) print one layer on top of another to create a 3D item. Cura 3D examines the 3D model and determines how the layers should be put on the print bed, then provides a set of instructions for the printer to follow – layer on layer.

This 3D printing tool is simple to use. It allows you to control the most crucial 3D print settings in a well-designed straightforward interface. Start in “Recommended” mode for a fast onboarding process, where you can select customised printer quality settings.

Switch to “Custom” mode if you want more accurate control over the settings. Cura’s “Custom” option allows users to fine-tune over 400 settings. Because this slicer is continuously being updated and improved, new versions are released regularly.

 

Cura Software | CyberCrew

  • Professional level
  • Supports browsers
  • Free (for students only), Standard, and Professional
  • Design function

Onshape is a powerful browser-based computer-aided design software that runs entirely on the web. This software is aimed at professional users who need version control and the ability to communicate quickly. You also get parametric 3D print models and file-less projects via the cloud to all stakeholders.

The collaborative mode is one of the most intriguing aspects of this open-source 3D printing software. Unlike installed CAD and PDM, OnShape provides everybody on the team with instant access to the same CAD workspace and CAD data in a centralised cloud location. Another helpful feature is handling a master design without storing duplicates or keeping track of multiple file versions.

Typically, access to Onshape would require payment, but educators and their students are lucky. It is possible to create a “Class” for communal usage of Onshape at school, granting whole classes free access to its robust features. Onshape is also free for non-commercial projects for hobbyists and makers in an open-source, public workspace.

Onshape Software | CyberCrew

  • Beginner level
  • Supports Windows, MacOS, Ubuntu, and Raspberry Pi
  • Free Starter version and Single Pro licence
  • STL Editor, STL Repair, Slicer, and 3D Printer Host function

3DPrinterOS is a cloud-based solution for 3D printer administration. It includes print job queuing and delegation, printer control, and an app-based plug-in system for STL analysis and repair, as well as in-cloud slicing.

The free Starter package allows users to upload and print Gcode, examine toolpaths, remotely monitor printing progress, and access the forum. Advanced features, such as printer sharing and permissions, project sharing, print queuing, simultaneous slicing, and customised assistance, are available for £10 per month. For educational institutions, more advanced versions of 3DPrinterOS are accessible for free.

3DPrinterOS is essentially a one-stop shop for going from an STL to a printed product with minimal effort. As a result, manufacturers, universities, companies, and 3D designers will benefit the most from this 3D editing software. In addition, Cura may be a better alternative for people looking for a 3D printing slicer for their home 3D printer.

3DPrinterOS Software | CyberCrew

  • Professional level
  • Supports Windows, MacOS, and Linux
  • Free
  • STL Editor and STL Repair function

MeshLab is an open-source 3D model maker for processing and editing unstructured 3D triangular polygons. The system is designed to aid in processing typical not-so-small unstructured models generated by 3D scanning by offering a collection of tools for editing, cleaning, healing, inspecting, rendering, and converting those meshes.

The MeshLab is the best free CAD software for 3D printing that is perfect for processing raw CAD data and preparing 3D models for printing.

MeshLab’s most recent version was published in 2016, yet it still stands out as a free STL file editor and repair tool. Overall, MeshLab is a good alternative if you seek 3D printing software to fix and clean up unattractive 3D print models.

MeshLab Software | CyberCrew

 

SolidWorks
SolidWorks

Mechanical engineers

Visit Website
  • Intermediate level
  • Supports Windows and MacOS
  • Free/ start-up package, Student package, and Standalone package
  • 3D Modeling, 3D Editing, Design, and 3D Rendering function

Dassault Systèmes developed Solidworks, which is a famous 3D shape maker among 3D designers. It provides a comprehensive set of tools and features for designing 3D models for industrial use. Furthermore, Solidworks has many specific and one-of-a-kind features that enable experts to develop creative 3D designs.

You can use this 3D animation and rendering software to develop both 2D and 3D designs. For instance, to make your composition more straightforward to read, add hatchings, or change the opacity of particular parts. The software also offers a library of materials such as wood, brick, and glass.

While the lighting and photorealistic rendering aren’t as convincing as in some other 3D printer software, they will effectively help your clients, teammates, and employers picture your work. These tools are handy when working on small projects, such as individual components. However, remember that Solidworks is not a large scale modeller and can’t function well while working on massive, complex projects, such as plane engines.

SolidWorks Software | CyberCrew

How to Choose the Right 3D Printing Software for You

– BUYER’S GUIDE –

 

Developing 3D modelling software used to cost a lot. Furthermore, it would need a particular set of skills to operate. However, 3D printing software tools have become more connected in terms of engineering and design skills.

Today, 3D printing tools include advanced features such as cloud integration and virtual reality support to simulate the 3D model efficiently. With these capabilities, you get a user-friendly interface, which has allowed many non-technical individuals to enter the 3D software field.

With so many tools on the market, it’s critical to understand which one would be ideal for your needs.

Budget, Experience, and Features

For making an optimal choice, it is crucial to evaluate each tool against your requirements thoroughly. Whether you’re a hobbyist, business person, or video game designer, you need to select the best 3D CAD software for your purposes.

 

  • Your Budget: Ensure that the software’s subscription cost is within your budget while fulfilling all criteria. For example, it is best to start with open-source 3D printing software choices like Cura or Onshape, if you’re a newbie.
  • Features: Several tools are ideal for industrial use and include a plethora of advanced features. Here, you have to ask yourself if those features are functional or worth the cost. If you want to opt for an abundance of features, Autodesk AutoCAD has a large set of features that may be useful to you.
  • Learning Curve: Several tools include a profusion of features and the requirement to write scripts, which can be complex. As a result, you can properly research the learning curve for using the 3D software.

Use of 3D Software

Customisation: Look for sculpting, editing history, and using 2D models to make 3D models as customisation features. Excellent customisation features as found in Meshlab software will assist you in creating more spectacular 3D print models.

Cloud collaboration: Cloud-enabled 3D design software will allow you and your team to communicate better over 3D models and design programs. Users can also use the cloud to access the program anywhere to participate in 3D modelling and printing. The best software example for this feature is the 3DPrinterOS.

File format: The more file formats the software supports, the simpler it is to import and merge new elements into the 3D model.

Simulation: The simulation element in VR can assist designers in identifying gaps and flaws in the design early on. It saves time and money by allowing you to see model histories.

Scalability: Look for 3D modelling software that has robust adjustment options for scaling the design of the 3D model to any size. You’d be able to make 3D models of any shape and size using it. The best software for this feature is SolidWorks.

Types of 3D Printing Software 

Slicer (also known as slicing software): Most 3D printing procedures use software to transform 3D models to particular printer instructions. Here in our article, we have some of the best slicers, such as PrusaSlicer, 3DPrinterOS, and Cura software.

CAD software: Computer-aided design is the tool that converts a design into a ready-to-manufacture state. It is the virtual software environment where designers and engineers transform idea sketches into three-dimensional models that can be viewed in the 3D gallery. Later they can be optimised, simulated, and directly printed or manufactured using traditional manufacturing processes.

Here’s a list of some of the best CAD software:

 

  • Fusion 360
  • Solidworks
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • OnShape

 

3D modelling software: 3D modelling is creating a mathematical representation of a three-dimensional object or shape using the software. An artist uses a simple 3D modeller (software) to manipulate points in virtual space (called vertices) to form a mesh – a collection of vertices that form an object. The final product is a 3D model, and these 3D models are used in various industries. For this category, SolidWorks and Autodesk AutoCAD are among the honourable mentions.

3D printer host:  The host connects your computer to the 3D printer and operates all communication between the two devices (3D printer and your PC). From our best picks, Cura, 3DPrinterOS, and Autodesk AutoCAD act as 3D printer hosts and are great examples.

Wrap Up

From construction and manufacturing to technology and healthcare, 3D printing is still in its early stages. Still, it promises to generate life-like models from software, improve design efficiency, and speed up the creation of many complex objects.

Our article listed only a few of the best software for 3D printing on the market. However, all of these tools are capable of meeting your requirements and deliver many great projects. In addition, they have an outstanding balance between being affordable (or even free) while offering great functions.

FAQ

What is the best free 3D printing software?

It all depends on your needs and what you will be printing. However, some of the best free choices are Cura, 3DPrinterOS, MeshLab and more. They have the perfect balance between availability and features, and all of them come with robust features.

What software is needed for a 3D printer?

You need an open-source slicer. For example, since Cura is an open-source slicer, you can use it with almost any 3D printer. This 3D printing tool is excellent for novices because it is simple and gives you a fast response. Advanced users can access an additional 200 options to fine-tune their prints.

What is the best 3D modelling software for beginners?

There are a few great options of the most accessible 3D modelling software for beginners. Some of them are Onshape, Fusion 360, MeshLab, and more. For example, Fusion 360 is excellent for polygonal modelling techniques.

Which is the easiest 3D software?

It all varies on your requirements and the type of “3D” work you’re making. Many programs specialise in certain features. For example, creating simpler to handle shapes, allowing easier-to-control animation, performing superior rendering, etc. However, generally speaking, some of the most simple 3D software for learning are Cura, PrusaSlicer, Meshlab, Autodesk AutoCAD, etc.

Is 3D printing software easy to use?

It takes work and practice. As a result, making the most of the software by knowing its full capability should be your first focus. In addition, after a few youtube tutorials and seeing in person how 3D software actually works, you will eventually get the hang of it.

How to make 3D models?

As a beginner, you can start with open-source 3D modelling software like Sketchup, MeshLab, SolidWorks, and many more. They allow you to learn the basics without spending a fortune. Start with simple objects like cubes, spheres, and pyramids to get a feel for the basics. In addition, make sure you understand and know all of your software’s functions and make sure that your 3D files are printable in the end.