3D printing has made a massive leap of development in the last few years and it is now available in consumer grade versions. This has opened a whole new avenue among entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts since creating a prototype can become cost efficient when using a 3D printer to fabricate new components.
But, buying a good 3D printer is only half a job. You also need a good software to model and sculpt. We had a look at what is available in the market and found the following to be the best applications.
A Modelling software helps you create models required for 3D printing.
Here are the best ones in the market.
3D Slash: Easy to use, Intuitive UI, free and beginner friendly
Tinker CAD: Beginner oriented online app, lots of free tutorials
FreeCAD: Free, opensource tool that can even design complex, real-life objects.
SketchUp: Good mix of usability and functionality and excellent for designing architectural projects.
A Slicer is a software that takes your 3D model and slices it into layers and then turns them into G code. It also conveys the right settings like the temperature, layer height, print speed via G-code which will be used by the printer to execute the print commands.
If you need a slicer or a printer host, check out the following vendors.
Repetier: open sourced, supports Slic3r, CuraEngine, and Skeinforge slicing engines, you can visualise the end result before starting the print operation.
Simplify3D: Premium tool, helps correct issues with CAD models, best suited for advanced users.
NetFabb: Available as a free trial, good for basic slicing, need to upgrade to the professional to get full features.
Slic3r: Fast, flexible, 3D preview available, and most widely used tool.
Since most of these tools are available as free or trial version, check out the options before you pay for a tool.