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What is the best software for 3D printing?

Different software packages can help you with each different stage of the design process, from CAD design to STL repair and preparation. In this section, we offer a list of the best 3D printing software to get you started.

Here is a list of CAD design software we recommend for designing parts for 3D printing:

  • Solidworks

Professional CAD software, used by more than 2 million engineers around the world. Ideal for: professionals. Platform: Windows. Price: Paid.

  • Rhinoceros

Multi-purpose, free-form surface modeler for engineering, architecture and jewelry design. Ideal for: Advanced / Professionals. Platform: Windows, Mac. Price: Paid.

  • Fusion 360

CAD design, testing and production in a single cloud-based collaboration tool. Ideal for: Advanced / Professionals. Platform: Windows, Mac. Price: Paid / Free (education version).

  • Onshape

Cloud-based collaboration tool for professional applications including parts, assembly and drawings. Ideal for: Professionals. Platform: Online. Price: Paid / Free.

  • TinkerCAD

Easy to use online app to get started with 3D modeling. Ideal for: Beginners. Platform: Online. Price: Free.

If you’re looking for the best tools to modify or repair your STL files before sending them to the printer, here’s a list of the best software available today:

  • Netfabb

Powerful additive manufacturing and design software for the most demanding applications. Ideal for: Professionals. Platform: Windows. Price: Paid / Free (education version).

  • Mesh mixer

The latest software to work directly in an STL file. It can clean, repair and adjust any mesh. Ideal for: Advanced users. Platform: Windows, Mac. Price: Free.

  • Cura

Easy-to-use slicing software with integrated FDM 3D printer profiles for improved reliability and productivity. Ideal for: Beginners, Advanced. Platform: Windows, Mac. Price: Free.

  • Simplify3D

Advanced 3D model preparation and slicing software with everything you need to work with your 3D printer. Ideal for: Advanced, professionals. Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux. Price: Paid.

Use 3D printing for branding your company or products

A good way to get noticed is to use leaflets. If you choose to use leaflets, you must have a strategy to be effective. Too many leaflets are annoying and are quickly marked as spam. When 3D printing leaflets (translation: folders drukken), you should look for a reliable 3D printing company. Reliable means that you should look at quality and delivery times. When it comes to leaflets, it is important that you have quality but also that you receive your order quickly.

Find a design online

If you’re new to designing (or you’re just looking for something to print quickly), you may already be able to find what you’re looking for in one of the many online archives.

Here are some websites we recommend:

  • Thingiverse → The largest online archive with thousands of free 3D printable files for desktop 3D printing suitable for tissue paper (translation in Dutch: vloeipapier).
  • MyMiniFactory → A popular online archive of free 3D models that are quality tested and guaranteed to be 3D printable.
  • Cults → An online marketplace featuring high-quality 3D print models from professional designers and curated collections associated with major brand names.

Pinshape → An online marketplace with both free and premium 3D printable files, mainly geared towards hobbyists.

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