Top 4 Free 3D Printing Software for 2022

There’s something to be said about seeing an idea or a design come to life.

No matter what kind of object you create as a 3D model, seeing it become a real, physical object that you can hold in your hand for the first time is an experience you won’t soon forget.

And while this used to feel like a concept for the future, it’s possible now with 3D printing software. These tools translate the idea of an object into data that a 3D printer interprets to create a real-life object.

Best of all? There are free 3D printing tools that are ideal for creators designing on a budget.

Best free 3D printing solutions

When it’s time to take a 3D object made with 3D modeling software and translate it over to a 3D printer, these tools make it possible. Software for 3D printing is sometimes called “slicer software” because they take a digital 3D model and break it into sections, allowing the 3D printer to create it slice by slice.

The list below contains real user reviews from the best free 3D printing page. It’s important to note that in the context of this list, vendors that offer a free trial are also considered to be free. To be included in this category, a solution must:

  • Convert 3D models and turn them into printable instructions for 3D printers
  • Edit and repair Wavefront OBJect (OBJ), 3MF (3D manufacturing format), and Standard Tessellation Language (STL) files

* This data was pulled from G2 on April 11, 2022. Some reviews may have been edited for clarity. 

1. Fusion 360

Fusion 360 bundles design, engineering, electronics, and manufacturing into a single software platform. It’s a cloud-based 3D modeling, 3D printing, computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) , and computer-aided engineering (CAE) software platform made for product designers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and machinists.

Fusion 360 offers numerous pricing bundles, plus a free option for personal, hobby use. For professionals, there’s a ​​30-day free trial to access all features and capabilities.

What users like:

“Being able to create assemblies in context and make as many built joints after the fact is something I couldn’t live without anymore. I also love being able to create several different parts simultaneously while seeing their relationship to each other, which is very helpful.”

Fusion 360 Review, Anthony W.

What users dislike:

“Lack of more customizable and intuitive shortcuts to easily access most used tools. I find the right-click shortcut to tools impractical.”

Fusion 360 Review, David D.

2. Onshape

Onshape is a cloud-native solution that encompasses CAD, data management, and analytics in one platform. With Onshape, designers and engineers can access design documents and create and collaborate from anywhere on any device. The free version of Onshape is available for hobbyists, creators, and others willing to freely share their designs and projects. Also available is a 14-day free trial.

What users like:

“The CAD tools and features are great for me as a graduate and now a 3D printing hobbyist. Its interface is simple and easy to use, especially beneficial if you’re used to another CAD program. Being cloud-based and having the freedom to work from anywhere is also a huge bonus.”

Onshape Review, Alanna P.

What users dislike:

“Some commands are a bit tricky to look for, but you can YouTube it as Onshape has a reasonably good tutorial resource. Also, access to files offline can be tricky and if your Internet is down you cannot use this tool.“

Onshape Review, Jonathan Y.

3. Solid Edge

Solid Edge provides a portfolio of easy to deploy and maintain features for the product development process, including 3D printing. It gives users support for end-to-end workflow, from design for 3D printing techniques to preparation and output to hardware and services with color printing capability.

Plus, there’s a 30-day free trial so users can test out fast, flexible design changes, powerful assembly management, and effortless use of multi-CAD data.

What users like:

“The UI of Solid Edge is among the top in the construction business. Solid Edge may be used for 2D and 3D sketching and 3D printing, modeling, and simulations. One of my favorite aspects is its organized design technique, which really is origin-based. Solid Edge can also convert 3D designs to draft files. This also includes a digital archive of engineered parts.”

Solid Edge Review, Lauren J. 

What users dislike:

“In a synchronous environment, the program may run unstable and unpredictable. It can be frustrating.”

Solid Edge Review, Silvio S. 

4. NX

NX by Siemens is a flexible and powerful integrated product design solution that helps users deliver better products faster and more efficiently. It supports every aspect of product development, including 3D printing, with a variety of features and functionality. In regards to packages, there’s an NX Student Edition for free, plus a 30-day free trial for users who aren’t students.

What users like:

“I really like how capable NX is when it comes to handling large files. When working with assemblies, the size of the file that can be worked in is not limited by the program, but the power of the computer. In many other programs, when a large file with a lot of features is opened, the program will crash, unlike NX. Almost anything you can think of can be done in NX if you take the time to learn how.”

NX Review, Troy F.

What users dislike:

“Surface modeling is a little bit complex when compared to other modeling software.”

NX Review, Saravanan A.

Printing on a budget!

Now that you know what’s out there, it’s time to bring your 3D model to life with one of these free 3D printing design software. No matter your skill level or what you’re looking to design, 3D printing makes it possible — on a budget! 

Before you can master 3D printing and take advantage of these free tools, learn more about the different types of 3D modeling and how they work.

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