These free 3D modeling software options can be just as potent as you need them to be.
In the digital age, where creative options abound, 3D modeling captures the imagination of many.
It is no small feat to be able to design and render 3D objects as one imagines them.
It is no fruitless aspiration either; there are many uses for this craft.
From using such objects for 3D printing to videogame development, and from a personal creative quest to a professional asset, reasons to take it up are plentiful.
However, as powerful as ever-evolving 3D modeling software can be, it is often either prohibitively expensive or not beginner-friendly – or both. Luckily, free 3D modeling software options exist and are far more viable than one might assume.
Indeed, all of the entries on the following list are both powerful and free.
Many are also very beginner-friendly, so they will not discourage aspiring creators.
In no particular order, then, let us explore the best 3D modeling software options out there.
SketchUp is among the most famous entries on this list.
First created in 2000, it has come a long way since then – and many consider it the easiest and most flexible 3D app out there today.
SketchUp comes in many versions, from Free to Premium and Studio. While the Free version naturally comes with fewer features, it is still a very powerful tool on its own.
It is a browser-based software that can be used by simply creating an account on its website.
It offers a core 3D modeler, a vast library of user-generated models, and 10GB of cloud storage.
Fortunately, it has an easy learning curve as well as a very user-friendly interface.
Upgrading from the Free version does come with a modest price tag, but for many users the Free version will be more than enough.
As far as free 3D modeling software options go, SketchUp is a very easy one to recommend.
An equally potent tool, Meshmixer offers a heavier focus on 3D printing but can still have other applications.
Developed by Autodesk, Meshmixer is a completely free 3D modeling software that’s very beginner-friendly.
It offers an array of functions and options, including
- Model edits and repairs
- Sculpting tools
- Surface alignment tools
- Model analysis and optimization options
- A convert-to-solid feature for 3D printing
It should be evident, then, that it’s a powerful tool for beginners.
A slight learning curve may be present, as with most 3D modeling software, but in most cases, it won’t be noteworthy.
It may not be as feature-rich as other premium options in the market, but it does not lack any basic functionality that most users will need.
Best of all, as with all items on this list, it is completely free.
Another very famous option, Blender is regarded by many as the best free 3D modeling software.
While comparisons can be highly subjective, Blender does indeed come with a very alluring package.
Blender comes with a wide array of features, including 3D modeling, texturing, rigging and skinning, UV unwrapping, soft body and particle simulation, rendering, and more.
Better yet, it also comes with Cycles, a proprietary rendering engine. Thus, one should absolutely not underestimate its potency.
Both hobbyists and professionals use it, enough so that it found its way into Hollywood productions.
Whether you want to acquire 3D modeling skills or incorporate 3D into your website, Blender will suit your needs.
One may need some time to adjust to Blender’s unique interface, but its vast, engaged community is extremely supportive.
As far as free 3D modeling software goes, few options can compete with Blender in terms of power and versatility.
As the name immediately suggests, FreeCAD is completely free 3D modeling software.
Originally launched in 2002, it is a very powerful open-source option to consider – although it may take some effort to get used to it.
FreeCAD’s design tools allow users to create models, as well as modify them and revert to any point in their history if needed.
It also offers a Sketcher for 2D shapes and other tools, such as a Path module and robotic simulation.
Since it’s open-source, there’s a plethora of plugins, modules, and tools that can be mounted to the core application.Among the options on this list, FreeCAD may not be the easiest software for beginners to pick up.
However, mastering it can be very rewarding, and it being open-source only adds to its allure.
Another noteworthy entry to this list, 3DCrafter is also a free 3D software option to consider.
Unlike other entries, however, it trades power and versatility for accessibility and ease-of-use.
Formerly known as 3DCanvas, 3DCrafter was developed by Amabilis Software and released in 2017. It is a real-time 3D modeling tool with animation functionality, and it comes with Shape Building tools as well.
It allows the users to sculpt, deform, and paint 3D shapes with refreshing convenience.
3DCrafter utilizes an intuitive drag-and-drop approach to 3D modeling, which few others offer.
Technology websites that recommend it usually do so exactly because of this user-friendly interface.
On the whole, 3DCrafter doesn’t boast the raw modeling power, versatility, or complexity that other entries do.
However, it is by no means an incomplete or subpar option to consider.
If anything, its ease-of-use makes it a very appealing option for newcomers to 3D modeling.
A sculpting tool that is more focused on 3D printing, Leopoly is also a very user-friendly option.
While it is less generic and more focused, its capabilities earn it a spot among the best free 3D modeling software.
Leopoly was designed by zSpace for educational purposes, and is thus very easy to learn.
It provides a browser-based platform, equipped with a simple interface and modeling tools.
Given its purpose, a curriculum that guides users through the basics is available – making the learning curve minimal.
Outside of the basics, Leopoly comes with an integrated library of existing projects and multiple customizers.
Lastly, the company’s ShapeLab VR modeling tool accompanies the Leopoly Maker tool as a product configurator.
While it may not boast tremendous raw modeling power, Leopoly is ideal for beginners.
Free, highly accessible, and primed for 3D printing, it definitely deserves a spot on this list.
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