10 Best Free 3D Printing Software

3D printing has taken the world by storm and one can marvel at this technological wonder that has come a long way to make the preparation of 3D models a reality. With the invention of 3D printers, 3D printing has spread far and wide impacting lives of different people and making the production of 3D models affordable unlike in the past. However, a printer alone is not just enough to make you achieve your goals. You will also need 3D printing software to make your work easier. Whether you are a professional or just a beginner, the following 10 best 3D printing software will create a huge difference when it comes to three-dimension printing.

Top Free 3D Printing Software

1. Cura

best-free-3d-printing-software

Cura – 3D Printing Software

If you are looking for 3D printing software that is a benchmark slicer for the Ultimaker 3D printers, Cura should be your ultimate choice. This free software is compatible with a good number of 3D printers on the market today. The software is fully open source and you can extend it through a plugin system.

Cura is easy to use the software, allowing you to control the most significant 3D print settings on a clear interface. Just choose the right configured settings (recommended mode or custom mode) and the software will guide you accordingly. Cura can also be used as a 3D printer host program to directly control your machine where the 3D printer will need to be connected to your PC for all that duration.

However, Cura can also be used in professional applications such as seamless CAD integration using Siemens NX and SolidWorks. Otherwise, you will find this software to be quite effective and accessible slicer for most of your 3D printing projects.

Overview

  • Software name: Cura
  • Function: Slicer and 3D printer host
  • Level: For beginner
  • Price: Free
  • System: Mac, Windows or Linux

2. MatterControl

MatterControl was recently upgraded to version 2.2 and is a 3D printing as well as CAD software for your PC. It comes with several features such as printer host functionality designed to allow you to directly control and monitor your printing project when connected through USB. Additionally, this software allows you to slice STLs in a bid to export the content to the SD card when doing offline printing.

The user interface is remarkably structured where the left side directs you to the file browser and geometric primitives as a way of enhancing your printing. Apart from that, there is a new feature with the ability to take and drag those geometric primitives into position right on the STL in readiness for printing.

MatterControl 2.0 has suitably advanced 3D print settings that are tailored towards configuring your print assignment. As such, this software program comes out as a comprehensive 3D printing tool for most of the printing processes ranging from support preparation all the way to slicing and control.

Overview

  • Software :MatterControl 2.0
  • Function: 3D printer host, design and slicer
  • Level: Beginner
  • Price: Free
  • System: Mac, Windows and Linux.

3. 3DPrinterOS

The 3DPrinterOS comes in handy as a beginner friendly and best free printing software program for both 3D printers and slicing. This software is a cloud-based 3D printing as well as 3D printer management tool for the newcomers in 3D printing.

Being a comprehensive suite that always encompasses the print job queuing, printer control, delegation and an application-based plugin system, 3DPrinterOS can assure you of quality printing on the beginner and professional levels basis.

Besides, this software allows for an STL analysis not to mention the plus in-cloud slicing and repair. In other words, this is a one-stop-shop known for taking an STL to the printed objects with barely your fingers being lifted.

Overview

  • Software: 3DPrinterOS
  • Function: STL repair, STL editor, 3D printer host and slicer
  • Level: Beginner
  • System: Ubuntu, Windows, Mac and Raspberry Pi

4. KISSlicer

When you think of the best free 3D printing software program for your upcoming 3D printing project, then KISSlicer should cross your mind right now. This software is designed primarily for 3D printer control and slicing.

However, don’t get confused with the software’s acronym (which is commonly referred to as Keep It Simple Slicer) when it comes to making your 3D printing quite enjoyable and fulfilling. This free 3D printing software is a pretty sophisticated printing tool that you cannot overlook when searching for the right program for your 3D printer.

In fact, many have always hailed the KISSlicer software as a worthy alternative to a number of 3D slicer software tools on the market while others have had complaints here and there about its confusing user interface. All in all, this software will serve you better especially the free version when printing with just one extruder. Should you feel like using a multi-head, then the best option for you is the paid pro version.

Overview

  • Software: KISSlicer
  • Function: Slicer
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Price: Free
  • System: Windows, Mac and Linux

5. Slic3r

Slic3r is one of the best free 3-dimensional printing software programs you can rely on. This software works as a perfect printing tool for 3D printer control and slicing with a reputation for adding the bleeding edge features not found anywhere else. As an open source slicer, Slic3r 3D software stands out among the rest with its ability to make 3D honeycomb infill and creating structurally unique and useful shapes throughout the interior of a 3D print.

In addition to that, Slic3r 3D printing software is actually in direct integration with the OctoPrint. This means, when your files are sliced on your desktop, they are likely to be uploaded directly to the OctoPrint 3D printing at the click of a button.

Overview

  • Software: Slic3r
  • Function: Slicer
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Price: Free
  • System: Windows, Linux and Mac

6. SliceCrafter

Just like a few other types of the best free 3D printing software, Slice Crafter software program is also designed for 3D printer control as well as slicing. This great software is the brain behind the creation of IceSL and in most cases, many users take it as a browser-based slicer.

As 3D printing software, SliceCrafter allows you to quickly and conveniently make a G-code in preparation for your 3D printing. This feat is achieved through the use of a vast majority of options that are afforded to your printer by IceSL itself.

Overview

  • Software: SliceCrafter
  • Function: Slicer
  • Level: Beginner and Intermediate
  • System: Browser
  • Price: Free

7. IceSL

IceSL 3D printing software is a remarkable program designed to take your 3D printing to the next level. In reality of things, this is not only mere 3D slicer software but it is also a 3D modelling tool. This program allows you to edit your 3D model directly using scripting in what experts call a Lua-based language. This activity takes place on the left side of the window on a given 3D printer. At a glance, it may look like a frightening prospect while in essence, it makes it possible for the nifty parametric 3D modelling. However, the centre window is used as a live view during the entire printing process.

On the right window, you can come across a wide range of slicing settings which are preconfigured for you if you are a beginner. The configuration of those settings is meant to make your task easy and quick while expanding out all the advanced settings for IceSL software.

One of the most notable aspects of using this software is its progressively variable settings. These settings enable you to specify the number of values for various printing settings specifically the layer heights as IceSL graduates the changes on its own. As a result, you will witness a smooth transition starting from dense moving towards the light infill and from fine all the way to course layer heights and so on.

Overview

  • Software: IceSL
  • Function: Slicer or design
  • Level: Intermediate
  • System: Windows or Linux

8. OctoPrint

OctoPrint comes in handy as purely web-based software for 3D printer host that lets you have full control over your 3D printing tasks and the printer itself. When you combine it with your Wi-Fi enable gadget such as Raspberry Pi (when it is hooked up to your 3D printer), you can just dial in to have full control of your printing apparatus remotely through OctoPrint website interface.

Most significantly, OctoPrint accepts G-Code from an array of 3D printer slicer software programs to incorporate the g Code Visualizer. This feature enables you to visualize G-code files prior to and during printing. On the other hand, you can as well slice STL files directly into OctoPrint itself as an all-in-one 3D print preparation package.

Given that OctoPrint as open source software complete with a thriving community around it, you can easily activate plugins to expand this software’s functionality in a bid to make it a robust solution for the printing purposes. Furthermore, this software comes out clearly as the best option for banishing your 3D printer from the PC in order to control it remotely.

Overview

  • Software: OctoPrint
  • Function: 3D printer host or slicer
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Price: Free
  • System: Mac, Linux, and Windows

9. Repetier-Host

Repetier-Host has been in business for quite a long time and it is always referred to as “the great-grandfather” of 3D printing software and the most preferred choice in the RepRap maker community. This free 3D printing software is open source that is capable of controlling 3D printing and slicing.

Repetier-Host is a 3D printing software that targets intermediate and advanced user spectrum because it is an all-in-one solution that provides multi-extruder support ( as high as 16 extruders), a large number of slicer support through plugins and great support for any FDM 3D printer you can come across.

Additionally, Repetier-Host offers remote access features using the Repetier Server to give you easy access and control over your 3D printer from any location via a browser on your desktop, smartphone or tablet.

Overview

  • Software: Repetier-Host
  • Function: 3D printer host or slice
  • Level: Intermediate, advanced
  • Price: Free
  • System: Windows, Linux or Mac.

10. AstroPrint

Apart from 3DPrinterOs software, AstroPrint is also a cloud-based 3D printing solution that lets you monitor and manage all your 3D printers with ease. Also, this software can manage your slicer settings, material profiles and printer profiles as well. With your free AstroPrint Cloud account, you can manage to store all crucial information that will help you in achieving a very successful print. Needless to say, these vital settings are accessible via your browser and AstroPrint mobile application.

One thing that makes AstroPrint unique is its built-in compatibility with MyMiniFactory and Thingiverse along with free 3D computer-aided-design (CAD) software such as 3D slash and Leopoly. Apart from that, there is a cloud slicing engine that enables you to slice 3D models right from your smartphone and eventually send them directly to your 3D printer wirelessly. However, this software requires you to pay for more advanced features although creating a free account can expose you to instant access to a couple of useful tools that will help you optimize and manage a 3D printing process.

Overview

  • Software: AstroPrint
  • Function: 3D printer host, slicer
  • Level: Beginner
  • Price: Free for the basic version
  • System: Browser

How to Pick the Right 3D Printing Software?

Before you settle for the right 3D printing software, you need to consider the following factors:

  1. Purpose: Quite a number of free 3D printing software are tailored towards different applications such as engineering designs or artistic/sculpting. Therefore, go for 3D printing software that suits your needs.
  2. Cost: Your budget is a very important determinant when it comes to choosing the right 3D printing software for yourself. Luckily, there is free software for both beginners and professionals alike. But if you want to make some advancement, you would definitely consider your budget before purchasing your intended software.
  3. Ease of use: Most of the free 3D printing software programs are easy to use and they come with their tutorials to help you get started without any technical issues.
  4. File conversation: When looking for the right 3D printing software, it is highly recommended that you settle for the one whose files are robust especially when saved. Most of the 3D printing software use STL file type to make your work worthwhile.
  5. Parametric versus explicit modelling: You should also consider these two approaches when choosing your 3D printing software. The parametric approach deals with engineering and architectural designs simply because the files contain more specific dimensions as well as relations and have a design history. On the other hand, the explicit approach is used by industrial designers and artists due to their flexibility. When choosing your perfect 3D printing software, it’s important to look critically into these two considerations before you make up your mind

Conclusion

3D printing software offers a better platform for learners to get started and for professionals to advance their skills. From the ten best 3D printing software programs highlighted above, you can easily choose the one which meets your needs. Don’t let your 3D printing dreams to become invalid when you can use these free programs to take your 3D printing to the next level.

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