While 3D printing a model or product at home can be a simple process, creating your own models from scratch can have a slightly steeper learning curve. 3D software, like that used for movies, games and industrial design, is now capable of creating anything we can imagine and therefore can become incredibly complex the more you get into it. Thankfully, not all 3D software requires a masters degree in physics to understand, and with home 3D printers showing up on more and more people's radar, the race is on for the most user friendly 3D software!
Software for beginners.
It's not surprising that Autodesk, the makers of the world's most sophisticated 3D applications, are leading the way with the most intuitive software. They have created a collection of 5 FREE easy to use applications for 3D modeling, 3D sculpting and 3D capture.
3D scanning at its easiest! This great little app analyzes photographs taken from multiple angles to build a 3D ‘mesh' of an object, ready for 3D printing. For a detailed explanation of how Catch works and helpful tips, check out 3D scanning with 123D Catch.
The latest addition to the Autodesk 123D collection is Creature for iPad and in our opinion, this is the most fun to use! Creating your own little 3D monsters, complete with textured skin and 3D skeletons, to animate and print is simple, easy and extremely addictive!
Next up we have 123D Design. When it comes to 3D modeling, this app aims to “take complexity out of the equation” and we have to say it goes a long way towards doing just that. 123D Design is a great way to make 3D models of varying complexity easily and quickly. Sharing your projects between your devices through an internet connection is simple and completely free of charge.
Not just the standard 3D printing software that you might expect, 123D Make enables you to create a ‘sliced' version of a 3D model that you've either built yourself or loaded into the software. You can alter the amount of slices as well as the angle of them, allowing you to print out and assemble your uniquely sliced 3D model.
For now, the final app from Autodesk is 123D Sculpt. This is probably the easiest application to pick up right away because of the the method it uses to make 3D models. Rather than entering measurements and using geometry, 123D Sculpt emulates traditional clay modeling where you would start with a template or a ‘blob' and then push, pull and pinch, or ‘work the clay', into the shape you want. Simple to use and highly addictive!
For those of you who prefer a more ‘traditional' high-end piece of 3D software without the traditional high-end costs, Blender is a completely free ‘open source' software with a huge online community of users. This community, along with Blender's online tutorials, helps new users get a handle on what can be a highly sophisticated application.
Whichever software you choose will depend on what type of 3D models you want to create and how you're most comfortable working. Since all the software mentioned above is available for free, you can try them all out and explore which one works best for you.