Free 3D Design Tools for Additive Printing

by Jason King on February 6, 2013

Free 3D Design Tools3D printing, otherwise known as additive printing, is the latest norm in creative manufacturing and object creation. Do not be fooled into thinking that this form of printing is like that of a paper printer printing on paper.

Three dimensional printing is by far a more complex and innovative way of getting things designed and fabricated. This printing form is now being considered to replace the old way things are made and manufactured as it is more beneficial and functional with less waste and is thought that it will cut costs by huge amounts in the near future.

Additive printing is where objects are created through using a special machine called a 3D printer which renders a real life image of a 3D image. With three dimensional applications if you can draw it in three dimensions, you can print it. This image has to first be created as a model with all scales set before it can be printed out. This needs one to be skilled in rendering, or drawing in 3D. Three dimensional printing uses a method known as additive manufacturing. This is where instead of chopping off matter or material to come up with an object, layer upon layer of precisely aimed streams of manufacturing materials like metal or plastic are added on a flat plain until an image is produced to the precise measurements and set scale.

This form of printing is being considered as more precise and better to use as there is minimal waste. Therefore, you can now understand why additive printing is about to revolutionise the whole manufacturing industry. Many Businesses are Turning to 3D Printing to create their manufacturing cast or even to design and come up with new products. Just the other day a major jet engine manufacturing company turned to additive printing to create their engines. This shows just how useful and reliable this form of printing has become.

Today you can have your own personalised 3D image created as there are now even commercial 3D printers for home use or for the general public to use. The issue though is the cost of actually owning your own simple three dimensional creating machine. The cheapest options are around £2,000 making them a costly item to acquire. However, for much less, you can have a 3D object of your 3D model created by some of the commercial printers now available around your own town.

As mentioned earlier, the first thing needed for a 3D object to be created is a 3D model. The same will apply for commercial 3D printing. Therefore, before you consider going out to get a 3D object created, you need to have a three dimensional model rendered and ready for production. This will mean that you work at first creating that model before anything else. To do this, you need a good 3D design tool to create your model.

Well, most companies out there are using highly sophisticated programs that are quite hard to use for 3D newbies. However, there are currently some very good design tools available in the market that you can use to create simple 3D images for printing. The great thing is that there are even tools which will cost you nothing, though you will need to tutor yourself on how to draw in 3D using your computer. Some of these are based online, while others you will have to download before you can use them. All in all, finding out about some of the best free 3D design tools in the market is rather helpful to the ardent three dimensional printing fanatic that wants to try their hand at additive printing.

These are some of the best free 3D tools available. Though, you need to know your way around 3D drawing; if not, consider taking some basic classes, it can get tricky! Consider some of these tools; they have been tried, tested and used a lot:

Google’s Sketchup

Sketchup is a 3D model drawing software offered by the global search engine powerhouse Google for free to all users. This software is one of the best free 3D tools in the market and is quite powerful and functional for both commercial and more high scale sketching. It comes with extra and effective features for improved 3D sketching options.


This is a powerful 3D model drawing program that comes with high-end multi dimensional creation characteristics. It is created by trusted animation companies that are leaders in matters of 3D drawing making it a better and more precise software to use in creating more realistic models for printing.


For those more into mechanical engineering and architecture, FreeCAD is the 3D tool for you. This free and open source three dimensional software is designed to simplify the math and scaling for more precise measurements and models.


This is the fastest and latest way of coming up with 3D models for your additive printing. This software is simple yet powerful in its own way. It offers very few options but it can still be used to produce many different designs.


Want to come up with an image of your favourite animation or just an object or animated character from your imagination? K-3D is the perfect 3D tool that you can use to accomplish this. This powerful and flexible program is one of the best free three dimensional animation and modeling software in the market and features an engine that is procedurally plugin-oriented making it one of the best options to go for in 3D model creation; that is if you are really good at 3D creation and rendering.


3Dtin is one of the simplest 3D software tools available for your personal 3D modeling. With this simple 3D image creator you can come up with three dimensional models straight from your computer’s web browser.

When looking at some of these 3D tool options for your personal 3D imaging, you may need to consider one thing. Look for an effective and powerful tool that will offer you something that is quite high quality with more options to choose from. In most cases, to print your 3D model, you may need to have the three dimensional model saved in STL Format; for those models created online, you will have to download the file. If you want something great, you can always hire professional 3D Drawing and Printing Services; however, it would be great for you to try your hand at 3D drawing with either one of these free 3D design tools.

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