Are you looking for a free 3D CAD program? Here is our selection of the best freely available 3D CAD software / 3D CAD freeware in 2020.
3D CAD programs have become an integral part of the everyday work routine of architects, engineers and graphic designers. Newly emerging industries such as 3D animation and game development rely entirely on such tools. Fortunately, there are enough open source projects and companies that make 3D CAD programs available to the general public.
The selection of free 3D CAD programs is now so large that it is difficult to keep an overview. One wonders which program is particularly suitable for your own project and which one can be mastered quickly even with little previous knowledge. You can get a first overview with the following table.
3D Slash is a 3D modeling software based on a principle similar to Minecraft. Here too, you work with individual building blocks. The blocks can be edited, put together, and separated. There are a number of tools available that are also known from the real world: hammer, spatula, chisel, and drill. In 3D CAD programs, one is more likely to deal with abstract “tools” such as vectors or splines. The 3D Slash approach is a refreshing approach for beginners.
You can quickly celebrate success with this 3D CAD program and also create printable mesh models. But this program is also a win for professionals and certainly a nice change. All drafts made with this 3D CAD program can also be sent to a 3D printing service and printed out from the desktop or online application.
3DSlash may have a simple design, but don't let that fool you: the development team is constantly updating and improving the software. Google Drive and new export formats such as gItf - which enable 3D content to be posted on Facebook - and file formats for 3D animations such as FBX and Collada are now supported.
3DSlash also offers additional services that are subject to charges. With them, you have access to an expanded range of functions with higher resolution, a wider range of colors, and project management tools.
With 3D Slash, you can upload already prepared STL files and give them a cool pixelated finish or edit them with just a few clicks.
FractalLab is a program based on WebGL (a web graphics library). You can indulge in fractal 3D modeling here. You can choose between different fractals. The idea behind it is this: You set different conditions that determine the fractals. Such conditions are, for example, size, level of detail or edge sharpness. The software also offers options that can be used to influence texturing, camera work or shadowing. This free 3D CAD program has extensive functions. You can influence both the object and the scene design.
To create new fractals, however, you need a profound knowledge of the mathematics behind it. Even without knowledge you can access the pre-made fractals in the database and adjust them according to your own wishes.
With this software, you can create amazing illustrations down to the smallest detail.
SculptGL is ideal if you want to get a taste of 3D modeling. This software is also based on WebGL and works without problems on most current browsers. Even if this free 3D CAD program only contains the basic tools that are used to simulate real sculpture, it can be used to create impressive results. If you have activated the symmetry function, you will save a lot of time because you can use it to ensure that body parts that are supposed to be the same are designed the same.
Although SculptrisGL is free, it has a lot on offer. If you use the dynamic topology converters, you can subdivide a 3D model and design finer details. As a rule of thumb, it can be said that you should also work from the rough to the detail here. Sometimes it makes sense to import an output grid to save time. You don't have to register for this software.
SculptGL is particularly useful for creating realistic looking 3D characters that will later be used for 3D animation and game development.
TinkerCAD understands to offer an easy entry into CAD without the first design attempts having to suffer. You can start with a number of “primitives” - predefined shapes - that you can drag into your design area. The size and position of the objects can be adjusted by so-called “drag handles” (ie handles) or by entering text. You can also add and remove shapes using Boolean operators to design larger and more complex objects.
With the help of the sophisticated shape generators, complex designs can be produced with little effort and the properties of many components, such as Gears or stairs are represented by macros. However, since you don't have to worry about the subtleties, such as Boolean operations, TinkerCad is also particularly suitable for beginners.
In addition, TinkerCad has recently been able to design objects using code blocks. This allows you to create technically parametric models and it is no longer just a question of how well someone can use the mouse and keyboard.
Wings 3D is software that a community of users developed as part of a project launched in 2001. Here the balance between professional functions and an accessible user interface is right. For example, you will only see options for the object that you have actually selected. The approach here is extremely intuitive.
Wings 3D has other aces up its sleeve. One of these is the possibility of subdivision. Another asset of this software is the AutoUV feature, with which you can export an image of your design into an image editing program. There you can texture the image and change the surface. Similar to Sculptris, you can also practice 3D modeling here.
Wings 3D is a software for all cases, with which one can 3D model, animate, and print.
Clara.io is a free 3D animation program that runs through the browser. The software offers basic modeling techniques such as extrusion, beveling, slicing, cutting, and looping. In fact, the 3D animation programs and rendering tools are very well designed for an online program. The render is provided by V-Ray. V-Ray is also used in other, high-priced 3D programs.
With this free software, you can also embed your 3D models and animations on websites. This function allows users of the website in which the 3D models are embedded to change the predefined properties of the 3D models such as size and thickness. The free version has 5GB of cloud storage. Of course, the paid version has more storage space, unlimited rendering time, and unlimited scene design. Clara.io is based on a freemium model and therefore has an attractive and free version ready. Additional options can be activated for a small surcharge.
Since this software is cloud-based, you can also work wonderfully in teams with it. Since basic keyframe animation is also possible, you can even create animated films with it.
Daz3D combines those tools of the 3D CAD programs that are mainly aimed at artists and hobbyists who want to render still images and models of their characters. To make it easier for new users to get started, Daz3D offers an impressive selection of ready-made models that can be used as a basis. They are included in the free version of Daz Studio. The models can be arranged and animated to your heart's content. You can then record the scenes created in this way. More premium models can be found on the lively online exchange and imported into your design.
Daz3D also offers a second free software called Hexagon. This allows designs to be designed from scratch and existing models to be adapted as required. In addition to a simple and clear user interface, Hexagon also boasts a variety of tools with which you can add the finishing touches to the structure, size and length of limbs.
When you have finished a model in Hexagon, you can import it back into Daz Studio and give it clothing and style. You can edit complex scenes by using objects from the large library. In addition, Daz Studio has a large collection of props from a wide range of genres, with which scenes can be designed in a variety of ways.
In addition, Daz3D is packed with functions for 3D animation. For example, you can edit motion capture data so that it meets your requirements. With the Puppeteer (Puppeteer) tool, you can represent positions as nodes on a grid. If you move the mouse from one node to the other, your figure executes the movement sequence determined by the positions. You can also set the different poses in the timeline, the software then ensures the correct transitions. 3D animation has never been easier.
The great thing is that this 3D animation software is also free. It is also good to know that Daz3D operates a “3D Content Marketplace” where you can buy and sell new models, movements (poses), and objects.
Daz3D is an outstanding tool for creating realistic 3D models of characters. The embedded 3D animation features help you get your characters into the right pose when it comes to designing still images. However, you can also use it to animate complex animated films.
If you think Minecraft is good, but 3D modeling is even better, MagicaVoxel is the place for you. In this 3D CAD program, tiny blocks (voxels) are layered on top of each other and small pixelated 3D models are obtained. At first, it sounds like the software is a copy of 3D Slash, but it offers far more tools for editing your model than 3D Slash. Users can enjoy a wide range of color options (predefined and even mixed). The actual modeling works with a wide range of 3D brushes and shapes. Another difference is the renderer, which also has professional effects such as HDR-capable materials up its sleeve.
However, it takes a while to familiarize yourself with the unconventional tools in MagicaVoxel. With this free 3D CAD program, you can choose between processing methods that either only affects the surface of your model, only it's interior or a specific layer. If you are familiar with this free program, you can work with it almost as quickly as with “normal” 3D design software. The advantage of MagicaVoxel is that you don't have to piece designs together voxel by voxel, but you can sketch them quickly and efficiently.
The models that you can create with MagicaVoxel are ideal for games or for graphic design and 3D animation projects that tolerate or require a few pixels.
What can this 3D CAD program do? MakeHuman is a free character animation tool that started as a Blender plugin. Users can use this program to create realistic 3D models of people by using sliders to vary parameters such as age, gender, and weight. Given these rather rough parameters, fine adjustments can be made down to the smallest detail of the face shape and the length of the limbs. More specifically, with this 3D CAD software, you can design your characters to the last detail.
In addition to creating characters, this software also offers a rigging function that makes it easy for you to prepare your characters for 3D animation. Alternatively, you can get your character up and running with pre-made motion capture data.
3D models designed with MakeHuman serve as good starting points for refining them in 3D modeling software such as Sculptris. The 3D models from MakeHuman find another application in game development and 3D animated films.
Sculptris is a 3D modeling software that can be downloaded free of charge from the software developer Pixologic. The company is also behind the paid software ZBrush. Like other programs, Sculptris also uses the approach of processing a basic grid with a brush palette. You can also use this software to simply paint free textures directly onto your grid.
It is not difficult to learn how to use the basic functions of Sculptris. However, you shouldn't try to create a high-resolution model right from the start. Better start by defining a character's silhouette, i.e. Design arms, head, limbs with very rough tools. Then you can switch to finer tools to add more details to your model step by step. Again, you should work your way from large to small, so first design medium-sized sections such as muscle parts and fingers. Finally, you can do the fine work and draw folds or scars. You shouldn't overdo it though.
Sculptris is the right software to create realistic looking 3D characters that can be used in 3D animation or video games.
Vectary is an online 3D CAD program that lets you create, edit, and share 3D designs. Vectary is a combination of normal grid modeling, subdivision surface modeling and parametric modeling. The software was developed from scratch to make it as easy as possible for beginners. However, it is also useful for professionals.
A big plus: this application is browser-based, which means that you don't have to download or install it. As an introduction, you will be shown a small tutorial, and then you can start modeling. The user interface is kept simple and self-explanatory. In addition, you can always switch between a polygon surface and a smooth surface when modeling. The models are automatically saved in the cloud, and you can also share them with friends or colleagues. Vectary's Cloud also buzzes around with thousands of existing 3D models that you can customize as you wish.
The free software gives you access to the complete design pool and up to three personal projects. You can also embed their 3D models for free and add them to your blog, website, or customer presentations. To export projects, however, you need the premium version for $ 9 / month or the free version for students and teachers.
What can I do with this free 3D CAD program? Vectary is a great software that can be used to quickly create complex 3D models.
FreeCAD is open-source software that can be ideally adapted to your own user behavior. FreeCAD is based on parametric modeling. Parametric means that you have to determine the parameters and conditions that define your design. You can view and adjust these parameters in history.
The main target group of FreeCAD is the CAD community. So if you already know how other CAD programs work, you will quickly get warm with FreeCAD. Anyone who is just getting into CAD modeling should be prepared for the fact that FreeCAD can be overwhelming at first. But if you don't get scared at first, the persistence really pays off in the end. It is a 3D CAD freeware with a modular structure, which allows you to add plugins to the core application. A robot simulator can be used to simulate robot movements.
Given the endless possibilities, FreeCAD is suitable for many areas of application. You can output, view, and edit G-Code with FreeCAD. With this software, you get everything from one source.
Blender is a professional program that is still free. It is open-source and actually covers everything you need in 3D design. The functions for 3D modeling form the core of the software. However, some functions have been specially developed for specific areas of application. Blender can be used as 3D modeling software that can be compared to other professional programs like Sculptris and Mudbox.
However, it is also great for visual effects. A camera movement tracker is already integrated into Blender. So you don't need your own program. All you have to do is upload your raw footage and follow the movements either automatically or manually. Thanks to the Python programming interface, you can also adapt this function to your needs. However, Blender is not a beginner's 3D CAD program. If you get involved, don't be put off by the steep learning curve. If you're overwhelmed by Blender, give Bforartists a try. It is a variation of Blender that wants to make the more complex program accessible to beginners.
Blender is suitable for so many things. It is currently used, among other things, for 3D animation of films, series, and games.
Autodesk Fusion 360 concentrates on the various stages that a product has to go through in its design process in one software. The modeling options are broad. You can freely design as well as fall back on solid modeling and parametric modeling. The simulation function is of particular interest to engineers. Fusion 360 offers functions such as assembly modeling and structural analysis. The options offered here to produce your components using CNC and 3D printing make this software an all-rounder in the field of CAD programs.
With this software, you also have the option of working on a project as a team and having a history of older versions of a file always at hand. Autodesk Fusion 360 is available as a free trial for one year. Students and lecturers can get a free 3-year license.
Autodesk Fusion 360 is an excellent choice for component design and for working in large teams. The built-in options for the later production of the designed parts make this CAD program so interesting for prototype construction.