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  • SolidWorks – high-end Windows 3D CAD software.  SolidWorks is installed in some computer labs around campus (Hicks and the Media Center).  In addition, we have a limited number of licenses for students to install on their own computers.  Email to request a copy.
  • Sketchup - Cross platform.  Made by Trimble (formerly by Google).  The basic version is free and online only.  The Pro version is available free for educators and the lab versions are inexpensive (<$20 per seat).  
  • VectorWorks and TurboCAD are mid-range 3D CAD programs that have Mac and Windows versions.  ITS doesn't have licenses, but they are an option for higher-end Mac 3D CAD.  
  • AutoDesk has a set of free programs called 123D that are basic, but can do 3D.  Different versions of some of the programs are available for Mac, PC, iPad, and online.  We also have access to a wide range of AutoDesk software such as AutoCAD, Mudbox, 3ds Max.
  • Auto Desk Revit

    1. BIM—Building Information Modeling
  • 3DTin is a free, online 3D modeling program. 
  • Rhino 3D Design.  One copy purchased by the Art department and is installed on the Media Center computers.  Grasshopper is a visual programming application by the same company. 
  • AutoDesk Fusion 360

    1. Free for small companies > 100k and hobbyists
    2. CAM features
    3. Mac and Windows Compatible
    4. Basic Simulation software
    5. Good mesh modeling
    6. More intuitive  than programs like Solidworks
    7. Cloud based
    8. Import objects from McMaster Carr

Graphics, Animation, and Sculpting

  • Sculptris is a free sculpting software that can export an OBJ file for 3D printing.
  • Mudbox from AutoDesk - digital painting and sculpting software
  • Anarkik Cloud9 - for artists, includes haptic feedback device. ~$800
  • Maya-Alias System Corp owned by Auto Desk, works on Windows, Mac and Linux available on the Media Center computers.

    1. Used for Video game production, animation Visual effects and more
    2. Customizable
    3. Industry Standard for large studio production
    4. Good for scripting language, MEL, Python
    5. Good animation, rendering.
  • Blender-  Available on the Media Center computers

    1. Free
    2. Open source
    3. Works on Windows, Mac and Linux
    4. Used for Animation, video Games, Visual effects, etc
    5. Works on Mac, Windows, Linux
  • 3Ds Max-Same rendering engine as Maya

    1. Slightly easier for Modeling
    2. Also used for large scale production
    3. Only work with windows


  • netfabb Studio Basic - free cross-platform program to repair problems with STL files.  They also have a cloud service that let's you upload your STL file:  
  • MeshLab - open source cross-platform program "providing a set of tools for editing, cleaning, healing, inspecting, rendering and converting this kind of meshes."  Can convert OBJ files to STL files.
  • Smustard has Sketchup scripts to clean up models for printing
  • SketchUp: There is a plug-in required for creating stl files.  It is also possible to upload files to SketchUp's online 3D Warehouse and check a box to optimize the file for printability.  This will correct problems with the file that could affect 3D printing.  

Problems importing into Sculptris

Sculptris does not like meshes generated with lots of vertices coming together at a point.  If possible, export from the original program with a different type of mesh.  Meshlab can be used to re-mesh.  In one example, selecting Filters → Remeshing ...→ Surface Reconstruction: Poisson created a mesh that could be imported into Sculptris.  The old mesh can be selected and removed using the Filters → Mesh Layers options.

3D Model Repositories