The list below includes a number of programs for 3D modeling and animation. Select programs have been installed at the Media Center, others are simply free or low-cost recommendations and may not be available on college computers.

Learn software through your free Swarthmore access to Linkedin Learning!

CAD

  • 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.  
  • Auto Desk Revit

    1. BIM—Building Information Modeling
  • Rhino 3D Design Available on Swarthmore Lab computers. One copy purchased by the Art department and is installed on the Media Center computers.  
  • Grasshopper is a visual rendering application by the same company that created Rhino. 
  • 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

  • ZBrush Core Mini 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.

    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

    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

Repair/Manipulation

  • netfabb Studio Basic - free cross-platform program to repair problems with STL files.  
  • 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.  

3D Model Repositories