Which CAD software should I use with my Ultimaker 3D printer?

Which CAD software should I use with my Ultimaker 3D printer?

When 3D printing, you'll want to have your 3D models in either STL or OBJ file format. When you're ready to 3D print your design, you'll load your STL or OBJ file into Ultimaker Cura or the slicing software of your choice to prepare the print job.  

Just about any CAD software that exists these days can export in these formats, so you're free to use any CAD software you like. There are lots of options available, depending on the functionality you're looking for.  

Here are some options to get you started... 

Free CAD software: 
  • TinkerCAD: A free, easy-to-use browser-based CAD software. It's easy to use, so it's great for beginners and students. They have tools and resources for using TinkerCAD in the classroom.
  • SketchUp: Another free, easy-to-use browser-based CAD solution. Free and paid licenses available (free for primary/secondary students, educators, and personal use).
  • Blender: A powerful and popular free, open-source 3D modeling tool. It has a steep learning curve, but it's a powerful tool once mastered.
  • FreeCAD: A free, browser-based parametric modeler with advanced features.
  • OpenSCAD: A free CAD tool that uses a programming-style approach to 3D modeling. This is an intuitive option for coders/programmers, but will not be as easy to learn for most others.
  • BlocksCAD: A free CAD tool that uses a programming-style approach to 3D modeling, designed to prepare users for using OpenSCAD, a more professional programming-based 3D modeling tool.
  • Autodesk Fusion 360: Fusion 360 is a powerful, cloud-based 3D CAD program. Free for personal use, students, educators, and academic institutions.
  • Shapr3D: A full-featured CAD program designed specifically for the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Free and paid versions available. Free Pro version licenses available for students and educators.

Commercial CAD software: 
  • SolidWorks: A popular and powerful Windows-based CAD solution.
  • Rhino: A powerful CAD solution for Windows or Mac. Can be challenging to learn.
Mesh-editing Tools (not CAD software, but useful for making modifications to mesh models, i.e. STL files): 
  • MeshMixer: A free tool from Autodesk for editing mesh files (like STL files)
  • MeshLab: Another free mesh editing tool, especially good for fixing issues and optimizing STL files.

    • Related Articles

    • Networking Considerations for the Ultimaker 3, Ultimaker 3 Extended and Ultimaker S5

      The Ultimaker 3 series and Ultimaker S5 include wired and wireless networking capabilities. Your IT department may have questions about this from a security perspective. Here are some notes that may be useful: The Ultimaker 3 series and Ultimaker S5 ...
    • Which Ultimaker Print Cores Should I Use?

      With the introduction of the Ultimaker 3, Ultimaker has shifted away from swappable nozzles in favor of interchangeable print cores. There are different print cores available, depending on what you're looking to do. Generally speaking, the AA print ...
    • Which 3D Scanner is Recommended for My 3D Printer?

      Just about any 3D scanner can be used with any 3D printer. The reason for this is that all 3D scanners have the ability to export the final scans in the STL file format. This is the exact same file format as the standard used for 3D printing. Files ...
    • Which 3D printer should I get for making e-NABLE devices?

      Choosing the right 3D printer can be a difficult process. There are many options available, and a lot of it depends on your budget and preferences. Most 3D printers are capable of printing e-NABLE devices. I would recommend steering clear of “mini” ...
    • Dimensional Accuracy on the Ultimaker S5

      To improve the dimensional accuracy on the Ultimaker S5, you can change the following Cura settings: Set line width equal to nozzle diameter Equalize all speed settings (infill, outer wall, inner wall, etc.) to about 40 mm/s Set all jerk settings to ...