Our Top Picks for the Best 3D Design Software on the Market

If you’re looking for a new 3D simulation program, this list will guide you through the best of the best.
In Collaboration WithSponsor Logo
Created: 9/25/2020

Interested in starting to learn 3D design and simulation? Or are you a seasoned professional looking for a new software?

Then here are some great examples of 3D design software for beginners and pros that will get your 3D project completed in no time at all.


What is the easiest 3D software to learn?

3D design, aka CAD, is all the rage at the moment, but for some, it may seem like a difficult thing to learn, especially if you are a complete novice. You might end up giving up before creating your first 3D designs and not giving yourself the time to master a particular program.

This is especially true if you are starting out in a career in engineering that requires 3D designing and simulation

Our Top Picks for the Best 3D Design Software on the Market

There are various 3D design programs on the market, but not all are easy to pick up. You don’t have to fear though! While having experience in CAD and 3D designing helps, there are some 3D designing programs that are widely considered as relatively easy to learn.

According to sources like 3Dnatives, some of the easiest 3D software to deal with include, but are not limited to: 

  • BlocksCAD
  • Creo
  • 3D Slash
  • TinkerCAD
  • FreeCAD
  • Solidworks
  • AutoCAD
  • Fusion 360
  • OpenSCAD
  • Rhino

Many of these are also great for engineers hoping to design and test new products. 

The above mentioned 3D software will help you design the 3D design of your choice very quickly. With your designs in hand, you can then use them to print your final piece on your FDM or SLA 3D printer at home. Please note, however, that not all of these programs include a slicer or repair tool, which is an essential piece of software kit for 3D printing. 

For this reason, you may need to find a third-party alternative to prepare your design for printing. 

How do I start 3D designing?

If you are interested in building amazing 3D designs on your own and are a complete novice, there are some tried-and-tested ways to quickly grasp the basics. While it will take dedication on your part, like learning anything new, you will soon increase your competence by following these steps.  

One of the first things you'll need to nurture in yourself is a passion for the field, and by extension, anything to do with computing. Without this, you might lose hope at the first sign of trouble. 

You will also need to develop an "eye" for 3D designing, an understanding of the process, and an appreciation for the way 3D objects look in space. Being a creative thinker also helps a great deal for training this perspective. 

Our Top Picks for the Best 3D Design Software on the Market
Source: Moody Man/Flickr

Another critical thing to bear in mind is to select a 3D software package and get started working on it as soon as you can. Tinker with it, experiment, and if you get stuck, check out some YouTube tutorials and online guides. 

Having a pet project, like a 3D design of your favorite Thunderbirds vehicle, will also help. With a specific goal in mind, you'll fast track your learning experience. 

Remember that the learning process is a marathon, not a race. Do not rush and start with simple objects first, like basic geometric shapes. You can then gradually increase the complexity of the designs you build until you can begin to create your own masterpiece.

Another consideration is that you have to take your time. Learning a new skill takes perseverance and patience. You will potentially make mistakes at the beginning, so be sure to embrace and learn from them. Regularly backing up designs in development also helps.

If you plan to 3D print your designs, make sure you also give your best to understand the abilities (and limitations) of your printer — like its build area. This will pay dividends in the long run. 

Another good piece of advice is to make use of supports for overhangs. If, for example, your design has some parts with greater than 45-degree angles, chances are you'll have to support it so as to not compromise the physical object's structural integrity. 

Our Top Picks for the Best 3D Design Software on the Market
Source: Ansys

For real-world applications, be sure to choose a 3D designing software that also doubles as a simulator to test the feasibility of the design.

Another thing to learn early is to ensure your 3D files are printable. While they may look great in digital space, the real world may soon scupper your plans for a killer 3D design. When you convert your CAD files into other formats like STL or OBJ, always double-check that there have not been any conversion errors. If there are, correct them prior to even considering to begin to print them. 

At the end of the day, 3D designing is a great hobby and can, if you are good enough, prove to be quite a lucrative career choice. Take your time learning it, enjoy the ride, and practice, practice, practice. 

It is also an essential component of many modern engineering projects

What is the best free 3D design software?

While we have included some great 3D designing software above, there are others that are widely considered the very best on the market. According to sources like format, some of the most capable programs include, but are not limited to:

  • Autodesk Maya
  • Autodesk Mudbox
  • Houdini
  • Cinema 4D
  • Modo
  • Autodesk 3Ds Max
  • ZBrush
  • Rhinoceros

Please note that some of these are more targeted at 3D artists than at engineers. However, they are all incredibly capable 3D designing programs.

If you have a need for a more engineering-oriented 3D designing/simulation program, then there is another one that we need to discuss — Ansys' Discovery

What is Ansys Discovery?

Discovery, according to Ansys, is "the first simulation-driven design tool to combine instant physics simulation, proven Ansys high-fidelity simulation and interactive geometry modeling in single user experience."

By employing Discovery early on in the product design process, you will see a noticeable gain in engineering productivity, spur innovation, and increase your product’s overall performance. The program allows you to answer important design questions once they appear, without waiting for days or weeks, which is generally the case when using more traditional 3D simulation methods. 

For example, Ansys Discovery enables you to: 

  • Prepare designs quickly for simulation or change designs.
  • Investigate and assess design variations in real-time with its interactive simulation functions.
  • Refine your designs in high-fidelity as well as exposing them to various additional conditions.

Such capability helps organizations not only improve their productivity but also helps improve the Return on Investment (ROI) of a project by:

  • Design engineer labor costs are reduced and there is less need to physically prototype.
  • Testing of any prepared physical prototypes is drastically reduced.
  • Impacts of engineering change orders are reduced and experimenting with design alternatives or concepts is much more efficient.

These are the reasons why choosing programs like Discovery will pay off significantly over the lifetime of a new product. For professionals (including engineers), Discovery will prove to be an invaluable tool. 

What makes Ansys' Discovery different from the others?

We've already covered some of the great highlights of Ansys’ Discovery above, but there are some other tangible benefits to it over similar products. According to Ansys, these include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased Engineering Productivity - More time to market and less product development costs.
  • Improved Product Quality - Better products built with less prototyping and more on-point designs at first try.
  • Spurred Innovation - Market-leading products created that distinguishes you from the competition in a larger design space.

So, if you are on the lookout for a new 3D design/simulation software, you can't really go wrong with Ansys Discovery. Check out its benefits today.

message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron