Useful Software Packages

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This is the place to put details of software packages that are useful for RepRap (like CAD programs), but that are not part of the RepRap project itself. Give a paragraph or so of explanation on each package and a link to its home page. Please also say what platforms it runs on, what licence it is distributed under, and whether it is free.

2D and 3D CAD software

Open-source software


Open Asset Import Library (short name: Assimp) is a portable Open Source library to import various well-known 3D model formats in a uniform manner. The most recent version also knows how to export 3d files and is therefore suitable as general-purpose 3D model converter. See the feature list. (The asset viewer application is 'Windows only' I'm afraid.)

Art of Illusion

AoI is a graphics-oriented 3D modeler that's written entirely in Java. can be used to output STL files. or add Skeinforge to output GCode.

Although it is a 3D graphics design tool, it is also good for engineering design. It has a very easy and quick-to-learn user interface. AoI runs on Linux, Windows or Mac, and is freely available under the GPL.

AoI, for all its shortcomings, is probably the most used 3D modeling package in the RepRap community, primarily because of its very short learning curve. V2.7 experiences problems with booleans, and 2.6 is currently recommended - particularly with the CSG Evaluator plugin.

There is also a page on Reprap-specific plugins for AoI.

Art of Illusion


Blender was originally intended for the same applications as AoI. It has a very 'efficient' user interface, which includes a number of single-key keyboard commands. This is a very powerful and fast way of working, but can intimidate would-be users. (Don't be scared, blender is fun!) It may be arguably more powerful than AoI, and has a huge user community. Blender is scriptable in Python, runs on Linux, Windows or Mac, and is freely available under the GPL.


Also See:


BlenderCAD is a pre-alpha attempt to build CAD functionality into Blender.


BRL-CAD is a cross-platform open source solid modeling system that includes interactive geometry editing, high-performance ray-tracing for rendering and geometric analysis, image and signal-processing tools, a system performance analysis benchmark suite, libraries for robust geometric representation, with more than 20 years of active development. BRL-CAD runs on BSD, Irix, Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, and Windows. BRL-CAD became an open source project in 2004, with portions licensed under the LGPL and BSD licenses.



FreeCAD is intended to be a full 3D mechanical engineering CAD package. It is still under development, but already usable. FreeCAD is based on OpenCasCade, QT and Python, runs on Linux, MacOSX and Windows, and is freely available under the GPL and LGPL. It is aimed directly at mechanical engineering and product design but also fits in a wider range of uses around engineering, such as architecture or other engineering specialties and is oriented more toward technical drawings than freehand sketching--for example, you move objects by editing their XYZ coordinates.

However, it has a much friendlier learning curve than say, OpenSCAD for those who are unfamiliar with programming. It can also open some OpenSCAD models (OpenSCAD needs to be installed). Being Free as Freedom, it is more suitable to use than proprietary software as Sketchup. There is a dedicated wiki page where the community shares various -> FreeCAD resources on tutorials, tips, cheats, any workarounds and so forth.

FreeCAD Official Website


HeeksCAD, like FreeCAD, is based on OpenCasCade, and has similar modeling functionality, with neutral IGES, STEP and STL file format exchange. It's much less dependent on parametric editing than FreeCAD and the GUI is more integrated, not modular. Its development has slowed down, and Windows installers have not been updated since 2011. The software needs to be compiled from source for Linux systems. Distributed under BSD license.


Inkscape is an Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X. It uses the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format. Inkscape is released under GPL Version 2.

There is a plugin for Inkscape which allows generation of gcode from a path. You may need to add nodes and then straighten all line segments before gcoding the path (then perhaps edit output files) to them work, as currently (Mar 2012) Sprinter won't interpret curves correctly, and some of the GCodes seem to make it freeze.



Another simple 3D modeler with no STL support.



LibreCAD is an application for computer aided drafting in two dimensions (2D). It is a fork of QCAD. you can create technical drawings such as plans for buildings, interiors, mechanical parts or schemas and diagrams. LibreCAD works on Windows, Mac OS X and many Linux and Unix Systems. The source code is released under the GPL.



OpenSCAD is a scripted modeller which produces CSG (Constructive Solid Geometry) and 2D outlines. It is free software and available for Linux/UNIX, MS Windows and Apples Mac OS X. It supports DFX, STL and OFF file formats and is designed for the engineer not the artist. Can be used from the command line to generate bespoke STL objects. e.g. > openscad -m make -s gears_helical.stl -D teethNum=15 gears_helical.scad


Built on top of pythonOCC, OpenCascade, numpy and scipy, pyGear serves as an CAE/CAD-preprocessor generator of involute gears.


A python wrapper for the OpenCascade and Salome (salome-geometry and salome-mesh) libraries. Supports constructive solid geometry, data exchange, meshing, GUI development (wxPython, PyQt, python-xlib), parametric modeling. FEM solver integration with (Code Aster) is underway. (Not a GUI based CAD program, but aims to be a scripting framework for rapid development of custom CAE solutions.)



QCAD is an application for computer aided drafting in two dimensions (2D). With QCAD you can create technical drawings such as plans for buildings, interiors, mechanical parts or schemas and diagrams. QCAD works on Windows, Mac OS X and many Linux and Unix Systems. The source code of the free QCAD community edition is released under the GPL.



"Parametric, Open-Source 3D Modeling in your browser". Benjamin Nortier has released Shapesmith under the Apache License on Github. (Erlang, JavaScript).


SolveSpace is a parametric 3d CAD program.

Release 2.0 is now available under the GPL and offers:

  • modeling 3d parts — draw with extrudes, revolves, and Boolean (union / difference) operations
  • modeling 2d parts — draw the part as a single section, and export DXF, PDF, SVG; use 3d assembly to verify fit
  • preparing CAM data — export 2d vector art for a waterjet machine or laser cutter; or generate STEP or STL, for import into third-party CAM software
  • mechanism design — use the constraint solver to simulate planar or spatial linkages, with pin, ball, or slide joints
  • plane and solid geometry — replace hand-solved trigonometry and spreadsheets with a live dimensioned drawing


Wings3D is a free and open source 3D modeller (Wikipedia: subdivision modeller). Designs can be exported as STL and STL files can be imported. Wings3d can be extended using available plugins, and you can write your own plugins in Erlang. (The #KiCad 3D view uses Wings3D)

Unknown licence


Brasilian 3D package. Apparently became orphanware in 2007.



Many of the programs on this page generate files in SVG or DXF or Gerber format. Builders/Replath imports files in those formats and produces standard G-code files and standard SVG files (and a few other formats).

Closed source

Autodesk 123D Beta

Clean, Simple

Autodesk Inventor (Student Version)

Students can download the professional version of Autodesk Inventor 2010, 2011 or 2012 after registration on the Autodesk website (link below). It is a powerful tool for creating 3D CAD models. It can import and export the industrial standard CAD files like STEP or IGES and export STL files.


Autodesk Inventor Fusion

3D (non-parametric) modeling application is simple to learn and use. You can download a free widows version at Autodesk Labs and is good until June 1, 2011. A Mac native preview has been unveiled and is planned to be available early 2012. More information on Facebook. This software includes solid and surface modeling along with translators and exporters for many profesional cad tools.


AutoQ3D Animation is an affordable and easy 3D CAD with animation capabilities. It is suitable for anyone interested in learning 3D CAD and Animation before using more sophisticated packages. It runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android.



CATIA is a massively insanely expensive software package that is used by aerospace and automobile manufacturers. Licenses can be in the tens of thousands of dollars depending on what features you buy. It is made by Dessault Systèmes, the same company that makes SolidWorks and the free 2D Draft Sight CAD software.



Cheetah3D is a powerful 3D modeling, rendering and animation software for Mac OS X. It offers native support for importing and exporting STL files (ASCII and Binary).



CoCreate Modeling Personal Edition is free for non-professional use. It is limited to 60 parts in one design and can only save designs in its own proprietary format, but it can export STL and VRML and import STEP and IGES. It is Windows only and needs an internet connection every three days. Apparently, very easy to use. {content abstracted from Hydraraptor}


DesignSpark Mechanical

DesignSpark Mechanical is a free 3D design software. A derivative of the Spaceclaim software, it is provided free by RS components.


iTracer is a 3D modeling and rendering application for the iPhone. There are instructions for creating models for 3D printing using it on Instructables here. It costs $2.


Moldex3D eDesign

Moldex3D is the world leading CAE product for the plastic injection molding industry. With the best-in-class analysis technology, Moldex3D can help you carry out in-depth simulation of the widest range of injection molding processes and to optimize product designs and manufacturability. In addition, its high compatibility and adaptability have provided users with instant connection to mainstream CAD systems, generating a flexible simulation-driven design platform.

Moldex3D eDesign

Moment of Inspiration (MoI 3D)

3D modeling for designers and artists. NURBS-based CAD modeling tool with excelllent quality mesh export. Costs $295 for the full license, free to try for a month. MoI 3D

NX Unigraphix (a.k.a U-G)

This, along with Catia is the other major player in proprietary CAD software. It is crazy expensive just like Catia and used by major manufacturers.

Unigraphics NX


Rhino is an easy 3D CAD with strong modeling capabilities. It is the most used software in entire micro-verticals such as architecture and jewelry.

Rhino 3D


Sketchup is primarily intended for designing architectural models, but it can be used for general 3D design as well.


SketchUp Make 2013 now includes an Extension Warehouse, and you can install the import / export STL extension from there. The link is here, or search for it in SketchUp Make

(deprecated) For details of plugins that will output STL files from Sketchup: see here

and here

and here a FREE one

Also See:


SolidWorks is one of the most popular closed-source CAD programs. The parts on the Prusa Mendel were designed using this software. It is owned by Dessault Systems which also makes Catia. An educational version of Solidworks is available for about 200 bucks I believe.


Tinkercad - a simple but effective online modelling tool. Useful for quickly creating prototypes. Specifically designed for 3D printers like RepRap.

Software for dealing with STL files

Open-source software


An open source, portable, and extensible system for the processing and editing of unstructured 3D triangular meshes. It also has an as yet unexploited object slicing routine which is extremely quick.



Converts STL files to Gcodes. Is included with ReplicatorG. Horribly ugly user interface. It looks like someone used a shotgun loaded with buttons. Works slow, but has many options and is reliable


Converts STL files to Gcodes. 100 times faster than skeinforge, but still great gcode output. relatively new. see: Slic3r and


Repsnapper is a Slicer completely written in C++. With 3D preview.


Cura, Slicer and GCode sender in one. Tries to be a single solution software where different parts can be used without depending on the other.


A ruby script that converts STL files between ASCII and binary encoding.


IVCON is a command-line C++ program for 3D graphics file conversion which reads and writes a variety of 3D graphics file formats, including STL, converting from one to the other.

Creation Workshop

Creation Workshop is slicer and DLP control software for (wet) liquid stereolithography and (dry) powder 3D printing.


netfabb Studio

A tool for repairing and manipulations of STL files.

netfabb Studio is free, but not open source. It now available for Windows, Mac and Linux. The free version of which can be found here: [1].

netfabb Studio is software tailored for additive fabrication, rapid prototyping and 3D printing. It includes the ability of viewing, editing, repairing and analyzing stl-files or slice-based files in various formats.

netfabb Studio


STL to G-code for additive extrusion printing.

Window, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD


Autodesk MeshMixer is a program that imports, manipulates, and converts 3D meshes. One of its more useful features is the "Analysis" tool, which shows areas of a mesh that could cause problems for 3D printing. It also provides a simple repair tool that fixes some of these problems. Be careful with the "Autorepair All" feature however, since it sometimes removes large portions of a part. It also has integration with the Autodesk 3D print utility to allow printing directly from the program (assuming a compatible printer).

MeshMixer is free to download and use, and it runs on Windows and OSX.

Software for sending G-code to the printer

See CAM Toolchains#RepRap Drivers.

CAD software for electronics

Open-source software


A full GPL'd suite and toolkit of Electronic Design Automation tools. These tools are used for electrical circuit design, schematic capture, simulation, prototyping, and production.

Compiles / runs on Linux and Mac Os X. Binaries available for Debian, SUSE, and Mac.

gEDA Wikipedia
See also: A typical work loop with gEDA.


main article: KiCad

KiCad is an open source (GPL) software for the creation of electronic schematic diagrams and printed circuit board artwork. Users are making complex boards with it, as boards of 4 layers or more, with ARM microcontrollers running at 450MHz.

KiCad runs on Linux, Windows or Mac. It is available on Linux Ubuntu repositories ("app store") meaning that it can be installed with one mouse click. (The KiCad 3D view uses #Wings3D).


An open-source (ODV) program for displaying Gerber files. Useful for checking.


Stripboard Designer 1.0

Open source (BSD) app written in freeware Visual Basic 2008 Express for Wintel machines

Stripboard Designer 1.0


Open source (GPL) version of Stripboard Designer written by Julian Skidmore in Java


DIY Layout Creator

DIYLC is an easy to use, yet powerful open source (GPL) multiplatform (Java) software for creating stripboard and universal board designs.




Proprietary circuit-diagram and PCB design system with a slightly reduced-capabilities freeware version. It includes an autorouter for PCB creation. This is the package that has been used to design the majority of the RepRap electronics. It is also used to design the open-source Arduino microcontroller, derivatives of which are used in RepRap. It runs on Linux, Windows or Mac.


Further reading

You can help: go through the "AoI Alternatives" thread and add at least a brief mention of packages mentioned there but not yet listed on this page: avoCADo, MLCad, CollabCAD, etc.