The STL file format
The STL file format is the standard input file format used by all our 3D printers. Most, if not all 3D CAD software packages can export directly to STL.
3D Modelling Libraries
Not every printable model has to be built from scratch. Several online libraries exist that contain thousands of free to use models on everything from cups to working models of engines!
Sites with thousands of dedicated 3D models (already in STL format) such as: http://www.thingiverse.com/
There are also several websites that contain highly detailed CAD models such as: http://grabcad.com/
These CAD websites however contain files in all types of formats and thus must be converted to STL using modelling software before printing.
3D Modelling Software
Free and Open source Software:
- TinkerCAD: The simplest and most basic of all 3D modelling software. Accessible directly from the browser.
- Blender CAD: Primarily more of a 3D sketching and modelling tool. Not recommended for precise engineering work. However, Blender CAD contains a few advanced modelling tools not available in other free software.
- Google Sketch-up: The most popular free to use CAD package, it is customisable via user made apps that can be installed free. The most advanced package listed
Professional 3D Modelling Software:
IronCad is a top tier package designed specifically for 3D printing. It remains easy to use yet contains all the nessesary features. The complete package features FEA and engineering drawing tools.
3D Slicing Software
There are several software packages that help interface the model with the 3D printer. With options such as sizing of the model, position on the print surface, the percentage fill of the model, the structure and quantity of support structures and many more!
A few free to use software packages for slicing are available on the internet. The major ones we recommend are:
A simple and easy to use software with limited options. Gets the job done.
Download link: https://www.makerbot.com/desktop
Far more complex than Makerware. With options to control nearly every build condition such as support structure, specific heating of build areas, simultaneous printing of different materials and many more
Download link: http://replicat.org/download
Mankati Printers come with their own software, optimised for use with the Mankati series of printers. The E180 uses its own software, mWare, while other Mankati printers use MankatiUM.
Download link: http://www.mankati.com/download/
The UP Series
The up series comes with its own software appropriate for use with any UP 3D printers.
Download link: https://www.up3d.com/downloads/
CreatBot 3D printers is accompanied with its own software CreatWare, which is optimised for use with Creatbot Printers.
Download link: http://www.creatbot.com/en/download.html
FlashForge 3D Printers use their own software FlashPrint, which is the reccomended slicing software for these printers.
Download link: http://www.flashforge.com/software/