What software do you design in?



I was just wondering what software people are using to design and model in for their prints.

I don’t really have much experience with CAD software, or any 3D modeling software for that matter, but I decided to start with Blender.

I like Blender because it is free, very robust and is platform independent. It also has a strong community behind it. It has a pretty steep leaning curve, however, and it isn’t really designed with engineering in mind… so you have to be careful when creating parts that require tight specs. You can’t just (for example) grab a .9mm hole you made in an object, and say “make it 1.1mm”. Instead, I find you have to plan in advance, and really know what you want up front, because tweaking can be a bear. There are some addons, like measureit, that help quite a bit, but it is still trial and error.

What do you use? What are the pros and cons as you see it?


Ho @moonglum

Doug the newbie here, use Fusion 360 from Autodesk. It does take a while to learn however I think it is great. I have placed a number of links to Fusion 360 training videos on our Snaplinks Wiki page.




To dip my toes into 3D modeling I started with TinkerCAD. It is made by Autodesk so there will be things that will transfer over to Fusion 360. Also, it is free and has a great tutorial to get you started with how the program works. TinkerCAD runs completely in your browser so there is no worry about having a powerful computer to run it.


@moonglum, I started out using Tinkercad.com like @Hitchhiker. However i think it is worth to learn Fusion 360, especially if you want rounded edges and more fluid lines in your design. That’s what I’m learning right now.


Anyone use FreeCAD?


I really like the parametric parameters, it makes changing design and prototyping very easy.

I also use others occasionally, such as Rhino, Sketchup, SolidWorks and Cinema4D.

You can’t just (for example) grab a .9mm hole you made in an object, and say “make it 1.1mm”

This can easily be done with Fusion360 parameters, as well as other things like tolerance etc.


Hi @peteryipdesign

I found that capturing the design history added to that pleasure.



hi all,
I have been watching this guys Fusion 360 videos and this one explains a lot of cool steps to get the hang of it:


Hi @Mr_Fen

Have you seen the Fusion 360 references on the Snaplinks page



Nice to see people responding to this thread :slight_smile:

Myself, I have settled on FreeCAD, because it is open source, and runs on all platforms. It is surprising, some of the things it can do. I don’t think the interface is as refined as Fusion360 – but that does not run on Linux, so I’m not terribly interested.

If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend it. They also have a forum, and they people there are very helpful.


I use Sketchup exclusively. Because I also do a great deal of woodworking projects, and some of these are worked on in areas remote from Internet connectivity, I use 2017 Sketchup Make as opposed to Sketchup Free which is unfortunately cloud based.

I use my Snapmaker for a lot of one-of specialty solutions and with sketchup I can often have the design and Stl in under 10 minutes. Last week e.g. I needed a custom standoff piece for a vacuum hose. I did the drawing in under 5 minutes and had the piece in hand 40 minutes later.

I gave FreeCad a try but found it far too complicated and rather infuriating. It felt to me like a patchwork software - which, to be honest it actually is as the various “workbenches” are designed by different people. It seems to be missing an overall consistency and identity.
The infuriating part was mainly because after using Sketchup I knew it could be done so much simpler.

Just to be clear, my occupation is as a CAD supervisor and I have used and evaluated various CAD systems for over 40 years professionally (AutoCad, Medusa, Medea, Engineering Base, Catia and numerous others).

BTW I also use SnapmakerJS exclusively. I guess unlike many here, Snapmaker is not a hobby for me, it’s a tool, and as such I don’t have the time to tinker about with software settings and such.


It sounds great, but unfortunately, Sketchup 2017 is not multi-platform, and therefore not an option for me. It is also not free, and it certainly isn’t open source (which I try to stick to when and where I can).


Another Fusion360 user. I use it for CNC machining (with Post Processor’s for each machine) and the STL converter is really powerful as you can dial up the triangles to make curves smoother. I’m also a solidworks/autocad user so moving over to Fusion360 for (Free Home Use) was not that bad. They just released a new interface so it’s back to finding where some items are hidden…