3d printer apps

12 of the Best 3D Printer Apps (For All Uses!) 2021

Within every piece of hardware is the software that makes it work. Without 3D printer software to get you printing, all our 3D printers would be nothing more than weirdly shaped expensive paperweights. With 3D printer apps, this software can be easier to navigate and even more practical to use.

3D printer apps come in many forms for a lot of different uses, all of which have their own purposes, add-ons, gimmicks and focus points to make out 3D printing projects run exactly the way we want them to.

3D Printer App Multi Display Phone Desktop

Depending on your hardware and what you want to get out of your 3D printer, it can be tough to choose which 3D printer app to download onto your phone or tablet, so here we’re going to look at some of the highest rated apps for the most popular operating systems, how they work, and what their ideal use is.

What is a 3D Printing App?

A 3D printing app is a first- or third-party application that you can download onto your smartphone or tablet to design, download, modify, and monitor 3D printing projects.

Simply put, 3D printing apps are software similar to a smart TV remote which you can connect to your 3D printer to alter settings, pause and restart projects, and even monitor the 3D printer’s status mid-print.

While most 3D printing apps are designed to streamline everyday and individual 3D printer use, some are made for experts or industrial purposes to allow for more complicated or professional-quality designs and prints.

MakerBot Print Apps

  • Compatibility: iOS and Android

MakerBot is a 3D printing company that provides hardware and resources for all things 3D printing, including 3D printer apps. Their main goal with these apps is accessibility and streamlining the printing process for both newcomers and experienced designers.

MakerBot Mobile — great 3D printer app for beginners

MakerBot Mobile is a beginner-friendly 3D printing app that accommodates beginners to the world of 3D printing by including in-depth tutorials and tools for even the newest maker.

Makerbot App

MakerBot is not just for beginners, however, as it offers advanced options that allow for smaller tweaks and touches of which 3D printer users of all skill-levels can take advantage.

Thingiverse

  • Compatibility: iOS and Android

Thingiverse is the go-to site for many a 3D printer owner to share and download designs and projects for free.

With a plethora of peer-to-peer projects available for all, Thingiverse also exists as a MakerBot app to cut out the middle man compared to accessing Thingiverse on the desktop.

Thingiverse App

With the Thingiverse app, you can download STL files directly to your phone to send to your 3D printer so it can get to work! Conversely, it’s also a great 3D printer app for those who want to easily upload and share their creations with others.

The Thingiverse app also encourages peer reviews and community support surrounding the many projects on their site. Many of the creators express their desire to hear how others have used their files as well as if/how they’ve been altered for different uses or upgraded from the original design.

Morphi

  • Compatibility: iOS only

Morphi is an Apple-exclusive 3D printer app that allows users to design on the fly. It comes with pre-loaded shapes and designs that can be used right off the bat for practice or to test out a 3D printer, but its main purpose is to create new designs from scratch.

3D Printer App Morphi

Morphi is designed for designers, and has a focus on creativity. Images and shapes can be taken, rotated, altered, and added to as needed all through a touch screen interface. Once a shape has been finalized, it can de detailed to the user’s specifications.

Morphi is being constantly updated, with the developer seemingly focusing on using it as both a 3D printer app for experts, and an educational tool incorporating science, art, and math into its main structure.

3D Printer Apps for All Ages

Blokify

  • Compatibility: iOS only

Probably the most fun of all the apps on this list, Blokify takes an interesting approach to 3D modeling by adopting the runaway success of the videogame turned creativity tool – or arguably the other way around – Minecraft!

Those familiar with the likes of Minecraft or Lego will find Blokify to be a very educational and beginner-friendly 3D printing app that uses a colorful and cartoonish interface similar to a simple building-block game.

Once these designs are finished, they can be sent straight to a 3D printer to set it to work!

3D Printer App Blokify
Blokify, an app used with 3D printers.

Blokify is a 3D printer app that is definitely geared towards a younger audience, with the intent of teaching children the basics of 3D printing and 3D design software. However, adult newcomers will also find the beginner-friendly interface refreshing when they’re discovering newer technology for the first time.

Any creations made with the Blokify 3D printer app can be uploaded to an online gallery to be enjoyed, downloaded, and printed by others. Blokify also connects to apps such as Facebook and Instagram to be shared either publicly or privately.

Tinkerplay — simple 3D printer app for designing prints

  • Compatibility: iOS, Android, and Windows OS

Another 3D printer app dedicated towards younger audiences, Tinkercad’s own Tinkerplay is designed as a virtual toy builder that teaches not only about 3D printing, but also the more intricate machinations of interconnected pieces.

What sets Tinkerplay aside from other 3D printer apps is its focus on the individual make ups of multi-part models to teach the mechanics of interconnectivity and the importance of correctly measuring pieces before printing.

3D Printer Glasses Mesh

With the Tinkerplay 3D printer app, models can be put together with pre-made shapes into fully completed action figure-like models that can be sent as STL files to a 3D printer. Upon completion, whether through the pre-made models or a custom build, each part can still be selected individually to see how each piece works on its own or in relation to the others.

While somewhat more complicated than the aforementioned Blokify 3D printer app, Tinkerplay is still a 3D printer app designed for any newcomer to 3D printing, no matter how young or inexperienced. Children and adults alike will find there’s a lot to learn with Tinkerplay, whether they’re 4 or 40.

Tinkercad Tinkerplay

Simplicity is the key with Tinkerplay. According to Tinkerplay’s developer Tinkercad’s representative Sarah O’Rourke King:

‘The magic of Tinkerplay is that it is intuitive enough for a four-year-old but still inspiring and engaging for older kids and adults. We believe in the power of making Tinkercad simple.’

In addition to this, Vice President of Autodesk Samir Hanna says:

Creators, designers, and makers from ages five to 90 have blown us away with their passion for 3D modelling and 3D printing. With Tinkerplay, we’re providing another great tool designed for kids of all ages who want to play, create, and tinker.

GCodeSimulator — 3D printer app for simulating prints

  • Compatibility: Android

While many 3D printer apps focus on designs and remote-control operations, the GCodeSimulator 3D printer app adds to these by also focusing on simulation.

GCodeSimulator allows users to not only create new designs, but also simulate the 3D printing process in order to accurately display how the design will be printed and in what time. It also acts as a remote control and monitoring device, letting you see how the print is coming along in real time.

3D Printer App Example

The touch screen controls allow manipulation across all three axes (X, Y, and Z), giving users a full demonstration of what will be the final product before printing has even begun.

These features effectively make the GCodeSimulator a 3D printer app that turns any Android device into a touchscreen remote for your 3D printer, streamlining everything from design and modification, to simulation and active creation.

3D Printer Apps for PC

The word ‘apps’ often makes us think of portable devices like smartphones and tablets, but there are also 3D printer apps for desktop PCs that can perform greater and faster functions than their mobile counterparts.

Meshmixer — 3D printer app for editing and fixing STL files

  • Compatibility: Mac and Windows

Meshmixer is a highly comprehensive 3D printer app for PCs that allows not only the designing of 3D models, but also the combining of separate projects into one print using its titular mesh interface.

Meshmixer 3D App

With its 3D sculpting mechanic, Meshmixer can be used to create incredibly intricate 3D prints, with added features to aid in the printing process like smoothing, automatic bed-leveling and orientation, and surface alignment.

3D Toy Story Meshmixer

As well as smaller prints such as jewelry, toys, and figurines, Meshmixer is being used for larger projects such as factory machines, prosthetics, orthotics, and automotive repair.

Sketchup — great 3D printer app for designing models

  • Compatibility: Mac and Windows

Similar to the Thingiverse app mentioned above, Sketchup is a download for desktop PCs that acts as both a 3D printer app and an online gallery for designers to upload and share their creations with other users.

3D App Sketchup House Model

These creations are then available for download, modification, and review by other users, making it a community-based system that allows designers of all experience levels to have their designs reviewed and enjoyed by peers.

3D Printers Apps (Scanning)

While most 3D printing related apps involve designing with the touchscreens found on most smart devices, 3D scanner apps offer a different way to prepare designs and shapes to send to your 3D printer.

3D Scanner App

By using a smartphone camera to take multiple, continuous pictures of a 3D object, similar to a panorama shot, a rudimentary 3D model of the object can be captured onto a device using a 3D scanner app. This process gives the basic shape that can be send to your preferred modelling software to be modified in preparation for printing.

3D scanner apps do take time, patience, and a steady hand to really master, but they can be excellent time savers and even allow you to create 3D printed designs that would be difficult to sculpt from scratch.

Sony 3D Creator

  • Compatibility: Android only

Perhaps one of the most beginner-friendly 3D scanner apps out there, the Sony 3D Creator includes in-depth tutorials and guides for even the newest of newbies to get started scanning objects and shapes for 3D printing.

Sony Creator App

Once you’ve completed a scan, the image is converted to a wire mesh that can be altered within the app before being sent to your 3D printer. The built-in social media connectivity also means models and meshes can be uploaded to sites such as Facebook and Instagram to share with your friends and followers.

Qlone

  • Compatibility: iOS and Android

Like the Sony 3D Creator, Qlone is another 3D scanner app aimed at beginners, including in-app user guides that direct through all features from initial startup to file exportation.

Qlone sets itself aside from many free 3D printer scanner app by coming with a printable ‘mat’ that acts like a giant QR code to tell your device’s camera what to focus on. With this mat, the scanner is able to ignore anything outside of a determined space, reducing the risk of anomalies or unwanted scans of background shapes.

Qlone is also capable of scanning in 4K resolution, depending on your device, so it’s ideal for those who want to scan models for more complex and intricate 3D prints.

Canvas

  • Compatibility: iOS

Canvas is a different kind of 3D scanner app in that it’s not specifically designed for use with a 3D printer. Canvas was instead designed as a tool for interior designer professionals to scan entire rooms and houses in a short amount of time.

These 3D scans can then be saved and revisited to make alterations, run simulations, and test interior design, decoration, and refurbishment all on Canvas’ web viewer.

While Canvas may not be the kind of 3D scanner app that most 3D printer users will go for, it’s a very interesting tool to play around with if you’re interested in constructing 3D modeled spaces in a virtual environment.

Capture 3D

  • Compatibility: iOS only

While Capture 3D can be used as a 3D scanner app for individual purpose, it has a particular focus on sharing creations with co-workers and friends.

All scans taken with Capture 3D can be saved as both 2D and 3D images in OBJ and PLY formats. Via a built-in link to iMessage and Slack, these scans can be shared with colleagues or fellow enthusiasts in whichever form suits you and the desired receivers.

3D Scanner App Capture Desktop PC

While Capture 3D can be used by users of all skill and experience levels, it also contains a built-in SDK developer. This means anyone with a coding background will be able to alter and add to the app itself, making its uses and potential basically limitless depending on the user’s programming knowledge.

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