Before a 3D printer can start printing your jewelry object, it needs digital input from a computer, or a virtual 3D model. This blog post will explain which 3D modeling programs are perfect for jewelry designers who want to print their products in 3D. Once you have found a software to create your designs in 3D, we can print them in gold, silver, bronze, brass or 100+ other materials and finishes.

A 3D model holds all the information about what object the 3D printer is supposed to print. These 3D files are generated with special 3D modeling software. There are many different types of 3D modeling software, and it is difficult to pinpoint the “best” software for the job. In reality, it depends on what the designer is trying to create.

For example, if described in terms of traditional 2D printing it would be impossible to recommend the best software. Whether the user wants to print a text, draw something, or edit a photo, each software has its own strengths and weaknesses.

There is no single software that dominates the market and is the most suitable for everyone. Every designer has different needs, preferences, and objectives in mind.

When deciding what software to use, it is advisable to take the following into account:

  • Whether to use free software or spend a substantial amount of money for a high end design programs
  • Whether you prefer to create geometric items or more organic shapes
  • Whether you want to use beginner-friendly software with less functionality or a very powerful, but also very complex program

As it is difficult to recommend the “best” software, this blog post will present several programs that are popular with most of the jewelry designers at i.materialise. Their respective strengths and weakness will also be indicated. You will also see an actual 3D print that was created with each software – sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Tinkercad: This program is perfect for designers who are new to 3D modeling. The app is free and can be used directly in your internet browser when you go to Tinkercad.com. Although the program is not suitable for creating very complex designs, it is a good starting point.

tinkercad-3d-modeling-app

 

ZBrush & Sculptris: Sculptris is free, with a strong focus on 3D sculpting. It is especially suited to creating organic shapes, and users have the option of upgrading to the premium version ZBrush, which includes even more design features and is by far the most popular 3D sculpting program out there.

zbrush-3d-printing-software

 

SketchUp: This 3D modeling software is popular with scale modelers and architects due to its geometric look, but it can also be used to create edgy jewelry designs. It is free, and can be upgraded later.

sketchup-3d-printing-program

 

Blender: This software is free and quite powerful, which makes it very popular with 3D modelers. However, it comes with a very steep learning curve and is therefore less suitable for beginners.

blender-3d-modeling-software

 

Rhinoceros: A professional, all-round solution, Rhinoceros (or Rhino) is ideal for the serious designer. It is a premium software that can be expanded with several high-quality, payable plugins, making it a versatile and powerful tool. The most popular plugins for jewelry designers are Grasshopper, TSplines, and Rhinogold. For all these reasons, Rhino is the most popular choice of our jewelry designers.

3d-printing-software-rhino

 

Moment of Inspiration: MoI is a cheaper alternative to Rhino. While the style of 3D modeling (curve modeling) is very similar to Rhino, MoI comes at a much lower price. This price difference comes with less functionality and less available plugins, however.

moment-of-inspiration-3d-print

 

This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you are still in the process of looking for software, take a look at the 3D design tool section of our website to find out more about the best 3D modeling programs out there. If you already have created a 3D file, discover our 100+ available 3D printing materials and finishes and upload your design here to receive an instant price quote.

  • Minghua Kao

    By the way, I’m missing Fusion 360 in the tools you list on your website. I don’t think it’s very popular with jewelry designers but at our jewelry association it’s the program we all use. Powerfull and friendly interface. There are also specialized packages like JewelCAD, 3DDesign, Matrix and others. Also interesting is that some addons are being developed for Blender with specialised jewelry functions.

  • Birgit Laken

    I use Anarkik3d haptic design software Cloud9 for my jewellery.
    You navigate 3d with a falcon haptic device which makes it very easy to learn.
    You can use your creativity right from the beginning, through the haptics you are close to a sort of real sculpting in a very intuitive way. Fantastic for organic shapes!

  • Genna Delaney

    I used Anarkik3D haptic cloud 9 software for designing a new 3d printed collection of jewellery. I have used CAD, 3D studio max and Rhino but found them really complicated to use. When I first came across cloud 9 I was hooked. I loved the haptic aspect of the programme which allows you to feel like you’re moulding and sculpting your design, you feel a sensation in the mouse! It’s so simple to use the programme and it’s afforable for individual designers. I would definitely recommend trying out cloud 9. It’s playful and fun to use.

  • Lizzie Armour

    Really informative blog. I have used Rhino in the past and it was useful for what I needed to do within my jewellery practice, however, I really got into designing 3D models when I first began using Anarkik 3D software. I enjoy using it because it’s like modelling by hand and designing on software, which is great for a jeweller to be able to experience and utilise. Anarkik 3D is very intuitive, great fun and anyone can learn how to use it quite easily.

  • Michelle Jessiman

    I have recently just evaluated the Anarkik3d haptic design software cloud 9 for use within the jewellery department at Fife College. I felt using the falcon haptic very tactile and simple to use compared to other CAD programmes I have used.
    All of our students have a limited time to create a finish design and Anarkik3d allows you to start creating very quickly and to produce a piece through just learning the basic key tasks. Which I also feel is very inspirational to anyone whom has no previous experience in using any CAD.
    As for enabling the files to be printed in the material of your choosing the possibilities are endless.
    I think anyone whom is of a creative or design background would enjoy this programme and predict that this will be a educational design tool of the future in all design disciplines.

  • Birgit Laken

    Great to hear that I am not the only one who is enhousiastic about this programme. I think every school should go for this easy to learn and intuïtive haptic software from Anarkik3d! I just gave demonstrations at ‘Night of the Nerds’, specially organised during the Dutch technology week for schools. And I must say, it was really wonderfull to see how these children immediatly could use their creativity.

  • Alejandro Lozdziejski

    We are doing a little experiment for people to design their Jewelry without having ANY 3D modeling knowlege, you can check it out at http://www.decodedheart.com

  • Bonifacio Martinez

    Yeah… I would not think using Blender, MOI or even Sketch-up to do Jewelry. Obviously this blog does not relate actual software used in the industry. 3DESIGN (http://www.3design.com) is probably the best fit for such listing since this software runs on its own kernel and works completely independently from the quoted engine above. Seriously…? Sketch up?! Give me a break!

  • Excellent article! Thank very much. We have experienced very good results while making 3D prints made in sketchup.