5 Best Free 3D Modeling Software Options

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Use these free 3D modeling software solutions to quickly turn your design ideas into realistic 3D construction models.

best free 3d modeling software options

Construction professionals are constantly coming up with new ideas for innovative designs, and it’s helpful to have software that can quickly turn these ideas into three-dimensional (3D) representations.

3D modeling software allows construction professionals to transform their designs and blueprints into lifelike models and lets artists clearly visualize the dimensions of their building designs before construction is complete.

There are several 3D modeling software tools available on the market, each with varying capabilities. And if you thought that buying one will cost you a lot of money, think again!

We’ve analyzed over 100 free design software options in Capterra directories and evaluated user reviews to identify the five best free 3D modeling software solutions (listed alphabetically). You can read our complete product selection methodology here.

5 best free 3D modeling construction software


Note: Some of these software tools are listed as computer-aided design (CAD), but we chose them because they also offer 3D modeling options for intricate and precise designs and are a good option for users who simply want to do basic 3D design without any animation or texture painting.

chart showing five best free 3d modeling construction software

1. BIMx

BIMx is a project presentation and collaboration software with integrated 2D and 3D navigation for building projects. Its cloud-integrated workflows and intuitive user interface make project management easier for architects and designers working on building information models and architectural documentation.

3D models in BIMx

3D models in BIMx (Source)

BIMx helps users design interactive 3D models of buildings. Builders, clients, and consultants can use these 3D models to give prospects virtual tours of projects before construction is completed.

We analyzed user reviews for BIMx to understand what buyers liked and areas they felt could be improved. Here’s what we found.

Pros

Cons

The software UI is intuitive. A steep learning curve to master key commands.
Virtual tours allow customers to view every dimension of a property even before construction is complete. The desktop version is less functional than the mobile version.

How much does BIMx cost?

BIMx offers a basic free version with limited features, but users can upgrade to the paid version for additional features.

2. Live Home 3D

Live Home 3D is an interior and home design software that allows users to create 3D environments that give the actual look and feel of building interiors. It’s mostly used by solo architects and small teams of startup designers working on home interiors.

3D view in Live Home 3D

3D view in Live Home 3D ( Source)

Live Home 3D automatically suggests and generates 3D views of floor plans. Users can either design their own floor plan or import an external image to extract a design and recreate it. In both cases, the software offers users the option of converting their design into a 3D plan.

We analyzed user reviews for Live Home 3D to understand what buyers liked and areas they felt could be improved. Here’s what we found.

Pros

Cons

The software’s UI is easy to use. Not many terrain options are available. Even demo projects have the same standard terrain.
Users can choose a wide range of colors and furniture for their models. The UI could be aesthetically improved, and the walkthrough mode is difficult to control.

How much does Live Home 3D cost?

Live Home 3D offers a free version with limited features, but users can upgrade to its paid version, Live Home 3D Pro, for a one-time payment of $19.99.

3. Onshape

Onshape is cloud-based 3D CAD software that offers top-down designs with multipart modeling and in-context editing. It’s useful for designers, engineers, and manufacturers who want the flexibility of working from anywhere on any device.

3D section view in Onshape

3D section view in Onshape (Source)

As a SaaS-based tool, Onshape uses online databases to store data, eliminating the need for any physical servers and other IT infrastructure costs.

We analyzed user reviews for Onshape to understand what buyers liked and areas they felt could be improved. Here’s what we found.

Pros

Cons

A fast learning curve. Anyone with basic CAD knowledge can operate the software with ease. Since Onshape is cloud-based, it lacks offline caching. Therefore, models have to be constantly reloaded during poor connectivity.
Users have access to detailed instructional videos to understand primary features. Since the software operates via browsers, designing large models can be difficult.

How much does Onshape cost?

Onshape’s free version has limited features, but users can upgrade to its paid version, which costs $125 per user per month and is billed annually ($1,500).

4. SketchUp

SketchUp is CAD software that allows users to design and edit 3D models of interiors, landscapes, and more. It assists in end-to-end designing, starting from the earliest design stage to the end of construction. It can be used by architects and interior designers for different designing steps, such as initial diagramming, design development, detailing, documentation, and requests for information (RFI).

3D construction model in SketchUp

3D construction model in SketchUp (Source)

SketchUp allows users to include lighting effects, texture paintings, and animations in their design models. It also offers a wide range of symbols and predesigned models that allow designers to achieve desired outputs.

We analyzed user reviews for SketchUp to understand what buyers liked and areas they felt could be improved. Here’s what we found.

Pros

Cons

The software modules are easy to navigate, even for beginners. SketchUp cannot be integrated with other design software.
Besides drawing and sketching options, the software also offers built-in features such as animations, lighting, and texture effects. Customer support isn’t responsive, and most queries are answered only via online message boards.

How much does SketchUpcost?

The basic version (web only) of SketchUp is free, but users can upgrade to the paid version, SketchUp Shop (web only), for $119 per user, per year or the pro version, SketchUp Pro (both desktop and web), at $299 per user, per year.

5. SkyCiv Structural 3D

SkyCiv Structural 3D is cloud-based structural analysis and design software that allows users to model, analyze, and design 3D structures. Due to its structural analysis capabilities, the software is well-suited for civil, mechanical, and structural engineers.

3D structural analysis in SkyCiv Structural 3D

3D structural analysis in SkyCiv Structural 3D (Source)

SkyCiv Structural 3D allows users to analyze structural factors, such as bending, shear, stress, and deflection. Since the software is cloud-based, it requires no installation and works completely online.

We analyzed user reviews for SkyCiv Structural 3D to understand what buyers liked and areas they felt could be improved. Here’s what we found.

Pros

Cons

A fast learning curve. Only a limited number of structural analysis methods are available.
The customer support team is quick to respond. The software’s mobile app interface for iPhones isn’t intuitive.

How much does PRODUCT cost?

SkyCiv Structural 3D offers a free version with limited features, but users can upgrade to the paid (basic) version at $69 per user, per month or the professional version at $109 per user, per month.

The final decision: Which free 3D modeling construction software to buy?

Our list of the five best free 3D modeling solutions can get you started with your software search, but the right fit depends on your design needs.

We recommend the following approach to make your ultimate decision:

  • Shortlist software based on the complexity and nature of your work. Check the number of available features in each system’s free version to see if it meets your design needs.
  • Read software reviews to understand what existing users have to say about the software’s performance in real-life projects.
  • For more options, check out our complete engineering CAD software, architecture software, and BIM software directories.

If you’ve used or are currently using free 3D modeling construction software that works well for you, tell us about it in the comments section below.


Product selection methodology

To be considered for this list, products had to offer a free, stand-alone version of the software and not a trial version wherein users have to purchase the product after the trial period.

A product was classified as 3D modeling construction software if it contained the core 3D modeling and collaboration features and at least one design feature, such as design analysis, design templates, or design export.

We analyzed nearly 150 products from our engineering CAD software, architecture software, and BIM software market categories to identify these free products. To be selected, each product had to have a minimum user rating of 4 out of 5 on Capterra as of January 6, 2020.

Note: Listed pros and cons are derived from features listed on the product website and product user reviews on Gartner Digital Markets domains (Capterra, GetApp, and Software Advice). They do not represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, Capterra or its affiliates.

Looking for Construction Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Construction Management software solutions.

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Comments

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I have and am still using NX, Solidworks and Inventor in my daily job.

For private use I’m looking for a good parametric 3D program to model, assemble and draw parts and assemblies.

Onshape is either public and limited (small assemblies that are of no use) or insanely expensive for private use.

Is there something good available for the private user like draftsight for 2D users?

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I want to design a tiny non-denominational Wedding Chapel in the Woods type construction. Plenty of floor plan software around and exterior views for houses and offices, but I can’t find any software that supports exterior church views.

Thanks.

Al

[…] Architects are expected to be creative with on-time delivery of the work. Unfortunately, some architects fail to do so. But, it’s easy to get out of this. Free 3D modeling softwares which are easy to use and quicker in time can still make you win-win. Here is the list of 3D modeling softwares to build your architectural concepts. Read More […]

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