The 6 Best STL Editors for 3D Printing

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If you are a designer or an engineer, you will need a 3D printer sooner rather than later. In this case, you’ll want to start using STL files for 3D printing. But not just any software can create and edit these files: you need a program designed specifically for STL editing. We’ve compiled a list of the six best STL editors you can use in your next project.


1. Mixer

Blender is one of the best free 3D modeling apps available today. With a robust suite of user-friendly tools and a highly customizable interface, Blender allows users to easily create 3D printables. Besides being able to create models from scratch, you can use Blender to edit existing STL files. To open one, select Case > Import and choose Stl (.stl) as format.

An option to import STL files into Blender software

Navigate to where you stored the file on your computer and import it into the software. Once you have imported the STL file, you can select it and start editing. When you are done editing and want to export it, you can go to File > Export and choose your preferred file format.

Export file from Blender

To download: Blender for Windows | macOS | Linux (Free)

2.SelfCAD

SelfCAD has advanced tools and features to create, edit and repair STL files for 3D printing or other purposes. It works both online and on Windows and macOS. Freehand drawing and sketching tools are available to help you create sketches and drawings of your designs in 2D format, which you can then quickly turn into 3D models.

There are other essential features such as “Magic fix”, which you can use to repair your meshes and ensure that they are printed error free. There’s also a built-in slicer that you can use to generate the G-code files to send to your 3D printer. SelfCAD’s slicer is also compatible with most FDM 3D printers.

With this program, you can prepare simple and complex designs, and even render and prepare them for 3D printing without requiring additional software or extensions. To edit your STL files, you can first import them into the program by going to File > Import.

A demonstration of how to import a model into SelfCAD

Once you’ve imported your design, you can change the color, scale, add text, or even add a hole using the Dot & Scoop tool. When you are done editing, you can choose to trim or export it to various supported file formats as shown below. SelfCAD supports most commonly available 3D file formats.

An option to export your files from SelfCAD software

To download: SelfCAD for Windows | macOS (Free in-app purchases available)

3. 3D slash

Unlike traditional modeling software, which can be complex and intimidating for first-time users, 3D Slash is intuitive and easy to use, and it works both online and offline (you’ll need to create a free account to download it). The program allows users to drag and drop individual elements into place, giving them complete control over every aspect of their creation.

3D Slash is a great app for those looking for faster and easier to use programs. To edit your STL files in 3D Slash, go to Createthen select your model and import it into the software.

An option to import a 3D file into 3D Slash

You can then start modifying your design as needed. When you are done, click on the dots in the upper right section and you can 3D print or save your design as an STL file as shown below.

An option to export your design from 3D Slash

To download: 3D Slash for Windows | macOS | linux | Raspberry Pi (free in-app purchases available)

4. FreeCAD

FreeCAD is a free and open source design tool that can create everything from simple 3D models to complex technical designs. It provides the perfect platform for tinkering and experimenting at any skill level with intuitive controls, user-friendly interfaces, and customizable settings.

To edit your STL files in this program, go to Case > Import. Once you have imported your design, you can then start editing it.

Importing an STL file into FreeCAD

To export your file, first select it, then go to File > Export and you will be able to see a long list of different file formats to export your model to. Choose the one you want and save your file.

An option to export your model from FreeCAD

To download: FreeCAD for Windows | macOS | Linux (Free)

5. Mesh Mixer

MeshMixer is a powerful tool for creating, modifying and repairing 3D models. Its tools for adding, removing, scaling, and combining mesh elements allow users to quickly manipulate and transform even the most complex 3D meshes. And with its advanced capture features, it offers unparalleled control over the most minor details of any model.

Other essential tools like branching support structures are useful for 3D printing supports, and 3D measurements help ensure your designs have accurate measurements. The Extrusions, Plane Cuts, Mirroring and Boolean tools are also useful for quickly modifying your STL files.

To start editing your files, you can click Import when you open the software, then select your model and import it.

An option to import your designs into Meshmixer

Once you are done editing it, click the Export option on the right side of the software. You can specify your project name and choose the appropriate file format as shown below.

An option to export your designs from Meshmixer

If you want to optimize your 3D models for 3D printing or fix a broken object in your scene, MeshMixer has all the tools you need to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

To download: Meshmixer for Windows (Free)

6.MeshLab

MeshLab makes it easier for anyone to create, adjust, and manipulate complex 3D mesh files. Whether you need to refine a complex mesh or add simple details to a new object, this software has everything you need to get the job done right.

Moreover, it offers a variety of export options so that you can export your STL files in different formats. To start editing your files, import them into the software by going to File > Import mesh.

An option to import files into MeshLab

Once you’ve imported an STL file, you can start editing it. When you are done, go to Case again, and you’ll see two options for exporting your file. When you select Export Mesh, it will export your file in the default format you imported; when you select Export mesh asyou will have several options to save your designs as shown below.

An option to export your files from MeshLab

To download: MeshLab for Windows | macOS | Linux (Free)

Easily prepare your designs for 3D printing

STL files are an essential part of 3D printing, as this file format is supported by most 3D printers. However, these files can be difficult to use, especially if you are a beginner. Fortunately, the STL editors described in this article will make it easier to create and prepare your files for printing. For example, some will allow you to change the scale or orientation of your model and fix any design issues. Also, some editors come with their 3D slicers that you can use to slice your STL files and generate the G-code for the 3D printer.

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