Best Autodesk tools for students

Top 5 Autodesk Software Tools for Students 

Top Autodesk Software Tools.
There’s a lot for students to love about Autodesk’s CAD and 3D modelling software solutions, especially the fact that some are free.
But with more than 40 software tools available – many with overlapping features – picking the most suitable tools for your project can be a bit of a minefield.
The good news is that when it comes to 3D printing, five Autodesk software tools stand head and shoulders above the rest.
This article lists the top Autodesk software tools for students from a 3D printing viewpoint so you can jump straight into your projects confidently.
Let’s jump in!

Tool #1 – Fusion 360

Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is the best 3D modelling, CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB software platform for students. To produce models, you can use parametric modelling, mesh modelling, freeform modelling, direct modelling, and sketching.
When to use it?
Fusion 360 offers a comprehensive suite of modelling tools, making it the best software for 3D design. Additionally, you can edit, and repair imported scans and mesh models, such as STL and OBJ files, helping you clean up other work.
Why it’s a great tool
This tool lets you create complex 3D models in any modelling language you understand and connects to a library of 3D printers to essential parameters. Your tool paths update with every design change, and you can test different infill patterns to save materials and speed up print times.
You can also get Fusion 360 with Netfabb for a complete additive manufacturing solution.

Tool #2 – Tinkercad

Tinkercad alternatives
Tinkercad is a free, online-only CAD tool for creating basic 3D models. The modelling is based on constructive solid geometry (CSG), which allows you to create relatively complex models by combining simpler objects.
When to use it?
Tinkercad is perfect for creating simplistic shapes and geometries. It has a drag-and-drop interface with no sketching, simulation, tool path generation, or parametric design – ideal for whipping up basic models for 3D printing.
Why it’s a great tool
Tinkercad is exceptionally easy to use, and although simple, it lets you build complexity into models by adding more shapes. It is also free and available anywhere you can access the internet and a web browser.

Tool #3 – AutoCAD


AutoCAD is a step up from TinkerCAD in features and capability. In addition to preconfigured shapes, you can sketch in 2D and extrude to 3D, define model dimensions, add lofts (solids between cross-sections), and more.
When to use it?
AutoCAD is best when you need to create custom models that Tinkercad’s basic shapes can’t handle. You can start with a sketch or a shape and adjust it in all dimensions, creating complex solid and surface models.
Why it’s a great tool
AutoCAD is a 2D drafting program with 3D modelling capabilities – this makes it excellent at creating accurate representations of objects for manufacturing and engineering needs, i.e., it is excellent for prototyping in software.

Tool #4 – 3ds Max

3ds MAX

3ds Max is not an additive manufacturing tool per se but a rendering and animation software solution. It lets you create photorealistic worlds with professional modelling tools that can also produce 3D models for 3D printing.
When to use it?
3ds Max is perfect for 3D modelling and animation students, game developers, film and TV production students, and design visualisation projects. It can render models for 3D printing and lets you save files in the STL format.
Why it’s a great tool
3ds Max puts robust computer graphics programming in the palm of your hand, helping you learn and hone your animation skills. It has powerful meshing, texturing, and modelling tools, making it perfect for complex 3D models.
Why it’s a great tool

Tool #5 – Meshmixer


We end our list with a golden oldie. Meshmixer is a lightweight tool for working with triangle meshes. It lets you create, edit, repair, and manipulate STL files for 3D printing and allows the creation of tree supports in one click to speed up print times.
When to use it?
Meshmixer is now part of Fusion 360 but is also a standalone tool. You should use it as a standalone tool if you have mesh files that need refinement. If you need to edit and repair 3D meshes quickly, Meshmixer is for you.
Why it’s a great tool
Meshmixer keeps things simple, working with 3D meshes exclusively. It lets you optimise inefficient parts, create connections, enhance meshes, and add Complexes – sub-regions made from different materials.
Summing up
The best Autodesk software for students is as follows:

  • Fusion 360 – best for CAD, 3D modelling, and additive manufacturing.
  • Tinkercad – best for creating basic and simple 3D models.
  • AutoCAD – a step up from Tinkercad with sketching features.
  • 3ds Max – the best animation and graphics software with additive tools.
  • Meshmixer – a reliable tool for editing, repairing, and producing meshes.

If we had to pick one tool for students, we would pick Fusion 360 – you just can’t beat the range of tools and features it offers for 3D printing. Tinkercad is also worth keeping on your bookmark tab to create simple shapes quickly.
If you enjoyed this article, read our piece on the top free Tinkercad alternatives.
Find out more
For expert advice on Autodesk CAD software and 3D modelling, please get in touch with the team at 01765 694 007, email, or you can
book an appointment with Rachael

Top image credit: All3dp.

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